Saturday, July 24, 2010


There are garages where motorcycles rest, waiting for a spot of attention from a devoted owner, or even better, a ride in the sun.  There are garages where motorcycles rot, sitting endlessly, slowly evaporating from inattention.  There are garages full of projects, waiting for the time which usually never comes, while small parts scatter like mice under the feet of distracted owners.

Some garages are palaces, some are shrines, some are nightmares.  And on rare occasions, you are led to a garage which is a haven, an evocation, rich with the possibility of adventure, where every motorcycle has a fine sheen of oil, and looks as if it has just been ridden.  And Every. Single. Motorcycle. Runs.

I was treated to just such garage today, a remarkable thing, whose keeper has for decades held a watchful eye for unrestored and original motorcycles.  Yes, there are a few shiny bikes here, but not many, and the gloss of new chrome in such company seems merely thin, the piping voice of a student in a room of pipe-smoking sages.

The magic of old paint and oxide and oiled steel is the promise of a Story - every dent, every flaw, every rough and rust-pitted wheel, all speak to decades of experience, places traveled, adventures of youth and speed, small tragedies, joyous bursting spring days on empty roads and a rising throttle, earnest hands oily and tending to the needs of the beast.

And the special effect of an unrestored machine is telescoping past all those years of use, neglect, sleep, and resurrection, to see straight back to the maker's finish as it left the factory; not an accurate copy but the real deal, no arguments...just take your education here sonny boy, this is how it was. 

And for such a man's efforts, his good sense to preserve a library in metal and oil and rubber, a place where the feel of the past can be learned as by braille, we are thankful.