Ralph Couey

Ralph Couey
Photo by Darryl Cannon, Powerhead Productions

About Me

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Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 62 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Rambling Thoughts on Calendars, Seasons, and Motorcycles

Copyright © 2011 by Ralph Couey
September 15th.
Man, wasn’t it August just 20 minutes ago?  Time is absolutely flying by these days, and for once I can’t blame it on my busy life.  I am busy, but the kind of busy that usually causes the clock and calendar to shift to warp speed.  This may that part of growing older that I’ve read about, that as the years pile up, the days seem to move much faster.
But whether I want it to or not, September is officially half over.  October, my favorite time of year is rapidly approaching.  It’s the one month of the year that I wish would slow down, take its time and drift languidly through its 31-day lifespan.  But as usually happens, there is a significant gap between what I want, and what actually is.
The heat and humidityof summer has finally left us here in the mountains.  The first breaths of cool air have blown down from Canada, and we are now in that time of year when weather shifts wildly and sometimes rapidly.  Two days ago, it was warm, humid, and still.  Tonight, we will have our first frost of the season.  This does create difficulties in dressing one’s self, especially for motorcycling.
In the mornings, I install the zip-in liners in jacket and pants, and don a sweatshirt for one more layer.  I put on my heavy gloves and take off for work.  The air is chilly, especially on the hands and feet, and with the shortening daylight, the commute is now done in the gray half-light of dawn.  On my mind also is that this is the time of year when deer become active, and I must be extremely vigilant as I travel.  But while the daylight lasts, the ride is spectacular.  In another three weeks or so, the leaves will start dressing themselves in their Technicolor hues and the mountainsides will become iridescent.  The sky will lose its milky shade and turn a spectacular vivid blue.  The sunlight, freed from summer’s haze, will make all nature’s colors starkly beautiful.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Kawaski VN900LT: My Take

Copyright © 2011 by Ralph Couey
I don’t think there’s a more difficult thing for the American male than to admit a mistake, especially when it comes to the purchase of a particular motorcycle.
I’ve been riding for 18 years and over 200,000 miles.  My passion for riding started with a job some 35 miles from home.  The commute was becoming a real burden, with gas at that time a killer $1.14 per gallon.  My better half had thus far resisted my entreaties with that consummate skill all wives possess.  But by this time, the kids had become old enough that she decided I could risk my neck in the cause of the family budget.
I acquired my first bike, a 1981 Suzuki GS550T, for $500.  It was a sharp-looking standard, cheap enough to buy and maintain while I learned how to ride.  I dropped it a few times, but the only casualties were the turn signal lights, which stuck out from the forks.  A nearby salvage yard managed to keep me supplied with fresh ones.  I rode a lot in all weather conditions (save snow and ice) and that bike taught me a lot.  Over time, I moved up to a 1980 Yamaha XS Eleven Special, then a BMW K75RT, and a Honda PC800 Pacific Coast, with which I enjoyed an enduring 100,000-mile relationship.  However, once I sold the PC, we went into a period of financial trial that forestalled the purchase of a new bike for two agonizing years. 

Finally in the spring of 2009, I bought a 2007 Kawasaki Vulcan 900.  I had that bike for about two months before having my third accident.  I was distracted by a car that had started to pull out of a parking lot across my path and thus didn’t see the guy who had stopped in front of me.  I applied the brakes, which were quite a bit more reactive than what I was used to, and locked up the front wheel.  My lane positioning was completely wrong, riding in the “grease pit” portion of the lane, so the bike snap-rolled to the left and went down hard.  I was saved from a broken leg by the crash bars, but still managed to crack a rib.  With my own elbow.  Fortunately, this happened right in front of a hospital, so I had two doctors by my side in seconds.  I survived.  The bike was totaled.
It took a couple of months for me to heal up.  (A busted rib is a whole new kinda pain, let me tell you.)  But I managed to find a 2006 Vulcan 900LT with fewer miles for a real good price, so I bought it.