Shovel Trouble

Shit happens. But, when there's someone to ride through some of the shit with you, it's not so bad.

A few weeks ago, my Uncle was in town from London. That Saturday he came over with my little brothers and my Mom to play Monopoly and have family dinner. Naturally, he wanted to see our garage. Being a former track guy, primarily concerned with performance oriented bikes, he was curious as to why DCar chooses to ride the type of bikes that he does. DCar just looked at his Shovelhead and talked about how he liked putting it together and learning how to take it apart. It's simple, in a way. His recent triumph? Getting the timing just right. But as always, there's always something else to change, fix or maintain. My Uncle doesn't ride anymore, but it was nice to see two people who ride for completely different reasons talk about why they love doing it.

That Sunday I headed to my Mom's for one last dinner with my Uncle and DCar rode over to his parents to see his Grandpa Bill. On the way home from his parents, his oil filter came off. I ran home, took off my heels, threw on some vans and hopped in the truck to bring him some oil.

Filling it up with more oil didn't do the trick because the oil filter wouldn't stay on. So, we decided to tow the old girl home. I won't lie, being as tiny as I am I got pretty nervous pulling the ramp out of the truck to help him load the bike in. But, I could tell he was more nervous than I was. So, I just grabbed the rear and told him I had it. Somehow, we got it in there! And then, like two degenerates covered in oil, we got Chipotle.

Back Into The Swing Of Things

Justin kickstarting his '62 Harley Davidson Pan-Shovel

My boyfriend Dan and his long-time friend, Justin, have been riding with me since I bought my first motorcycle. In fact Justin test-rode my first bike, a '74 Honda CB200, and Dan rode it home the day I picked it up which was a little over three years ago. So, it's only natural that these are the first two I want to go on a long ride with after a long winter.

When you know people well, and you know how they ride, riding with them becomes different than riding with anyone else. It may sound weird, but it's almost like riding alone.

I'm definitely a nerd among the cool kids, but that's okay. I love riding with people who love their bikes and love what they do. Even if what they do is kick back and break down.

On the way home from Valley Forge, Justin's bike broke down. And by broke down, I mean the oil line on his bike started melting and smoking against his exhaust while he was riding. He managed to cut and reroute the oil line once we got to Manayunk, much to the dismay of the families walking around on Easter Sunday.

Justin's bike conundrums and macgyvering ways have never really surprised me. That is, until we were almost home. If you're not familiar with Kelly Drive, it's a windy but flat road that runs along the Schuylkill River. There's no shoulder or sidewalk, just grass that's lined with trees next to a bicycle path that's usually full of runners and cyclists, small children and tourists. The roads themselves are usually crowded with cars that can't stay in their lanes at speeds that they shouldn't be going.

As we're riding I notice Justin slow down in front of me. Again, there's no shoulder. He slows down some more until he's right next to me. My first thought is not that he's out of gas, it's that there is nowhere to pull over and that there are a ton of cars behind us. As I begin to pass him, slightly panicking, he motions to keep going so I do. I watch though as he steadily moves to the right, rides up over the small patch of grass, through two trees and onto the bike path. I look forward at Dan who is looking back at me and I motion for him to keep going. I look back again and it's as if Justin has disappeared.

We ride the few blocks home to get Dan's truck and a gas can, all the while smiling and giggling about Justin, his bike and all the people on the bicycle path that day. It was a good day.

Follow the boys on Instagram: @justinxjames @graveyardbars

Dia de los Muertos

In the spirit of Halloween and Dia de los Muertos, we took a ride to the cemetery this past November. If you aren't familiar with Dia de los Muertos, it's a Mexican Holiday that honors the adults in your life that have passed. In Mexico, their graves are cleaned and decorated with bright orange marigolds. Unfortunately, my father passed away on a farm in Mexico when I was three and I grew up in the States. Still, I thought of him while we rode through Laurel Hill that day.

It was a cold, beautiful day.

The etchings above were done by Mexican printmaker and draughtsman, Jose Guadalupe Posada.