The death of a motorcycle.

December 3, 2010

“It’s a time bomb waiting to happen.”

That was what he said.

“This will not serve you, it will be $100 here, $100 there, then the parts you’ll get will come out of another worn out bike just like this one.”

“Someone has been in the engine… done things wrong… ”

“I fixed the electrical system but it won’t even keep the charge on the battery, there’s a short somewhere.. the wiring is a mess… someone monkeyed around with the wires… “

IO. (pronounced Ee-oh) I never told his name. I was too shy, I would have had to explain and tell how to pronounce it. I had named him somewhere between the Pacific Coast and the Grand Canyon.

I worked really hard at not falling apart. My voice choked up some and my head went somewhere gray and bare.


My bike.

The end of the road.

I looked at it. I said “My baby” Don talked some more, I am keeping it together.

“Thanks, I’ll see you soon, I’ll try to arrange to pick it up as soon as I can”

“you got my number?”


I got back on Little Blue, started his V twin Harley heart.

I feel nothing.

I am heading towards North Hollywood. Lankershim. I recognize the corner, that was where my back brake seized for a second time, it was 110 degrees and Brian came to help me, more like saving me from heat stroke. right now I am heading North to get computer parts. I get there quickly. They are Chinese.

“Have a sit” They say. They fumble around they don’t have the parts. I had called in the morning. I sighed and left.

I still don’t feel anything. I’m numb. I keep an eye on traffic, it always thickens up when the 134 gets close to the I-5 junction. I split lanes, I am in motion, It’s not bad.

It is when I get back on the 210 that it hits me. In my mind I hear in a loop :

“ It’s a time bomb waiting to happen”

My friend. My everything I have. My machine. My metal heart. My beautiful red, white and black pride and joy. My bike. My first bike.

Like a first love, never to be equaled, matched, surpassed.

“It’s a time bomb waiting to happen”

I keep rolling down the 210 with an ache in my heart while damming a flood of tears that I hold back.

“Don’t cry.”

This is not a surprise. I’ve been knowing for a while that it was getting tired. I kept praying for the few fixes that would restore the heart. The simple repair that would kick it into fabulous shape. But in all honesty, I’ve been knowing. On the road, there was a point where some life just left. In Death Valley it was clear, I knew. Yet the joy of riding under the moon, on a perfect night, with that engine just purring.

“Just you and me baby…” It was so utterly magical, perfect, tuned, the scenery, the sound, the air just caressing, the relief of the land after the heat of the day. Perfect moonshine night with wisps of fog, magical colors and the infinity of this road in the night.

“It’s old.” Chris was admonishing me, telling me I should get a newer bike last time I was there.

A little longer, please. One more ride. One more tour over, under, above, around, up at 10 thousand feet or below sea level… That you could take me away once more. That I could hear the low growl or the supersonic whine at over 100 MPH. Just you and me, forever and ever…

Don’t leave me… Don’t stop… Don’t give up… You can’t just.. stop. What will happen to me without you?

I got to San Dimas. Got gas for Little Blue. The young guy at the station said, full of admiration “That’s a nice bike!” He means it. Little Blue’s a hot little number.

I get home, put the bike and the helmet away. I walk in. Try to keep a straight face. I said :

“I got the lowdown on the bike, I saw Don today.” Both Ozzy and Melanie are staring at me now.

“he said : it’s a time bomb waiting to happen.”

I cried. I didn’t want to. But I did.

My bike. My dream machine.

We chat for a bit. I try to calm myself down. The worst of this is the heartbreak. I am losing a friend. Pure heartbreak. That black hole of pain. If only I could just not get attached. For me it’s always all or nothing. It’s for life, forever. But life on earth is not like that. Things change, separate, die. It just kills me.

I decide to go for a walk. I wanted to go in the park, the Frank G Bonnelli park, it’s beautiful. But the sun is coming down, it’s going to be dark really soon so I turn around and walk down the road.

My legs are leaded. Heavy. Like my heart. All these images of all the places we’ve been. New York State with Jim and Linda… Jim wanted it to take me home and it did take me here. Utah.. New Mexico.. the Natchez trace…

I remember when I first heard it. I head that engine coming down the road. Perry had just got it. I sat on the back, I didn’t even have a license then, it was windy, cold and somewhat scary as I was holding on to the waist of the husband, the one and only, who was about to leave me for good. I had made room in the garage, along with my stones and sculptures. He rolled it in and then again started the engine.

“Oh, that sounds good”

That sound even changed my music.

A couple weeks later it was mine. Perry had bought it to leave me. But soon after buying it he realized he wanted something bigger. So I had shyly asked if I could have it… I had always wanted a bike since I was a teen… A couple of weeks later the bike was mine and he was gone.

I still had to get the license so in the mean time I would go in the garage and sit on it. Practice my pre-trip check. Start it. Move it back and forth to learn to hold it and put the kick stand up or down. I had my motorcycle course manual in hand. I was awed, excited and very respectful all at once.

Then I got my license. And my life changed forever.

I kept walking, following the outline of the park, then the airport, then a busy road. I walked about 8 miles in the dark. I went through all sorts of emotions.

I thought that some people’s bad news are about getting cancer. Or worse. Who am I to cry?

I thought about these lessons of mine, about letting go. Fighting between letting go and peace and wondering how much can I lose before I’m just a bundle of lonely soreness.

I thought of the soaring roads we coursed together, as one.

I thought the timing gave me a chance to not be slayed by the news. It would have done that only a month ago, because a month ago the bike was all I had… Now I have a guitar, well 2 and a newly broken heart. Sounds like a song.

Today Norman said life, was the journey, that I was on it. Yeah. I am. I sure am.

My IO. My beautiful bike. All that you have done for me. In the deep of night, in the blazing sun.

I thank your dark metal heart.


10 Responses to “The death of a motorcycle.”

  1. Danielle…Hampton Station, Oregon is where you and I chatted for a few moments last Summer. A day has not passed during my continuing walk with SAM to Oklahoma City that you, Danielle, were not on my mind. Many folks learned of you and your search from my lips. watching for you as you rode by…they, on their own life quest. Surprises me you did not name your bike “Perry”…a lousy substitute for a used-to-be-partner. I, too, have been searching and have 4 times lost all things – 100% – and in a few days will for the 5th time lose as SAM & ME again start walking from The Peace Arch. You are not alone out there. I for one am chugging alongside. Will be looking for you on that lonely stretch…with tears in my eyes for you…and for ME, I wish you a smooth ride…SAM & ME / Bruce

  2. Death of a motorcycle…from Death comes new Life.

  3. Aaron Gonzales Says:

    Oh Danielle, I’m am so sorry to hear of this sad news. I know your readers grieve for/with you and your fellow motorcycle rider grieve a little more. There is a sticker (for motorcyclist) that says, “If I have to explain, you wouldn’t understand”. I don’t have my 1st motorcycle anymore, but I do have a small scale model of it (1990 Ninja 600R). The spirit of that bike is still with me. You have done way more with this bike than some people do in their lifetime on any bike. You may be sad for awhile, but soon you will be able to smile about all of the good times and bad times that you and IO have lived through. Keep your head and eyes UP, I think your journey is about to take a new and interesting path.

  4. David Walker Says:

    So sorry to hear this. But then maybe it took you to where you need to be and now can retire.

  5. Kate King Says:

    So it goes, life and death always the cycle….

    A metal horse that fails and dies vs a mountain bike that is stolen from the docks

    Each symbolic of the death of …. and the new life and beginning of …..

  6. Christopher Percy Says:

    Well i’m just thankful that the time bomb waiting to happen did not happen with you on it. You have a new ride to look forward to. That’s exciting. We should talk about that….soon.

  7. bobskoot Says:


    I’m so sorry for losing IO. I have been following your adventures and now feel deeply saddened. I hope a miracle happens soon, after all, it’s Christmas

    Wet Coast Scootin

  8. This breaks my heart, Danielle. Yet, the homage you give IO is on of the most beautiful and poetic expression I’ve ever beheld. Wow – you speak to the rider that is in my heart. The picture you painted feel like the time we are all in. I pray that your heart heals soon. I am also thankful for the bless that IO has given me: YOU – a wonderful friend and new music soulmate! Blessings, Danielle.


  9. Alan Says:

    New bike for Danielle, then…. a steam / electric hybrid:

    Quantum Leap Unlimited

    Onward, Upward

  10. Pete Says:

    So so sorry to hear the news about your metal heart. I have just begun the restoration work on mine. This was the one ya saw on the trailer just out side of Milwaukee just before strugis. I may need a few parts if your not going to run her. Just let me know what you decide sweety.
    Have as good a day as you can dear

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