After a bonsai hour of driving home and a frantic half hour of pushing, re
arranging, setting tire pressures, and donning gear, I'm running out the
closing garage door. Burbling raggedly in the cold rays of a winter sunset,
the 11 gleams like a bloody knife. Thirty minutes to darkness.
She is a weapon, molded to my body. The immediacy of the controls is
frightening. Just the slightest touch yields a HUGE response. I ride the
stream of Japanese sedans and rusty pickups out of town.
Four clicks down and a left onto Sugar Island Road. A handful of throttle
puts the last truck behind me. Moments later, the scenery is a blur and the
wind is cutting through my leathers. Every pole, boulder, and barbed wire
fence stands out in sharp relief. Was she always this fast?
The corners mock me. Debris and 45 degree pavement are not providing any grip
for my Dunlops. I take the double ess curve outside Aroma Park at 70 mph.
The norm on a hot day is 100 plus.
Wheelspin is ripping huge holes in my confidence. Leaving one corner, the
bike rear steers and then wheelies, resulting in a mild tank slapper on
touchdown. That is nowhere near as terrifying as the deer that steps into my
path as the speedo needle swings past 120 mph. Even as Bambi scrambles for
traction on the slippery asphalt, I find myself smiling as I hear the familiar
sizzle of full floating rotors being used hard.
By the time we turn down the River Road toward home, we are lovers reunited.
She tolerates my awkwardness and rewards my efforts with a gracefulness I
could never manage alone. Deep in my heart I know that she is still plotting
to kill me, but when I hear her primal shriek, how can I resist her?
5:30pm, CST. Before I turn out the garage light, I give Baby one last loving
glance. She looks so... HAPPY!

Chris Onwiler ( 2/10/99