Photo credit, Bill Curry


FROM: Nanook of the North

RE: Workplace Harassment – J. Burns, Man of Letters and So. Cal. Schadenfreude Chucklehead

While working diligently on an optimistic, uplifting welcome-to-Spring column recently, it has come to my attention that one John Burns, currently in your employ, took time out from hating (i.e., loving) on Peter Egan to act egregiously, and with malice aforethought, towards a good 2/3’s of this nation, of which I constitute a member of one. If you add up the wife and the dog, that’s three, or two and a half, whatevah (insert central Maine accent here). To whit his recent Facebook post:

“John’s remarkably crappy parking job and sophomorically backlit photo depicting the good life which… eh, kinda looks pretty darn good.”

John’s remarkably crappy parking job and sophomorically backlit photo depicting the good life which … eh, kinda looks pretty darn good.

“What? It’s cold back there? Why don’t you move west it’s a nice day at the beach (sic).” To which he added this insipid and quite frankly hastily composed picture of a motorcycle, badly parked, I might add. (Cripes, John, backlighting, really?), I think his intent being quite clear, none other than to provide a sprinkling of pain and angst atop the ice and snow that we are currently subject to. He’s using words that hurt again, Sean, this is unacceptable.

We observe, out of necessity, this thing they call seasons. Unfortunately we have had a particularly stubborn and reluctant-to-leave season this year called winter, and as far as two-wheeled life goes, I’m going to let the cat out of the bag here: Winter sucks. I can explain, it’s fairly straightforward.

It snows, it sleets, it blows, it freezing rains, sometimes all at the same time. These things, as you might imagine, hug the meat, unless you like clubbing baby seals for sporting purposes. It makes two-wheeled activity problematic. Why, you might wonder? I’ll tell you why.

Suspensions don’t suspend because oil with the viscosity of molasses doesn’t like going through orifices the size of a gnat’s arse. Motorcycle tires work on heat. There is no heat. Then there is the concurrent pain in the ass of having to work outside on bikes. Carb boots won’t give, fuel lines act more like fuel conduit, refusing to leave petcocks, and the smallest of knuckle busters feels as though you just hit your hand with a 15 pound sledgehammer. Mother Nature is truly being a mother, uhhhh … yeah … Not to mention dressing like an extra to a Siege of Stalingrad docu-drama to simply ride anywhere.

There’s no promise to winter. There’s potential, there’s hope, but there is no real promise. Spring is opportunity; maybe a championship, a beautiful girl, a new start, it’s a brand new world. Winter is maintaining, spring is on the gas.

You can see it in garages, in basements, and in bike shops across the region. All eyes are on spring. All expectations and hopes and aspirations, all waiting, working, tinkering away, acquiring parts, with only that one thing in mind; that first race, that first ride, that first thaw, that first charge for pit out.

Magic things happen in the spring – anything is possible. I had a guy I grew up with from grade school all the way up through high school. He was a big kid, we fought like cats and dogs early on as youngsters. You develop these angry feelings when you’re covered in Calamine lotion and some smart ass turns a garden hose on you. I thought he was something of a bully and I didn’t like him very much, but spring being spring, and what with the years passing in high school, the strangest thing happened.

Spring brings magic things, youthful enthusiasm, chia convertible tops, a lot of green stuff and maybe a collar bone and a rotator cuff to heal up.

Spring brings magic things, youthful enthusiasm, chia convertible tops, a lot of green stuff and maybe a collar bone and a rotator cuff to heal up.

Very few people rode street bikes where I went to school, but John my bully-friend and I both did, and he’d park next to me at school. I never even knew that XS650 was his bike. And then we tripped over each other one day departing at the same time, and the funniest thing happened. We started talking bikes. Then we started talking girlfriends, and plans for life, and all that high school stuff that young fellas are trying to figure out. And then the best thing happened. We just went riding.

It makes sense John could ride. I knew his dad rode – big Harley baggers – and John had monkeyed around on dirtbikes and could definitely ride a bike. We went down to Great Falls, Maryland. The entrance road to the park is a curvy piece of tarmac and, in early spring, it is empty, and he’s just dragging pegs. Every transition; left, right, left, smooth but counter-steering that load like nobody’s business. And I thought, “Huh, this guy can get around a corner.” And we became friends. I found out he was a decent guy with a lot of the same hopes for the future I had, and I liked him. That’s spring for you. Even the impossible can be possible.

This ebb and flow with the seasons is everywhere – it’s evident on dealer showroom floors. If you have worked in a bike shop in the dead of winter you know what I’m talking about. Oh sure, you might get something of a holiday rush of sorts for Christmas gifts, maybe some big ticket items; kiddie quads, accessories, apparel. But it really is a down time, floor traffic falls off, only the hardcore customers come in and hang out, thank goodness, they’re waiting for spring too.

Suzuki TL1000S intro, Homestead-Miami Speedway, a really nice warm place. (photo credit, Tom Riles)

Suzuki TL1000S intro, Homestead-Miami Speedway, a really nice warm place. (photo credit, Tom Riles)

There are reprieves if you are one of the truly blessed, which basically means a really, really fast factory guy, or some tweedy moto-journalist. There are off-season tire tests, bike intros, and things of this nature. They are like manna from heaven. Suzuki has a new GSX-R at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Dunlop has new rubber at Phoenix International Raceway, Honda has a new Interceptor in Oceanside, and there is absolutely, positively, nothing better than these reprieves. You are surrounded by like-minded loons in a beautiful facility or on fantastic roads, and you are doing what you love best in a meteorological anomaly that knows no winter. They simply do not have seasons in these places, which brings me back to one Mssr. J. Burns.

The whole point being that spring is great and John Burns sucks worms (with apologies to the creators of *MASH*). He has obviously forgotten his roots in America’s hinterlands, where undoubtedly whatever hawgwaller he hailed from suffered through some variation of Winter, and he is sorely in need of some sensitivity training. Hopefully these corrective sessions will be conducted by some interminably bubbly HR person with mind-numbing PowerPoint presentations that will reduce his forebrain to something resembling reconstituted rice. Ideally this would be done in a suitable location like, say, Buffalo … in February … in a GP medium tent.

I hope you can look into this first thing, as our outlook here, seasonally speaking, seems to be still hanging in the balance. Many thanks in advance.

– Your Working Boy

Chris Kallfelz

About the Author: Chris Kallfelz is an orphaned Irish Catholic German Jew from a broken home with distinctly Buddhist tendencies. He hasn’t got the sense God gave seafood. Nice women seem to like him on occasion, for which he is eternally thankful, and he wrecks cars, badly, which is why bikes make sense. He doesn’t wreck bikes, unless they are on a track in closed course competition, and then all bets are off. He can hold a reasonable dinner conversation, eats with his mouth closed, and quotes Blaise Pascal when he’s not trying to high-side something for a five-dollar trophy. He’s been educated everywhere, and can ride bikes, commercial airliners and main battle tanks.