Friday, October 1, 2021

Riding a Royal Enfield to get to that old time religion

Motorcycle in parking lot as sun comes up.
My Royal Enfield Bullet greets the dawn in parking lot at church.

Looks as though my Royal Enfield will become the motorcycle the little old man only rode to church on Sundays.

It had been a year since I physically attended church. I'd been watching the services on YouTube. But it now seemed safe to go in person.

Going to the early Sunday service makes a fine little motorcycle ride. But you like to be on time.

 For the pilot of an old Royal Enfield Bullet, that means draining the sump overnight so there will be no clouds of smoke out the exhaust in the morning.

I also set out my boots, jacket, pants, shirt, helmet and gloves. I put a belt on the pants and put my Leatherman multi-tool on the belt. I put earplugs in the shirt pocket. I put my wallet in the pants pocket. Getting dressed in the morning was going to be a breeze.

Now, how to get me out of bed on time? I can't see the bedroom clock radio from my side of the bed. I remembered now how this was always a problem Sunday mornings, before I got the YouTube religion.

I haven't worn a wristwatch for more than a decade, but it seemed like it would be a good idea. I dug an old wristwatch out of my sock drawer and put in a new battery. After probably at least 20 years in the drawer, the watch started right up.

And so to bed.

As morning approached I checked my wrist, only to see that the clock's luminescent markings had worn off by this hour. I would have to set my "internal" clock for 6 a.m. instead. This resulted in a fitful rest but, yes, I did awake only five minutes past my goal.

As I sat up, I realized I had forgotten to set out socks. I grabbed a pair by feel in the dark.

Then I realized I had forgotten to set out an undershirt. More groping in the dark.

Once dressed outside the bedroom it was time to head for the garage, screw the plug into the Bullet's sump drain and pour the collected oil back into the oil tank.

I grabbed a towel to wipe the oil off my hands and found myself holding a towel that was heavier than it should be, and wriggling.

I live in Florida. A fairly large lizard, accidentally trapped in the garage, had bedded down in my shop towel and was now an unwilling captive in it. I was the unwilling captor.

I released the lizard no worse for wear and finished wiping my hands.

Now it was time to sneak back into the house to get my iPhone, which I had forgotten.

Finally fully equipped, I rolled the motorcycle out of the garage. I hit the switch that closes the garage door, and quickly stepped outside, taking one giant step so as not to trip the sensors aimed to prevent this.

As the garage door clattered closed I remembered I had left my house keys inside. I was now locked out of the house. Oh well, my wife would be up by the time I returned, and could let me in.

The first turn out of my driveway would be a pleasant curve, except that the apex is always dusted with sand tossed up by cars that cut the corner. I carefully avoided that mess and then swung through the neighborhood streets on a path meant to avoid most stop signs.

The speed limit is 35 mph on the first road of any size but the few cars out this morning were already doing 50. This wasn't going to be so leisurely after all.

I've written about my unsuccessful attempt to mount a clock on my motorcycle. I had planned to stay on schedule to get to church by checking the watch now on my wrist. But I found that the slipstream that pushed my jacket sleeve off my right wrist did not affect my left wrist, where the jacket kept the wrist watch firmly out of sight.

Luckily, I remembered, there is that one last place of business on my route that still has an old fashioned clock out front, on its sign. I used to check it every Sunday morning when I was going to church.

Nope. That clock is gone. The building is gone! That's the pace of growth in Fort Lauderdale. A new, bigger building is already in its place.

At the first left turn there was plenty of time to pull up my sleeve and check the time on the wrist watch. I was waiting for the left-turn arrow but it gradually became evident that the motorcycle was not big enough to trip the magnetic sensors in the road that would trigger the left-turn signal.

I looked both ways and ran the light. Which brought me to the next left turn, where the same thing happened. Which brought me to the next left turn where by now there was enough traffic that a car did pull up behind me. I edged forward into the crosswalk to allow him to pull all the way up over the sensors.

And so on to church. Except for the ding-ding-ding of the railroad crossing that announced that there would be a slight interruption by a seemingly miles-long slow freight train.

I turned off the motor and sat waiting for the train to pass. And sat. And sat.

I was late for church.

It rained while I was inside church and I emerged to find the Bullet, including the saddle, quite wet. It started right up though, despite the dousing, so I felt blessed, and headed for home.

Where my wife was still not up.


  1. Wet sumping has never been a problem for me. After the engine stops I simply kick it past TDC and the flicker of the amp needle.


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