It’s that time of year again. There is ice, and snow, and muck outside and the wife is making noises about, “tidying up” the basement. In the absence of a garage the basement is, in large part anyway, my domain. Nothing strikes fear in my heart like hearing her utter that phrase, “tidying up.” Tidying up in her parlance means disappeared, like the Bermuda Triangle, never to be seen again.
I am a man with a lot of junk; layered, stacked, boxed, organized, reorganized, and cross-referenced junk. In much the same way you can trace the geological development of the Miocene age by sifting through the layers of diatomaceous Earth, dark sandy clays, and marl strata in the Atlantic coastal plain region, a big chunk of which I live on top of, you can likewise travel back in time and trace the development of late 20th – 21st century performance motorcycles, safety gear, and American road racing by sifting through the layers of motorcycle related crap located in my basement.
Let’s go down here and take a little look around and see what all the fuss is over. Okay, first off she is not all wrong. The assorted collection of take-offs and fried street tires may be a bit over the top. Nobody really needs an old set of Tom Kipp’s Dunlop D-364s from the, “factory teams get all the good tires,” era, or Dr. Bob Meister’s fried slicks. She may have a minor point there. Or the toasty Metzelers, Pirellis, Michelins and… Cheng Shins? Where did those come from? Tires from last century are probably pushing it. Oh well, we all have our cross to bear, I suppose. You change tires for friends, you have old tires, you stack them up, next thing you know you have a lot of old tires.
Then, after you trip over the Marchesinis with the Bridgestone rains on them, we have the completely disassembled Honda CB350, an aborted WERA GP350 project for a buddy of mine who wanted to go racing on the cheap. As it was we got him on the track with another vintage bike that came along and he got his license. Somebody will be able to put these parts; the frame, the engine, the swingarm, to good use though. Likewise with the boxes of turn signals, centerstands, and mirrors stripped from decades of bikes heading for the track. There’s always some new guy tipping over a street bike and mangling those pieces apart. They’ll get used.
The problem is so much of this stuff conjures memories, some with some unique history. This stuff has meaning. Take something as simple as a lonely Yosh-Suzuki black ignition box sitting atop that work bench over there. That black box was supplied to AMA Pro Racing back in 1994 to conform to the 750 SuperSport rules of the day. The way the rules were written there were concerns of all sorts; tampering with ignition curves, stopping assembly lines to weigh and measure parts to assemble what would be as close to a balanced and blueprinted motor as possible, even the fuel of the day was making tech inspectors sick and they were running all kinds of tests to figure out what they were dealing with. It seemed everybody knew that somebody, somewhere was cheating, they just weren’t sure how.
The funny thing was, and this is just a small example, but if there actually was tampering going on, and the rules required the race team to supply an alternate and representative black box, don’t you think that would be similarly altered as well? Sure it would. Nothing was ever proven, and there sits that box with its little AMA Tech sticker on it, the bike it belongs to sits across the basement. And all the brand new cylinders, cases, crankshaft, stock plastic, and everything else sits in between, all presumably within factory spec, or factory perfect spec, or not.
The memories waiting to happen are just as numerous, spares for every crash contingency in the world; levers, bars, controls, pegs, spare gearing for everything from Bonneville to hill climbs, multiplied by the available bikes. Not to mention the charging assemblies for the two total loss bikes, the tire warmers, and to think, this could be tidied up! To where? Who knows?
I could warn her of the hazards of Miocene era tidying, though I doubt it would have much effect: “Collecting at the base of the high cliffs is not recommended. Access to the area is difficult, and most of the land is privately owned. In addition, large blocks often fall from the overhanging cliffs and can cause serious accidents.”
Although if that large crate of RZ350 parts were to come down on her head it might get her attention. The only thing worse would be Burns sending me one of his snotty California life-in-paradise beach photos right now. The best bet is to bide my time and just hope spring arrives before this plan comes to fruition, because just as certain as I can become distracted by the smallest of things in the basement moto-related, she will be planting mums and moving the plants outside.
If I can just make it to March with my junk intact (and ignore the boxes in the living room), she will be distracted by spring and I’ll be in the clear again. At least until next February. Ride hard, keep an eye on your junk, and look where you want to go.