A Motorcycle is Not A Horse

Our magic transport

One would expect the balance, anticipation, body position, and core strength of horsemanship to add a slight advantage to someone switching to motorcycling but I now question that. Brice (not his real name to protect his innocence but his real name is John B. Stelfox, I can provide his phone number if you want to send insults) still holds the Edmonton motorcycle record for shortest distance travelled before crashing — 18 inches. I have eaten sandwiches longer than that. He swung a leg over a brand new 800cc BMW like the accomplished horseman that he is, stood on the pegs like a balanced off road pro, rocked forward off the centre stand and just kept going right over. Lesson number one; footpegs are not stirrups; Lesson number two: horses have four contact points with the ground, motorcycles have half that many. Lesson number three; motorcycle riding gear and helmets are extremely hot when containing an entire body blush of embarrassment.

What now?

Brice has habit of checking on his new BMW R1250 GS regularly, daily in fact, and it seems that it never needs to be grained, hayed, and he seems genuinely and pleasantly surprised that he never has to muck out the garage. The saddle has received inordinate attention with shaving down for height, gel pad installation and we managed to talk him out of a saddle horn even if it would have been Sturgis-appropriate. The saddlebags are indeed something that are translate well and at any moment will contain emergency food, water, rain gear and farrier tools such as a tire repair kit and inflator.

Our steeds give us an elevated perch, speeds unobtainable otherwise, and can deliver us to delightful high mountain areas. They become extensions of our selves and partners in experiences.It is quite hard not to imbue them with some sense of treasured other status, name them, worry over engine treatment, and tend them when not in use.

Care and feeding are encouraged

I have stopped worrying about Brice kicking his heels into the wheels to urge more velocity but I deeply suspect some helmet interior clucking noises on acceleration. Most recently, we took a delightful misty ride up into the foothills north of Abbotsford, British Columbia past salmon fishermen, river bridges, and small communities. The bikes came back filthy but no problem, we have a wash bay in my condo basement so we hosed them down and “curried” their wheels, frames and bodywork. I warmed mine up to dry and parked it upstairs but waiting waiting, no Brice. Eventually he walked up arms akimbo and mouth twisted up. “Whazup? Bike wouldn’t start? — Worse, “It fell over again?” Worse “It CAUGHT ON FIRE?” Worse!

Dropping the reins on a well-trained horse means it stops and stands, however, dropping the $350 proximity key fob of a motorcycle only means it bounces on the pavement and goes right through the manhole grate into the deep sump water well. I suppose that means Brice can ride his $28,000 machine like a carousel horse in circles so long as he doesn’t get more than 30 feet from the drain’s proximity. A digital round-pen it seems.

Brice had leapt off the bike with alacrity and all the adroitness of a steer bulldogger, flung the 80 lb cast iron grate aside with two fingers and plunged his arm into the trap stinking mildly of sewage and grease. No avail. After I finished my eruptive hyena imitation, we decided to go full McIver, maybe we could fish this thing out! Too deep to reach, possible to grapple? Siphon the sump clear?

The ole’ fishin’ hole.

We decided to use a big fishing magnet, so off to Home Depot but alas, they were out of big pick up magnets but the bored isle salesman got caught up in the project and slipped into the employee area. He returned with a thin strip of metal holding two embedded rare earth magnets- clearly some fellow employee’s name tag is going to fall off next shift. Tape this to a window-washing pole and let the great fish begin.

Up came sheet metal screws, washers, metal filings, then slowly, slowly a heaviness was felt and up came the keys reeking of sewage! No bass fishing bubba or salty tuna mariner was ever happier!


We rinsed the worst of the outhouse stench and bingo the bike fired right up so we did indeed grain the beast by dessicating the keys in a bag full of dry rice on a warm floorboard. The big Bimmer is now put out to pasture while we apply heat and time to wait for this foundering to end.

What new adventures await this mechanical cayuse? I am thinking a high speed shoe failure, a loose bit, or a tumble over a jump is out there waiting to engage. Never a dull moment!



Lee Foote

Lee Foote


Southerner by birth, Northerner by choice, Casual person by nature.