When Did She Become a Classic?

My Valkyrie - at an overlook of lake Michigan.

As much as I love my Valk, she is a 2000 model, making her 15 years old.  I know what that is in dog years, but my bike?  She seemed ageless.  Yes, I swapped out batteries a few time, had to swap out the starter for a new one, changed out the breaks, upgraded to new spark plugs a few times, and exchanged air filters and oil filters way more than once.  There have been tire changes, chromey bits added, We've balanced the carbs, scrubbed off gunk, and polished her to a fine shine.  She's mine, but lately she's been showing her age (haven't we all?).

When I look at my Honda Valkyrie, she looks just as bright and shiney as the day I got her in 1999, but like the rest of us, she is getting old. Technically, she is my third personal bike. I started with a little Honda 80, then bumped up to an 1100 Yamaha Virago when I wanted to hit the roads.  As we continued to ride cross-country (me, my dad, and for a while - until he got married and moved away- my brother) it became more important to have a bigger, more highway stable bike.  I loved my Virago - she handled well, and cruised with little problem and not much more than basic maintenance, but going much over 65 MPH caused a lot of vibrations up the wrists and arms, lessening the enjoyment of longer, faster, highway riding.  The Valyk carries her weight low, has a longer rake angle, more engine, and more dry packing space than my Virago ever did.

Lately the backend has had a bit of clunking and felt a little less than pert. (I know how that feels.) I still haven't been able to figure out why I feel it, but my dad doesn't if he takes her out.  She is ready for new plugs and another carburetor balance (there are six of them - so it is a bit amusing).  Despite these minor inconveniences, she is still very low maintenance and pretty much goes without stopping.

The weather has been mostly frozen and then soggy this year, giving very little chance to really get out and ride.  (I'm not kidding every single day off I've had for four months - has rained.)  Outrageous insurance fees paid. Plate paid. Jacket fluffed.  Dust cover removed.  And then there is a little, hinky-looking oil spot that just magically appeared when the cover was removed.  Only 2-3 inches in diameter, looking quite shiny and newish as a new stain on the garage floor (my father doesn't like staining).  This little spot of goo is sitting quite definitively under my left, front fork.  Of course I couldn't believe my perfect lady would leak and leave such a mess, so I touched the bottom of the fork, just to confirm.  Instant sadness.  Gosh, darned Michigan pot holes!

In Michigan we don't just have pot holes, we have gaping street maws that open practically to the center of the earth.  There are some areas around Detroit here that are using them for community farming this year.  I have honestly sheared off a front break on one truck, sheared off the front wheel of my current truck and practically embedded the front forks of my Valk, into my head more than once.  When I say pot hole - I mean, don't leave your anti-grav device at home.  But I digress.

As soon as I took her dust cover off this morning, she practically cheered (and me with her), and then I had to pat her gently, say sweet loving words and let her know I was going to have to leave her home for the day so we would both be safe.  My little moto-heart wanted to cry, and we both felt just a little bit older.  I never thought of her as old.  I've only been coming to the recent realization as my hair has suddenly given up the ghost of color this year, that I am getting older. I read a great Classic Motorcycle magazine online, but how did I suddenly end up with with one?  I've never wanted to bump up to an Aspencade/Gold Wing, they handle and drive differently and I didn't feel "old" enough to have one.  Now I find that my Valk and I are both fast becoming classics.

Me, Penny, 2015
I'm betting the leak is just a simple seal that has more than earned a rest and replacement, and it will give me a chance to spend some quality time with my girl (it can't all be riding bliss - there are some responsibilities). Us refined lady types do prefer a bit more finesse.  We have a lot of history and many miles together.  I'm not ready to trade her in for a newer, flashier model, so  I guess I will try to be gentle with us both.  "Getting older isn't for wimps", as they say.  And perhaps we all need an excuse to sit down and smell the carnauba and oil, and get our hands dirty in helping to make each other shine.

Do you have an older bike?  Do you choose to always stay shiny with the newer models or do you prefer to have a shining relationship with an old friend?

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