Friends, a gig, a Buell, music… Yeah.

October 31, 2010

Saturday night, it’s getting late : 00:51 says the laptop. I am slowly coming down, relaxing after the show. I was playing at Butlers Coffee in Palmdale. I had the luck, luxury and pleasure to have Forrest play with me. The house was technically full, all seats occupied. A very eclectic crowd from grand-mothers to cowboys, to aerospace scientists… On our way there we were chauffeured by Ozzy, saw the amazing Lancaster Sunset, the fields of urban Joshua trees pumpkins and a local fair… all beautiful.

Tonight, Leo also shared the stage with Forrest and I. He sure is a lucky dog.

I’m sitting here just marveling at the way my life is drawing itself, day after day, into this magnificent tapestry of good souls, indelible moments, heartbreaking beauty and powerful lessons in trust and patience. I think that I might be getting to be a better student. Learning to wait for the purposes to reveal themselves, learning to trust, learning to be humble enough to accept that I don’t know or understand it all sometimes.

I’m sitting here with Leo. I am in a quiet house. A clock ticks the seconds, the sound of the laptop running and another electrical sound from outside sitting on a Bb (B flat, a musical note) and filling the night air. Last Tuesday night I was rescued from the side of the road by Melanie and Ozzy.

After my Tuesday night AAA tow truck ride from Yucca Valley to Los Angeles they took me in their home. They came and got me and my gear. Me standing on the corner of Fletcher Street by the Freeway, in full leather but bikeless.

While I waited for them to arrive I was thinking about the precariousness of my situation. Cars zoomed by, their passengers intrigued by this woman standing there on the sidewalk, holding bags and a helmet past eleven PM.

The black Cadillac pulled on Fletcher and turned around. Melanie came out. Hugs. We put my stuff in the trunk. The inside of the car is beautiful and white. I am almost embarrassed to step in, it’s so clean and new… I am filthy from two days of road grime without a shower. I am embarrassed to become a burden. Embarrassed to have pulled these people out of their warm home to come pick me up on this street corner. I feel a tug in my heart for leaving my bike in this dark corner behind the dumpster. Embarrassed to not have been independent enough to deal with all this by myself.

Melanie appeared on this blog before. She is an artist, a brilliant one at that ( go see for yourself : ). And, she is a motorcycle rider. A real one. She took her Triumph Bonneville on a 12 000 miles trek around the continent. She had left on June 2nd I believe. I had left on June 6th. Lots of affinity and admiration here. She is cool, gentle, beautiful, generous and also a powerhouse.

Wednesday I was in a daze. Thursday I tried to catch up on the blog, emails, phone calls…

Friday I learned what is up with the bike, or should I say what is down with the bike. To use the words of my mechanic : “The electrical system is fried.” I had hoped for a bad battery at first. Then I was told the charging system would not do its job… I was still hoping for a defective regulator, something simple… Nope. Same issues that I had in Rochester : stator, regulator, rectifier, battery dead.

I learned that by way of text message while I went out with Melanie and Ozzy for a Friday end of week drink. I crumbled for a moment. You always hope it’s going to be minor, innocuous, no big deal, I’ll be back running in no time kind of thing even if in your heart of hearts you know it ain’t gonna be like that.

I sat there, looking at the text message and my surroundings vanished. I looked at the white letters on the blue background of my phone’s screen seeing dancing dollar signs, my dwindling bank account, the transmission & starter troubles, , the age of the bike with a voice saying : “a bike is old at 20 thousand miles” the guy at the motorcycle dealership had said to me…..

I was seeing myself standing up strikingly alone on a map of North America, like the little orange guy you get on the Google map street-view, on foot, broke, staring in all directions with nowhere to go…. vulnerable, insignificant.

My surroundings came back as I tapped the phone lightly and nervously on the table top. I shared the news with Melanie and Ozzy. Ozzy knows a lot about bikes, he is a rider too, with tons of miles and experience. He told me the bike is in the best hands available in the whole of the US. It will get fixed. I am OK.. They will help…

Help. This is a tough one for me. I have learned to be independent, I have been told since childhood that I had to be independent. I have lived that way to a fault. Not knowing when to let people help. Feeling like a failure if I had to ask for help. Right now I have no choice in the matter.

It’s incredibly unsettling to me not to have my bike. It is a part of me. It is like a limb, my metal heart. We have a relationship and now we’re separated, and my world is shaken.


I must be willing to change my viewpoint. To keep my stride fluid and strong.

I look at them both. Again I wonder, what have I done to deserve such gifts, such goodness.

So what the hell is up with the bike? Those bikes are known for this problem. It is their weakness. I learned that in the early 80’s there was a lot of experimentation with the electrical systems. This is one of the failures. They got it figured out in the 90’s.

I was also told that there is a “geek” fix to this : Use a regulator from a Honda motorcycle.. I don’t know what model but I heard that with this alien part there is no more “frying the stator and battery and miscellaneous wires to be had. That would be cool. Ozzy also reassured me that the “20 thousand miles is old for a motorcycle” is bull. A bike can go up to 75 thousand miles… and more with some love. That made me smile. That equals another 4 trips of this magnitude for us together. I like the thought. Baby needs some help right now. OK I can allow for that.

In the mean time I am posted in San Dimas, 30 minutes East of Altadena on the Freeway. It’s a beautiful area. Lots and lots of trees and a neat downtown with great food and coffee. And to boot, I am not walking….

Little Blue is here for me to use whenever I want. Little Blue is an 984cc XP9 R Buell motorcycle. Don’t be fooled by his name, there is nothing little about this machine… It growls like a Harley at rest, It has torque to make you really have to hang on to the handlebars when you accelerate and it surges ahead like a thoroughbred that has been in his stall for two days when you shift gears… I was still in 3rd gear at 80 MPH..

We are at the polite stage right now, like :


“Oh, hi”

“I’m Danielle…”

“They call me Little Blue”

“So… you’d like to go for a ride, maybe?”

“Hmmm, yeah… I would, I think”

“Which way would you like to go?”

“It doesn’t matter to me, whatever you’d like”

“All right, I’ll just get my helmet…”

“No problem, take your time…”

We might head out to San Diego this week. I found a guitar maker there who makes travel size guitars, they look funny but so far they are the ones that have garnered glowing reviews : great craftsmanship and sound. ( ) I emailed them and they said to come and visit anytime.

As I said, the adventure is still on. Definitely.


3 Responses to “Friends, a gig, a Buell, music… Yeah.”

  1. Chris Says:

    Hey Danielle. My friend Hugh has 80K on his R-1 and another guy I know has 160 + K on his R-1. So yes they can definatly go for a long time as lomg as they are well cared for. Keeo in mind though your bike is much older. Just keep on keeping on and ride safe. Hugs. C

    • danielle Says:

      Hugs back…. always so good to hear from you. Yes, I keep on. It’s just wild. I am in a vortex, it’s taking me somewhere.. and along I go..

      Love ya.


  2. David Walker Says:

    You are blessed, every time you leap or fall, a net appears. You must be following your bliss. Joseph Campbell would say that is exactly what you should do and that what is happening will continue. Thank you for sharing. I love Joshua tree. Every spring we went there to catch the wild flowers blooming. The elevation range within the park makes it more likely that you will find the flowers. I am glad that Joshua tree was good to you. It has always been good to me.

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