Sunday, March 11
For more than a year, I’ve complained about my microscopic ear canals that refuse entrée to anything larger than a pencil point. Thus every x-small to small plugs I’ve tried, my ears show their displeasure by spitting them out as far as possible the second I remove my helmet and throwing in a subsequent earache to boot. I thought I’d finally resolved my problem when I bought custom made plugs at the Cycle World Moto Show here in February.
I brought Queenie home Saturday afternoon. Before leaving home, I made sure I removed my new earplugs from their little yellow box to take with me. The train is several blocks away and my new boots felt like top of the line walking shoes! My reading on the train was distracted by thoughts of how it would feel to ride the bike for the first time since November 31, 2006. The shop had her outside, all dolled up waiting for me. In the words of Fernando Llamas, “She looked “Mahvahlous!” with her new Givi luggage and matching blue windscreen. Before mounting her, I inserted the earplugs; it took little effort for them to slip into place. I put on my Nolan and the world turned a bit quieter. I swung my leg higher than ever to clear the luggage. Pushing her off the center stand brought back fond memories; still, it seemed longer than 3.5 months since my last ride.
First impression: I felt rusty. My friction zone memory seemed fuzzy. Changing gears seemed stiff. I didn’t know if the boots were the issue or if the shifting indeed was harder than before. More than a few times, I couldn’t get into the second gear easily. I had to push hard and this bothered me. Ordinarily, my SV shifts smoothly, seamlessly and easily. I yearned for that feeling. I rode conservatively and cautiously, carefully maneuvering through the heavy homeward bound traffic.
The earplugs effectively shut out the engine and surrounding noise but not so much that I couldn’t hear what transpired around me—life was simply more muffled. Still, I felt like a novice. I took a route that required me to ascend a challenging incline with a mandatory stop at the top. Last summer, this would have been a non-issue. Saturday, I thought about it as I neared the steep incline. I managed it well but the second nature feeling about it seemed dormant from months of disuse.
Right ear Duplicity--
Inside the garage, I removed my helmet and immediately noticed that my hearing seemed lopsided and more acute out of one ear than the other. I searched for the earplugs. Only the left one was in place! I looked inside the helmet, removing the liner thinking that it had fallen inside the ear well and perhaps worked its way behind the liner. I couldn’t find it. I removed my jacket and performed my own strip search. I studied the ground. After talking to the garage attendant to let him know the bike was back, I moved the bike to its designated parking space and removed the side cases. I removed my jacket again and again patted myself down to no avail.
I couldn’t bear the thought of losing a plug before the season started—I felt some crying coming on. Just my rotten luck finally to spend the money on custom plugs only to lose them first “ride” out, a mere ten miles journey. My heart sank thinking about the money I’d just thrown away. As I headed toward the elevator something whispered, “Take another look.” I carried the luggage down the ramp near the entrance where I first removed my helmet. I studied the ground. I zeroed in on the dirty, oil-stained concrete and there I saw it, the little purple plug. I retrieved it and thanked the Higher Power. Evidently, when I removed the helmet, my right ear heaved the plug like a missile.
Whew! I’m glad I can still put my money where my ears are! Still, I’m thinking I’ve discovered another use for duct tape!