During these days, and about through the end of February, riders stay inside by the fire with a cup of coffee or a dram of something stronger. They pour over maps and guidebooks. Motorcycle periodicals are read forward, backward and forward again. Local dealers are visited by folks knowing it’s safe to look, even to touch, but unsafe to test ride in icy conditions. Polite salespeople make conversation resigned that this is the season of low commission.
|(c) Ducati SpA - USA|
Removing a shop rag and a couple of end wrenches from the blanketed BMW, I shake myself into sensibleness and realize I must end it. I must make it down to the Ducati dealer, confront the little GT1000 and tell her that it is never to be.
Driving to the dealer, I expect the 2008 to be off in a corner, a dark place out of the traffic pattern for the dealer. Last time I was down there, I really had to look for her.
“Ducati builds motorcycles for a different market,” the salesman had said. “The retro style on this bike may be what you and I want, but apparently, the Ducatisti are looking for something else.”
“Too bad for them,” I tell him.
“I can make you a deal,” he says.
|(c) Ducati SpA - USA|
It won’t be me, however. I’m cutting her off. I’m not going to straddle her broad, comfortable seat, or twist her eager throttle. I’m not going to pull her clutch and shift through her five or six gears. I’m not going to sit there and imagine the songs her exhausts might sing. I’m just going to tell the salesman that she and I need some time. Alone.
I OPEN THE DOOR to the dealership and am immediately recognized. Without rising from the sales desk to shake my hand, I am told, “She’s gone.”
“Yep, gone.” Now the salesman rises. “Last week.”
I want to walk over to the dark corner of the show room just to make sure.
I stop. “How much?”
“You really want to know?”
“Just under eighty-five hundred.”
“That, that bitch.”
“She sold for two grand less than retail?” I am incredulous.
He shakes his head: “Three grand.”
I slump into the chrome-legged customer chair at the sales desk, and hang my head, muttering.
After a time, the salesman says, rather pointedly, “You gonna buy something today?”
NORMALLY, despondency is cured by a couple of hours riding some back road. But today, the outside temperature is 38. A covering of tule fog tells me that 38 is all it will get to be. I sit in the cab of my pickup wondering about what might have been. Condensation fogs the windows. It takes nearly five minutes for the glass to clear and during that time I determine I’ll take the long way home.
Traveling east on Auburn Boulevard, I pass the usual businesses – the muffler shop, the pancake house, the topless “gentleman’s” club, the Triumph dealer.
The Triumph dealer!
I wheel in.
With both feet lightly planted on the showroom floor, I lift the bike off her sidestand, pull in the clutch and twist the throttle. I wonder what she’ll sing to me on the road.
Church of the Open Road Press