Sunday, August 31, 2014


On every bike there's a toolkit hidden somewhere inside.  Usually under the seat, but I guess some manufacturer found the way to put it in the wheel or in front of the steering column.  That toolkit is what you need to do pretty much any emergency surgery your mechanical friend might need to keep beating and breathing forward.

Not only is the intention pure, to get you though whatever life might throw your way, and it may very well have saved your ass more than once.  I remember what might be the stupidest malfunction possible.  I was riding and my bike would shut down.  And wake up again and continue it's merry way like nothing happened.  No time to psychanalyse, the cars behind might not want to be invited to the discussion.

So after a few hiccups and rider puzzlement, the disease start taking over and my friend and I end up so very close to the exact center of nowhere.   Pretty close to my parent's house, but not walking distance.  So I put my mechanical surgeon hat, get that toolkit out, and start assessing the damage.

The patient was a 1994 Magna.  Red.  My dream machine, made by Honda to last a few lifetimes and then some.  For a brief introduction, that machine was part of a generation to try to cross the gap between east and west.  Rising sun people wanting machines to turn every last drop of energy from the gas tank into sensations and efficiency.  Setting sun people wanting chromed-up machines to show, across time and space,  that they can create their own damn machine, bigger, louder, reflecting more light for every possible part of the chromed machine than an ordinary non-american thing can.

So in effort to cross the gap, Japanese artists decided to put their best power plants into machines that would be homages to their American counterparts.  For Honda, the company that imposed itself on me, that gave birth to the Magna.  Using the then race-winner VFR (that stands for V-Four Racer for the non-initiated into the mysteries of that manufacturer's linguistic refinement and elegance) and putting it into their best possible clone of their across the ocean competitors, the Shadow.

Don't ask what cast that shadow, the bike looks Harley Davidson-ish, the closer it can possibly be without having to explain the subtle differences in court.  Or after explaining them.

Oh, do you know that the Harley sound that gives those bikes their soul come from economic pressure to shortcut the engineering process and get the thing to production without being downsized?  The single crankshaft pin that help produces the sweet music that get so many people to plaster themselves and everything they touch with commercial logos allows for a much simpler engine, and quite a bit cheaper to make.  But like everything else in life, engineering has it's compromises too.  That single pin crankshaft doesn't do the rest of the engine justice, abusing the result of it's labor and converting it into sound instead of torque and acceleration and pleasure.  That's roughly 10-15% of the machine's labor that's converted into audio candy.  The kind that, when paired with the customary illegal straight pipes offered by he dealer himself, will produce that sweet sound that all your neighbors will thank you for.  And everybody in tunnels and underpass shall you decide to pay homage to that timeless scientific marvel of a machine.

To complete the introduction, the Magna's a fun bike.  A very fun one, that revs high and push asphalt back with a pretty decent hand when allowed the RPM to do so.  The machine's an overall average, OK machine with a very lovely center.

2. Get rid of the unnecessary crap and go light

So, back to the program; I have to stop slam dunk nowhere for a quick and dirty surgery.  Seat removed (that's pretty much the only thing you can undress from that kind of bike) and eyes all in, turns out one of the battery terminal is loose and sometimes loosing contact.  Easier to fix than screwing in a terminal.  Or just as easy, since that's the actual process to heal the patient.

Toolkit out, surgery done, toolkit back in, and off we go.  A bit deeper into beautiful nowhere before heading back towards civilization.  So I thank that toolkit for saving the day.

But not only is that deep down in the beast's stomach, but many people feel like getting ready for more of life's unsuspected surprises.  Rain gear? check.  WD-40 and shop towels? check.  Never know when that can be useful, or even necessary.  Maps too, maybe.  Spare clothes or the dry kind?  OK.  Stuff for surprise picnic and stuff in case you meet someone important and stuff in case of a zombie apocalypse.  Never too prepared right?  There's a good logic going for it.  But the other side of the coin, the maybe less observed one, is that all that stuff not only takes space, but more importantly adds weight to the equation.  The purest form being rider + bike = bliss.
The less pure form being rider + stuff in case + bike + tools and shit.  And maybe sometimes a bit more shit that's been useful that day when I was a kid.  And that other thing that will come in handy if I meet that 2nd grade teacher that shamed me to hell and back.  Or whatever I picked up along the way that could come in handy someday.

Now back to racing.  To go for that complete synergy of rider and ridden, or man and machine and pavement and curves and straights and adrenaline and guts and feelings.  That toolkit is heavy.  Not as in break your back lifting it heavy, as in not really noticeable but that 0.1 second might have been saved heavy.

And bikes were honed to street use.  They have some baggage that doesn't need to be kept.  Lights? we don't race at night, drop.  Horn?  WTF, just drop.  Handlebar gizmos for flasher and shit?  Drop.  License plate that allowed you to cross the streets but that isn't required anymore? Drop.  Drop drop drop.  Drop all that shit.  And then some.  Keep the aerodynamic stuff around the machine and drop everything else.  That's pretty much a requirement to win.  Not to race, I'm sure you can get on track with your horn and toolkit and nobody will bother you about it.  But maybe you could get out of that turn just a little bit faster, have just a bit more speed in the straight, get that little missing drop to pass that guy in front.  Or to avoid being passed and left behind.  Or to just squeeze one more drop of enjoyment from the whole thing.

Beside the racetrack, there's usually mechanics for hire.  And nurses for free.  And trailers filled with tools and parts and happy people who'll help you out of pretty much anything with a smile if they can be of assistance.  While exchanging tips or sharing experiences.

So all that baggage isn't any use anymore.  We sometimes overlook that fact and go on with extra weight all over.  And find the steering harder than we'd like, and braking more hairy that it has to be.

The solution's obvious here.  Drop everything.  All of that crap, every single bit of whatever you don't need.  You'll have to think about it, and look at the bike carefully from every possible angle.  And then you find crap and remove it.  And get that lighter, more responsive, more efficient and, more importantly, more fun bike.  That communicate it's relation to the ground in a clearer way.  That offers less resistance to changing direction, less inertial sluggishness to accelerating and braking.  A lean mean machine! Yay

Ok, time for the parallel.  As a kid I learned a bunch of stuff.  Many many rules.  More than that actually, a double-plus-big amount of then maybe useful crap.  But as grownups, all that stuff lost most of it's use, and we have other ways to deal with obstacles.  Other people to help us, when we reach out.  And new, yet unknown ways to pass obstacles.  But all the heavy burden doesn't just drop off when unneeded, saying "Let's part ways, that was fun, loved being with you, we had good and bad times, highs and lows, often relied on one another, and an overall synergistic relationship, but it's time to let go".  No, the stuff is there, period.  Usually forgotten, sometimes adding some friction to otherwise smooth situations, sometimes completely blowing in our face in an ununderstandable mess.  That's not a typo, it's a voluntary double negation new word.  Nicer than just derstandable, no?

So the best way to go is to take a minute to assess the situation.  To consider the usefulness of that baggage.  Let's face it, however loaded of emotional content it is, the vast majority of it isn't needed and will never be.  And is often more of less in the way.  To accelerate full speed ahead.  To smoothly take that curve.  How many time did you struggle with one of life's little situation because you had that reaction ready to fight it off?  Instead of just passing it and going on?

There's a guy on youtube I like listening to, who often says something along the lines of "At the end of the day, it's HE WHO HAD THE MOST FUN".  Damn right.  It's not he who resisted the most things, or he who accumulated the most stuff or got the most scars.  Trophies are nice, they very well may be worth going for, but only as long as it's fun.

When I was a kid I played chess.  I was good enough to win championships.  I thought a lot, and brain was tuned to the game all right.  Many things became second nature, playing  many moves without having to expend mental energy because I just knew.  Then I went to a chess club, and met serious players.  And I stopped playing right there.  I'd play for fun, not for wins and ratings and other people.   At least I've had some fun games since then, with not the intention of winning and proving my might, but for discussing strategies and pushing each other and sharing quality time.

So I think that the way to have the most fun is to drop that shit.  All of it.  It's never far anyway right?  The trailer's in the paddocks.   The neighbor have more tools than I can wish for.  The friends overflow with the resources I might need.  And when they need mine I'll gladly lend a hand and have fun in the process.

There may be a bunch of ways to go about that cleanup, that spring cleaning that brings life back inside by giving it space and grace.  There's friends and professional hired help that are pretty good at helping sort the obstacles out and empty the place of old junk.

I try my best to notice any automatic reaction.  It may have been the right one some time ago, but it can't possibly the very best reaction to that new situation.  Like figuring out what to say to someone beforehand.  How can that ever fit into a conversation without breaking it and discarding it's present-moment shine?  And if you could think of that clever punchline out of context beforehand, trust yourself that you'll come with good, more appropriate ones when the time comes.  And isn't it insanely sad to carefully plan future moments so we don't have to really live them when they come, just regurgitating that previously thought-out stuff impersonally instead?

Now let's reach a conclusion.  While we grow up accumulating all kind of super useful stuff, and learning reactions to some situations, that stuff and those reactions aren't appropriate now.  We can just be now and it'll be all right and much more fun.  And there's books and professionals that can help spot dead weight and help disarm those triggers and respectfully remove no longer necessary and disserving stuff.  And I think it's worth it and bring more pleasure to life than any vacation or jewelry or mansion or lifestyle can.  All of those things will be more fun after.  Much much more fun.

Thanks for reading.  I dare you to find something that gives you bad vibes and to get rid of it.  And to notice one of your automatic reaction that doesn't bring pleasure and to defuse it and acknowledge it's past service as you retire it.  And to leave the freed space open for more consciousness and joy.  Because I bet you that every single bit of baggage you'll drop will make you happier and will make your life simpler and more ecstatic.

Do it.  Or if you're reading because you're also growing and looking for the ray of light I'm trying to let shine through my mechanical and hooligan stories, keep the fun images in mind and use them to trigger spring cleaning consciousness whenever you can.

That was fun to write :)

Leave a comment now or come back if some idea resurfaced and helped you.  I'll appreciate reading you.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Mechanical Orgasm

My first time was on the Mecaglisse track. There's sort of a little back stretch where the race line hits a bunch of tree that decided to grow over the track. Since nobody seem to contradict them, they take their place. After that little curvy stretch with vegetation reaching out on the right is a smooth left curve leading to the back stretch. The only stretch, if we can call it that, on the little school track.

So after saying hello to the trees, we smoothly go left to that little candy stretch. One fun thing about that left turn is the vibrators at the apex. Ok, they're not called that, but I only have the french word "vibreurs" in mind and can't think of the English name.  But that image isn't very far.  They physically remind you that you've taken enough track, so you're doing it right, but you shouldn't go any further.  Enjoy it right there.  Or else things will get less pleasurable.

If we come in fast enough, and take that left hard enough, it's possible to get our knee seriously contradicted on it's way down. Expecting smooth asphalt and being greeted with that harsh on and off surface can be a strong surprise.  I stopped taking my left knee out on the turn and eventually started just clinging to the bike like a tree I don't want to fall down of because of the protection it offers from the harsh environment.  A tree with great tires and suspension to interface the world below and keep me safe and comfortable.

So anyway, going from little stretch to little stretch is the time to pin the throttle down. That lets the beast breath fully. I won't go into details now, but the throttle's only function is to choke the engine and starve it of it's life oxygen while the rider feels it shouldn't breath too freely. For many people, bike riders and car drivers alike, that's 100% of always since they don't want to know what their engine does when it's free of tight breathing restriction.  And that's a shame that will require another post to discuss.

My first time was going into that 2nd little stretch with the throttle pinned open. On my baby, a CBR1000rr I never baptized that still wore it's red street fairings like a fashion statement, the intake is right under the gas tank.  The tank kinda expand down both sides, getting that liquid energy as low as possible down the sides of the bike.  That's fine Japanese engineering for a low center of gravity and a better handling bike.  But the top center is where the engine takes it's air. And that's where the machine yells when having an orgasm. That sound is worth gold.  That inspiration, tinted with the smooth frequency of the engine's intake valves opening and closing at high RPM, is an expression of pure pleasure.  I can almost reproduce it by yelling on an in breath instead of and out breath.  But not quite, and not with that true orgasmic intensity.  That sound is what you make when you're free and express yourself without any restriction. A machine doing what's she's meant to do, what she was built to do, fulfilling her destiny, truly being.  Being the instrument to it's loudly expressed pleasure sent shivers through my whole body and gave me the smile of a lifetime.

That was my 1sttime, and the most intense one. Some say we always remember our first time... that sure is true of my first mechanical orgasm. I will forever cherish that sound of fulfillment, of expressing yourself by doing what you were meant to do, of living live unencumbered of all those rules and situations and thoughts that drag you down like a closed throttle. Like all those obstacles that get you to close down because you don't trust that you can get through at full speed. Those obstacles that get me to climb in my head and start looping thoughts instead of breathing full speed ahead.  Those obstacles are part of life, of course, but they're meant to get us to maneuver through, teaching us something.  How to handle that turn, that pothole, or that damn car with red and blue lights flashing all over that just doesn't want to leave me alone.  Or that back pain, or that insulin needle.  And it's OK.  Remember though, that's it's a learning experience.  And that we're meant to open up the throttle right after.  And go on, living orgasmically full speed ahead, not devoting our energy looking out for that next obstacle coming our way or looking back at those things we just passed.  Looking forward, clear minded, and heading there full throttle.

How fast can we assimilate those situations, if we can at all?  Can we just register them and go on or do we have to slow down to chew? Either way's fine, of course.  As long as we remember that we're not ruminants, that we're meant to digest and get back to on full throttle, not to store those experiences for coming back to avoiding them all the time.  We can sometimes feel that they shouldn't be lived.  That we should just push them back, deeper, and forget about them.  But like undigested meat, repressed baggage just doesn't get nicer or more digestible, it just takes space and, with time, clogs the exhaust and fogs the visor, poisoning the whole machine.  Slowing us down, and by ridding us of the clear sight of what's ahead, keeping us in fear of the future.  I'm guilty, of course, or I wouldn't know...

Living is great, sharing life is extraordinary, and being there when someone breaks through the million obstacles and opens up to life is the most rewarding thing I ever lived. Someone once called me to share that experience; I will cherish that memory forever.  We can't really help or heal someone, but being there when they do, and maybe feeling that you took their hand when they reached out and gave them the support they needed to go on, is like witnessing an amazing sunrise and knowing that everything can be all right.  That it's all worth it, no matter the cost.  I will cherish that memory forever and die happier for it.

I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it


Sunday, August 17, 2014



My name's Billy.  I am an aspiring yogi, and an expiring motorcycle racer.  And I recently had this insight, how riding my bike and living my life were analogous to one another.  I thought of all the advices, tricks and ways to ride better, faster, safer and more enjoyably, and how those directly apply to my life.  I feel like sharing, so let this be my expression :)

1.  Look where you want to go

There's this rule that some riders learn more harshly than other, that you'll ride your bike directly where you look.  It's simple, but feels somehow surnatural when you're first exposed to it.  The game, when you're exposed to a stressful situation, is not to get the bike to go where you want it to, or whether the tires/suspension or whatever else will work or grip or do it's thing.  The game is to get your eyes to point to the safe spot ahead.  If you do so, lo and behold, you'll be headed right there.  The problem is that fear doesn't want you to look at the safe spot ahead.  It wants you to look at that ditch, at those 18 wheelers' wheels right there, or at that fence just a few feet away.  You know you're taking that turn at a speed outside your comfort zone.  You know there's danger, real danger, right there.  And you hopefully know that you shouldn't look there.  But fear's goal is to make sure you know, that you're aware, that you're looking and staring at it.

I have looked at the grass just outside that highway's exit I was coming fast in.  And I went there, elegantly bounced on the grass, gently tearing my shirt off and smoothly rubbing some skin away.  I've done the same in a racing class at Calabogie, to my ridemates' amazement.  I vividly remember the tall guy who was riding behind me say: "I don't understand, we were all taking that turn, everything was fine, then you looked out and ran off the track".  I felt fear, I was going too fast, it wasn't my rhythm, I shouldn't have come in that way.  I looked at the grass just outside the curve.  Not much damage, I could fix the little things and get back on track in the afternoon.  One bandage on an arm to make the nurse happy.

I somewhen got the lesson, and started forcefully controlling my eyes to look where I wanted to go and completely avoid looking anywhere nasty.

Another of my vivid souvenir is of an highway exchanger I took pretty fast on my road bike.  I saw the deep deep ditch right in front of me.  The road was going away on the right side, and all that was left was that ditch.  I could imagine going in and smashing my body, thoroughly protected by my old jeans and black tshirt, ramming onto the other side of it at high speed.  I could think of the damage to the bike, and to the damage it would do to me if I were to hit the other side of that ditch before it rammed down and bounced back to join me in a dance as sensual as a two hundred kilogram mass of hot metal smashing into a recently decelerated human body can be.

But I remembered, cleared those negative thoughts, took control of my neck and eyeballs, turning everything to the right where there was still asphalt, good traction and nobody calling ambulances.  I used the controls awkwardly, doing my best to do the right thing.  Or rather doing the right thing, since I was taking that turn.  I had a good sweat, but kept breathing and needed no bandages.  I'd seen that way and went there.  And I didn't fight to get where I was looking at, the bike just took me there.

Now I see the same thing in my life.  A job interview, a stressful date, a difficult meeting, anything that scares me.  There are about a million things that can go wrong.  Or more, if I take the time to think about it.  But it can also go well.  It can even go fantastically well.  What I see in my head is what I'll head for.  I've explored my masochistic side, thank you. I now prefer not making my life harder than it has to be.

If you're anything like me, you can take that lesson without risking your life to earn it.  If you sometimes, or worst, often, see dark scenarios, concentrate on bad outcomes, or otherwise plan for your life to go bad, try this.  Get your eyes off the ditch.  Get that bad movie out of your head.  If you're already doing it, take this as a reminder.  Whenever you feel fear or unease, whenever you get stressed, take inventory of your head's content.  Anything dark in there?  Find that light thing, just beside it.  Then lock on it, and see where it goes.

As my yoga teachers and I say to each other,