My first trip to work with my shiny new engine! ("New" being relative, when comparing things from 1989 to things from 1999 which was still 16 years ago omg.) The day cooperated by blessing my ride with a warm, sunshine-glittery morning. I try to commute on the bike as much as possible, in part because I still get the jitters before every time I ride.
Am I nervous? Am I excited? Am I going to nearly be hit by a train? (That happened once! Look away, mother!) Should I hit the bathroom before I leave? I should hit the bathroom before I leave. All valid ruminations on why I have the jits! Regardless, my strategy for conquering my nervous condition has been forced immersion, via as many miles as I can manage — it's mostly working.
I chew gum. It actually helps; I don't know why. However I only have tangerine sherbert flavored gum and it's absolutely terrible and it feels like someone has emptied a garbage can into my face. I chew it anyway. No, I have not bought a different flavor of gum. 1) I have more of this left. Look at it, it's right there crumpled up in the bottom of my bag already! and 2) I'm sort of forgetful. Stop interrupting.
My bike is, like everyone else in our house, grouchy about waking up first thing in the morning. Though the new engine corrected many other strange things about my machine (the alarming clacking sound, to name one), it has retained its unconquerably awkward t-dubbiness. Cold-blooded starts are one of many quirks common of an already quirky species. It's not particularly annoying as long as you know that it likes to be babied a bit while things are still dewy.
Waking her up is a process. First, you gently pull out the choke and start her up. Then you wait as it guzzles down fuel like a man stranded in the desert dying of thirst, crying his own invisible tears and drinking his own pee. And you wait. And wait. Also, wait. And when the rate of idle finally starts shaking you at such an alarming velocity that you think you'll tip over and careen wildly into the nearby garbage cans, then you can try to push the choke in and ride away.
...Or it will stall and you'll have to warm it up wait some more.
The post-major-repairs inaugural ride to work finally well underway, nothing has happened of consequence other than a million old people being directly between me and everywhere I want to go. I reach deeply into my zen place. "It's cool man, this is the perfect time to practice your clutch control," I coach myself. "Highway to the friction zone!
(I don't think I actually thought that last part in my head, but I should have. I just I thought of it now and it's super.)
Much to my irritation, the plague of creeping near-death drivers is a theme that will continue throughout the rides of the week. I am now quite skilled at doing the hipster weave at an aggressively moderate rate of speed.
When I finally spot an opportunity to slip past the slowest toyota sedan in the world (congratulations on your winning achievement!), I book it up through the gears until the cool morning air is beating against my cheeks and I can finally breathe in the open space. I particularly enjoy going from second to third on the new engine, and the bike pulls forward with a satisfyingly dramatic lunge. It almost makes me feel a little bit cool. Yeah man, alllllright.
I look over. I make eye contact with that police officer I just now noticed staring at me. He nods.