Ralph Higgins

Ralph Higgins
color pencil sketch by Gayle Higgins

Quotes I Like

"If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools."

– Plato


Monday, April 15, 2013

Growls from the Garage

     Spring has sprung here in the mountains.  The air is warm, the sun is shining, and I can smell the pine trees.  I thought about sitting down at the computer and dashing off a blog, but I heard a familiar voice calling me from the garage.  It was my Triumph motorcycle.  After a long winter of inactivity, my hungry bike begged me to feed it some pavement.  How could I resist?

            You have to grow old, but you don’t have to grow up.  I’ve said that before.  I dread the day that I begin to think like an old man, but I certainly don’t ride the same way I did fifty years ago.  I now realize how stupid and careless I was in my youth.  After knowing guys who were killed on motorcycles, I’m much more careful now. 

            When I was younger and “dumber” I had typical bumps, blood, bruises, and the customary cast on my leg, but that was mostly the result of dirt riding and hill climbing.  Close calls on the road, including the German autobahn, where the slow lane is 100 mph, are worse and I was very lucky.  Those reckless days are long gone. 

            Gone too are the days of looking “cool.”  After a certain age, you don’t worry about that stuff.  While riding my ’69 Triumph, a friend said I looked like a circus bear riding a toy bicycle.  What a pathetic image.  I couldn’t do much about the bear thing, so bought a bigger motorcycle.  Now I look like a circus bear riding a slightly larger bicycle.   

            I’ve always been a Triumph guy.  I’ve had several and still have two, including a “duplicate” of the classic 1969 model I bought in Denmark.  One reason I prefer Triumphs is the fact that there aren’t many on the road.  They’re somewhat unique.  I have several friends who read this blog and are Harley guys.  With all due respect, Harley’s are great, but too common and stereotypical for me.  But Triumphs are accepted by the Harley crowd for some reason, where a “rice rocket” may not be.  Back in the fifties Marlon Brando, Steve McQueen, and James Dean all rode Triumphs.  These bikes must have left an impression on me when I was a kid.  

            Yesterday I answered the call of my bike and rode through the beauty of the Sierras.  Forget city or freeway riding - sucking exhaust fumes and fearing for your life isn’t much fun.  Riding through the mountains allows the smell of pine trees, the visual beauty of the terrain, the warm wind, and the total ambience of nature to permeate your being through osmosis.  It’s a pleasantly refreshing catharsis. 

            Don’t get the impression that I sit in a lotus position, breathing incense, and chanting a mantra.  I haven’t been able to sit like that since I was 12 years old.  I just don’t know how else to describe the riding experience, but that’s why I chose a motorcycle for travel through Europe back in the ‘60s.  I wanted to absorb the total environment.  I know that sounds weird, but fellow riders understand.

            There is camaraderie on the road with bikers - the extended hand or wave when passing another rider and the tap on the helmet warning that a highway patrol car is lurking ahead.  It’s all in the game.  I’ll quit riding when I get so old that I need training wheels on my Triumph, but until then, I’ll keep feeding my two-wheel monsters as much road as I have left.  Uh oh…I hear that hungry growl coming from the garage.  Gotta go. 


  1. Great Cob de la Blogisphere...I could almost smell the wind and its symbiotic pollen wafting past my nose as you vicariously piloted your Triumph motorcycle through the Sierra, while tapping out your Blog, sitting in front of your computer like Jobba-the-Hut, in front of the fireplace at your home in the woods. (That's right "Sierra"...there is no such thing as the 'SierraS'...its ONE Range of mountains, singular)! Dennis Richmond from Channel 2 News straightened me out on that one at the gym many years ago, when I could still find my way to a gym without a map and bus fare tied into the corner of my handkerchief along with money for lunch.
    Keep those stories coming! They make my day...


    1. Thanks for correcting me on the "Sierra" mistake. I've always been confused on that. But what's this "Jobba-the-Hut" thing? My musculature may have shifted south a little bit, but if I ever got even close to that frog guy, Jabba, Gayle would take a blow torch, melt me down, and pave our driveway with me.

  2. Ralph, I saw your Triumph in your garage. You are not letting folks know you made it into a trike!!!!

    No training wheels needed!

    I probably can't ride anymore (never owned a bike) but the thought of riding through the mountains on a bike has always fascinated me.

    Some of the bikers I have seen have waved at me a bit differently than you described! Of courser, it was generally when I tried to run them off the road!!! Just playing!

    Blessings, buddy!

    1. Ed - It's guys like you that guys like me have to look out for when riding. Remind me to leave my bike in the garage when you're driving in Plumas County.

      Regarding the "trike" ... you must have seen the bent-up tricycle in the attic that I rode when I was about 4 years old. Gayle thinks I'm nuts for keeping old stuff like that. But I'm still too young for training wheels on my motorcycle.

      Hope all is well with you and Darlene.