First solo ride into the city

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I reached a hallmark in my motorcycle riding experience: I rode solo into Manhattan, aka “The City.”

I took the Brooklyn Bridge this time, since it’s easier to get to the west side from there than the Manhattan Bridge. I decided to take the west side streets, because I’m more familiar with them than the east side. I had to get to 37th Street for an audition. The audition was for a promotion of a game show TV network. Of course, I hope to get the job, especially because I hadn’t worked much for months and badly needed the income.

Unfortunately, I hadn’t listened to the radio before leaving to find out what traffic would be like. Also, I forgot that the route I took had no access to Hudson Street on which I planned to ride uptown and park. So, first, I had to turn around and back track in order to get to Hudson Street. Then when I finally get there, I only get to ride a few blocks, because the street was barricaded. Something was going on. Back track again, and then take Sixth Avenue instead only to find that it’s also barricaded.

Obama is in town.

At this point, traffic looks like a parking lot. Lane splitting is not legal in New York State. It should be, especially for air-cooled engines like mine. Somehow I inch my way to the front of traffic, ready to strike across Houston Street into a side road where I could park and grab a subway. But…

Georgia stalls. And she doesn’t start. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, when I left, I had to kick start the engine. That was my first kick start. The poor bike overheated in all the standing traffic. And it was 80 degrees outside. I walked the bike across the street when the light turned green. Then I pushed it to a legal parking spot. At this point, I was running late for my audition.

I didn’t bother locking my helmet to the bike. I just grabbed it and ran to the subway. I was late to the audition, and I bombed it. Nice.

When I got back to the bike, Georgia had cooled down. I had to kick start her again, but she started. I met up with Jason where he parked his bike and we rode home together. We took the Manhattan Bridge home, but while on the bridge, Georgia started losing power in fifth gear. She lurched and I downshifted to maintain speed. But I lost speed from 50 to 45 to 40. Fortunately, when we hit 40, we were on a downward hill. So, I kept the gears at 3rd gear until we got to our street.

Poor Georgia. She’s sick.

I made a pretty bad riding error today. I saw a van pulling into my lane. Instead of settling back and letting the guy take the lane, I claimed my space and sped ahead of him, seeing at the very last second that there was a red light just a few dozen feet ahead. I squeezed the brakes hard and felt the rear tire come out of line. I let go of the brakes slightly, realigned and slowed to a stop, just 3 feet from the car ahead of me. Phew! That was close.

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