.....So after a quick hand-tighten of the mirror nut and a swig of juice we got back on the road.
But if you're gonna have an adventure, you're gonna need a hero (Pt2)
By JuniperSachs, Aug 8, 2016 | 5 Comments | 215 Views | Daydreams and learning curves. Literally, learning curves....
I was honestly only following vague memories of when I lived down there. See, I’d always been navigator in the car with the husband, mainly because I was bloody good at it and he had trouble recognising a road we’d been down yesterday. But I knew that there was always a wrong turn I took coming back the other way on these roads, which led me to where I was now. Which meant that I knew which road I was on – the wrong one – a that somewhere ahead I’d hit a good bit of tarmac and a left turn. I just wasn’t sure which bend it was around.
Well, turned out to be a good few. And it was beyond some pretty loose surfaces, funky potholes and dodgy cambers too. And I chattered away to myself, half giggling, the whole time. “Well, here’re some of those changing road surfaces I’ve been warned about. Its ok, I don’t suppose the warnings are for people doing 45kph” “Is it nearly roo-o’clock yet?” “Jeez, slow down w*nker, just coz you’ve got 4 tyres” (Admittedly this wasn’t to myself but to the bass-driven Holden that flew past the other way) “Hooray, here’s a bit of decent surface….annnnd theeere it goes” – well, you all know the private in-lid conversations. But after a reasonably entertaining while, experimenting with gravel and shadow-dappling, we came up on the T junction. And again, decision.
I came to a stop pointing generally left, because I knew it led down back to the burbs, and North. But as I looked right I wavered. Shit that road looked nice. Not a car in sight, and I reckoned it probably only went to that road down that comes out in… No. No, the sun’s already at eye level, and you aren’t sure how far out of your way you’ll end up if you go right. Save it.
So left. And down. And here I learned another new thing: How difficult it is to judge a bend when the sun/tree combination is making your vision basically nothing but redflash greenflash redflash greenflash redflash… But I just kept it at a pace I trusted, let the milliseconds of grey vision lead me, and down we went. Through the roof level of houses, and dropping back onto the plain. And it was -forgive me - plain sailing from there. Yes this road is WAY longer than I expected it to be but here’s South at last. And hoorah, a right turn arrow that knows I’m here! And… you know, I can’t remember thinking much from there. Because I don’t need to now. I’m starting to not have to actively think about what I’m doing on urban roads. I’m alert, I’m ahead of myself, but not running a commentary. And that’s great. Oh, except that when the 80kph uphill stretch began I moved over a lane to let a bus out, and then pulled back in thinking “When you’ve got no poke, keep a bus behind you” and then laughed near the top of the hill when I found it alongside me. What is this? A race uphill with a bus and I’m losing? Haha.
And then it happened. Topping the final hill and heading down the S bends back into town, I went to change back up after slowing down for the lights and felt an unnatural click under my left hand, followed by a slackness that I knew could really only mean one thing. And for some bizarre reason, heading downhill at 80, I chuckled. “Ha! I think my clutch just went! Um, that’s gonna be a problem” – but it wasn’t a problem yet. And wouldn’t be til I needed to stop. So I had a couple of minutes to work out what to do. A quick in-flight experiment told me that I could still change up and down (ooh, yep, that’s third, oops) and as long as I was taking the right line and my brakes were working I was ok til the bottom. And that at the bottom I really ought to swing left and get off Main South without going through the five huge four-lane junctions, umpteen sets of lights and major roadworks still between us and home. Somehow I sort of knew that only by not stopping were we going to be able to wing it back.
Well, my luck ran out at the lights. They went red. I had to stop. And I sat there working lever and foot, watching my gears change ok, but every time I eased out the brake in first she tried to buck like a mule. It was over. I couldn’t take off again. Luckily the traffic was light, the few cars behind me passed without honking and swearing, and I put her in neutral and wheeled us up onto the pavement.
Where I finally conceded a “F*ck it!” (I may have stamped, just slightly, too)
Well, those who were online at the time know the rest of the story. With a phone battery on warning levels I called the only four people who I felt had a friendship obligation to come help. 1: Too many beers under the belt to drive (note to self: don’t break down late on a Sunday afternoon) 2,3,4: All in Port Adelaide at a gig. And I do recall thinking, as I quickly hung up to save power “Um, Port Adelaide is really only half an hour from here, you gits.” To his credit ex-husband did try and persuade the RAA to come get me on him, but they wouldn’t have a bar of it. Of course they wouldn’t.
So what else was there to do? Well for starters, wheel her up that cycle path and off the pavement to a car park where at least she might be safe overnight if need be (please no). Next, put SOS on Netrider. And if that didn’t work? Erm… go into the pizza place and use their phone to call a cab, get home, call a tow truck to go pick her up? Shit, how much does a tow truck even cost? I even considered – very briefly – the fact that I had found one last note of Scumbucket’s number in my phone earlier. But that’s not a reunion anyone wants to see.
And then the magic of Netrider kicked in. Adelaide is a small town, with less than its share of NRs, but ST59, who I have embarrassed enough already (but one more time won’t hurt before I downgrade to silently eternally grateful) had somehow had been prodded by the Gods to get online just at the right time to read a cry for help from a stupidly helpless local, and did more than I ever expected anyone to do for me in a pickle. After only an hour in a car park (staring at some weird birds, who doubtless thought they were doing the same) and only just after sunset a most valiant man with a trailer rolled in and saved the day. I am indescribably grateful when I think about it (and a little speechless at the time) because honestly, my mates were useless. And they usually are. I’m capable because I’ve always had to be capable; I know stuff because I’ve had to learn stuff. I don’t mind, but it does mean my assumption levels when help is needed don’t rise very high. To have a total stranger go so far out of his way to help me was pretty magical and meant that when I lay down to go to sleep that last thought in my head was “What an awesome day. Thanks, Universe.”
Gods, can you imagine if I’d taken that right turn in the hills?
Anyway, yesterday taught me so many small exciting things, at least one big thing, and made me absolutely certain that I want a bigger bike as soon as I can get my grubby mitts on one. One with a rear brake pedal that isn’t higher than my footpeg (I mean, that’s not right, right?) and who doesn’t shake herself apart at highway speeds. One that can and will come with me wherever I want to go.
Today, having woken to find another kind offer of help in my inbox, I will learn a thing or two about clutch levers. Right now, at 11 am I know nothing, except that they aren’t supposed to flap like that. By 6pm I will know many things. (Not least whether I have any competence) But I have twice thought, in the last 12 hours, “Oh tomorrow I’ll pop down to..” and then realised no, I won’t, because I’m a pedestrian again until I fix her. And we can’t be having that.
Final notes. Never leave the house without:
A screwdriver and a wrench
A fully charged phone
A working knowledge of basic bike repair
(not the sunset I'd imagined seeing)
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