Fried Clutch

via Daily Prompt: Fry

The normally high pitched snarl of the rented V Star 650 motorcycle escalated suddenly to a raspy scream, signaling an RPM way beyond a healthy range. The dramatic change in pitch shouted to my muscle memory “You’re revving way too fast! Shift up!” Reflexively, my left hand pulled in on the clutch as my toe slipped under the gear shift lever to move to a higher gear. At the exact same moment, my steady climbing movement up the steep hill slowed dramatically, giving my body a competing message. “You’re moving too slow for this gear. You need to downshift!” In the tiny fractions of a second that seemed to persist much longer, both hands and both feet performed an awkward dance trying to use the clutch, gear shift and brakes in the right combination to subdue the inner conflict.

As quickly as the emergency response got started, it vanished in the realization that the only action that mattered right then was holding tightly on the brake lever with my right hand. I didn’t need to shift up or down because I was in no gear at all. The racing engine and lack of movement confirmed the bad news. My clutch was fried. Not the best of moments for that to happen as I was about half way up one of the steepest streets I’d ever been on, a straight stretch of San Francisco’s famed Lombard Street between Polk and Larkin Streets. The only thing keeping me from rolling down the hill backwards was the firm grip on the brake, yet I needed to let up to gradually roll  into a reverse turn so I could head back down the hill forward. Even the light weight of the V Star made it impossible to push up the hill. The trip back down to the flat intersection of Polk and Lombard was an interesting balance of more and less pressure on the brake.

I really didn’t want to be on that part of the Lombard Street, but it was the only way to get to the part I wanted to descend, the one-block, eight-curve, brick-paved section that the street is famous for. I didn’t get to ride it on that trip, but will return some day. I can chuckle about it now, but I was cranky then from the jolt of my fried clutch. I chuckle sometimes too at the thought of my friend who did ride it, but got stuck behind a group of tourists from Korea in a rented land yacht who stopped periodically to take pictures.

What follows is a picture of the curvy part of Lombard Street, and links to google maps for the curvy and straight parts of it. The google items should be interactive so you can move along them up or down. The featured image above is me sitting on the bike as a tow truck driver attaches it to his truck.

Sanfran_61_bg_032605_lombard_street
By The original uploader was Y6y6y6 at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Climbing Blindly: An Opaque 9-Prompt Haiku

via Daily Prompt: Opaque

Last week I tried a Tenacious haiku using the preceding week’s 7 words and no others. I had to wait for 9 prompts to get the 17 syllables this time, but here’s this week’s offering:

Climbing blindly, pleased

Measure timely opaque jolt

Cranky unravel

It would be fun to see other variations if you care to post them in comments. You could even cheat a little by adding a word or two or not adhering to the 5-7-5 model. Ah, come on..you know you want to… 🙂

Iron Mountain Road

via Daily Prompt: Climbing

Iron Mountain Road is a 17 mile stretch of U.S. Highway 16A that winds through a second iphone 1237beautiful section of the Black Hills in South Dakota. But truthfully, to say it winds does not pay due respect to this asphalt work of art. It twists and turns, climbs and falls, squeezes through tunnels, and corkscrews back on itself in a way that forces riders to go slowly enough to appreciate the beauty. The official description includes 314 curves, 14 switchbacks, 3 pigtails, 3 tunnels, 2 splits and 4 presidents. Four presidents? Yep. One end of 16A is near the entrance to Mt. Rushmore National Memorial, and riders are treated to a view of Messrs. Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln off in the distance through the tunnels.

I am there to attend the 75th Annual Sturgis Bike Rally. Bikers who come to the rally come to party or to ride, and as I begin my trek along 16A, I hope that those groups are mutually exclusive.

The first section of mostly gentle curves allows me to nudge the throttle just a bit, only having to rein it in approaching a few sharper ones. But soon, I reach what seems to be a continuous string of pigtails, tunnels and switchbacks. The first of the pigtails appears, seemingly out of nowhere just after leaving a narrow tunnel, and I quickly downshift moments before I’m led around a 360 degree turn and pass under what looks like a wooden bridge supporting the road I’ve just traversed.

The ride overall is a full body, mind and sensory experience. It’s not just the exquisite sensation of my body leaned into the curves, but the absolute, full attention and immersion in the moment, the deep-throated growl of the engine, the vibrations reaching me through the seat and handlebars, the changing smells cruising past different vegetation, and the alternating coolness and warmth on my skin as I pass into and out of shaded areas.

I nod to the presidents as I exit the last of the tunnels but do not stop for a selfie with them. It’s time to get myself on into Keystone for a well-earned cold one now that my ride is finished, and let my body and mind reflect on the wonder of it all. As I park and climb off, I notice a fellow biker wearing an Iron Mountain Road t-shirt that reads simply “What Dragon?” I smile as I remember I’m wearing my Tail of the Dragon shirt with the map on the back. We will have much to talk about.

Seasons of Love

via Daily Prompt: Measure

Most bloggers at this site know the musical Rent, which on the surface tells the tale of struggling artists in New York City, but at a more general, symbolic level is about life, death and love. The song, Seasons of Love asks the question of how to measure a year, in life. It is as deeply moving a song as I know of, and begins with “Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,” the number of minutes in a year and goes on to ask “How do you measure – measure a year? …In daylights, in sunsets, in cups of coffee…how about love? …Measure in love.”

I posted my first blog entry less than two months ago, but WordPress sent me an anniversary message yesterday to remind me that I have actually had the site for a year now. I’ve been on a sort of reflective roll recently with posts on what would you do with only 30 minutes to live, and a haiku about healing the world one heart at a time. In keeping with that flow and in marking my anniversary of sorts, I offer you not my own words but instead Seasons of Love. I hope the link works. You’ll have to supply your own tissues.

A Couple Surprises

via Photo Challenge: Surprise

This was a different sort of surprise. I was experimenting with my iPhone, trying to capture blurred motion of cars at night. These ghostly figures walked past just as I clicked the shot.

walkers_blur

Again with iPhone, now in macro mode. I liked the bits of pollen scattered about the flower and the tiny speck on the the bee’s front left leg.

bee_on_flower

If you’re interested using your iPhone for photography, here’s a great site with lots of tips about using it more creatively.

Another good source is Art with an iPhone, by Kat Sloma that can help you get the most out of your phone.

And here are just some general thoughts about Photography as Creative Expression.

Copyright  © Thomas Ward 2017

 

 

 

Dear Pingback, Please Work

via Daily Prompt: Pleased

A pingbaiku:

alas pingback fail

post has gone missing today

trying now again

Here’s the link to my real post in case you’d like a continuation of A Dark Tunnel from a couple days ago. I hope this one works.

A Dark Tunnel (continued)

via Daily Prompt: Pleased

As the last strains of the Bolero fade from my ears, my thoughts begin to — unRavel 😉 and I’m pleased to take on a new challenge…just kidding…here’s the real post…

A Dark Tunnel continued…

The gentle strength in her grip on my ankle is at once concerning and reassuring. I fear for her safety more than my own, but have learned more than once since our first meeting that she is no damsel in distress. Her resourcefulness and resolve belie the delicate beauty of her soft facial features, and have kept us a half step ahead of danger repeatedly.

The darkness forces my thoughts inward, nothing else to concentrate on as our slog through the damp endlessness of the tunnel goes on. My thoughts return to that fateful evening. “Pleased to meet you,” she had said with an accent that reached deep into a primal part of me, summoning me inside her mind. “Enchanté,” I returned in my dreadful Texas drawl, cringing inside but hoping it didn’t show on the outside. She had passed by my outstretched hand to touch my shoulder, leaning forward to lightly kiss each cheek in turn, me trying to mirror the moves, not having grown up with this delightful custom. As we pulled back and smiled into each other’s eyes, I remember the phrase “follow you to the ends of the Earth” passing through my jumbled mind, thoughts raveling and unraveling as the moment persisted. Laughing now to myself. I didn’t think that would include literally traveling under the Earth together.

The wine had flowed along with the conversation as we sat outside Les Deux Magots café, sharing the warm Paris evening with our mutual friend Alex who had arranged our meeting. All was going well until she looked beyond my shoulder, eyes widening in alarm. “Come with me. Now” adding “Please” as an afterthought, hand clutching my wrist not unlike the way she now holds my ankle in the darkness. We stand and dart down the street, with her in the lead, leaving Alex at the table, confusion crossing his features…

To be continued when more prompts arrive….

Copyright  © Thomas Ward 2017