Sunday Rides

 

Sunday Rides

stearman

I don’t know how it happened.............
 
The one moment the glider was straight and level and the next the stall warning buzzer was screeching a warning, the left wing dropped and the glider spun wildly out of control towards the ground. I wrestled with the controls to no avail. Nothing I did helped. The stall warning buzzed mercilessly. The ground rose up to meet me.
 
I woke up to darkness. The buzzing was still in my ears. I slowly realized the buzzing wasn’t a stall warning but my cell phone alarm. I reached over and pressed cancel, swung my legs out of bed and headed off to make coffee, careful not to wake the rest of the household.
 
Sunday rides are different, no preplanned routes, no packing of bags. I dressed in between making coffee and unlocked the garage. Switching on the light I was faced with a choice. Still debating where to ride to I now had to decide what to ride on. The bikes are hidden by covers. Their shapes betray their identities. I take a sip of coffee.
 
Living in Cape Town, you are spoiled for choice when motorcycling. I could ride to Franschoek through the magnificent winelands. I could head up the barren West Coast to Langebaan and return via the picturesque Darling. Ceres via Bainskloof Pass is another option. I could cross the du Toits Kloof Pass and ride to Worcester via Rawsonville. Fact is I could traverse a dozen mountain passes in the course of an easy days riding.

Mmmmm I wondered undecided. Glancing around the silver shapes in the garage, I spotted a reverse Comstar rim poking out from under a cover. My mind was suddenly made up.

 stearman                  

The Honda CBX is to motorcycling what the Boeing Stearman is to aviation, a celebration of the internal combustion engine. Every other component is of secondary importance. The wheels, wings, handlebars and propeller all come a poor second. The CBX has six cylinders, six exhausts, six carburetors and 24 valves. I whipped the cover off. I needed to see if she would start. It had been awhile.

 cbx

Old motorbikes all have a starting ritual. When new you simply turn on the ignition, hit the starter button and they fire up. As they get older, motorbikes develop a personality. Part of this character is the starting sequence. Get it wrong and you are going nowhere as you slowly exhaust the battery. I have yet to come across a CBX that isn’t extremely cold blooded. I mentally ran through the checklist. First, unplug the battery tender. Turn on the fuel tap and wait until it stops running through the fuel filter. Select full choke. Switch the kill button on, lights off. Pump the throttle at least 20 times to prime the cylinders. Ignition on and hit the starter. Three cylinders catch immediately and are joined reluctantly by the other three, one at a time. Ease the choke closed as the revs build up or the neighbours will be on the phone. Finally, she will idle without choke while I pull my helmet and gloves on and hit the remote to open the garage door. The cold morning air is refreshing with a hint of the sea. It’s still dark and I switch on the lights and scan the instruments. Everything is in the green and I have enough fuel for 300 kilometers.
 
As I tap the CBX into first gear and close the garage door behind me I
know exactly where I am going to ride to........I am going to ride….East.
 

cbx2



Gavin Liggett
Cape Town, South Africa
April, 2008