Mid-Life Cycle

Apr 10, 2010 by Carbon McCoy

What’s up, Los Angeles? Having a good time? I am. And I’ll tell you why. I lost my job. Okay, okay, that’s not why I’ve been having a good time. In fact, I’ve been unemployed for three months now – no, that’s not why I’ve been having a good time either. In fact, the last three months have been torture as I clamber to keep my life afloat. So I did what any mid-life crisis sufferer would do: I sold my car and bought a fast motorcycle.

My whole life I’ve wanted a sports car. ‘Porsche’ was one of the first words I learned how to spell (I later learned that ‘Ferrari’ is easier to spell and there’s no discrepancy about the number of syllables). But getting laid off isn’t exactly in line with my goal for saving up and buying a fast red convertible, and the last time I got a haircut, there was an alarming amount of salt in my pepper. So I’m not waiting any longer!

But since I can’t afford a sports car right now, I opted for the next best thing: a new fast and sleek motorcycle.

After a month of ownership, I’m here to convert the rest of you.

Because while you sorry saps have been forfeiting your hard-earned money to facilitate the enlargement of the government teat from which I’ve been suckling, I’ve been racking up the two-wheeled miles as I rid myself of the nine-to-five blues.

So let’s look at the pros and cons of riding a motorcycle in Los Angeles.

The first one is a no-brainer: traffic. California is one of the few states in which it’s perfectly legal to ride a motorcycle in between lanes. So when you’re sitting in traffic, and some guy on a motorcycle splits the lane and rides right past you and the guy next to you, don’t get mad or think he’s cheating – he’s well within the letter of the law. Odds are, even if he takes the scenic route the rest of the way, he’ll get home way before you.

If you’re easily swayed by the ‘look at me’ factor, then driving a fancy sports car – even in L.A. traffic – is very appealing. Driving a Ferrari or Lamborghini in traffic is like priapism; even after an hour, you can still amuse yourself with all of the "Hey! Look at me!" attention. But after a few hours, it’s just painful. But with a motorcycle, traffic just doesn’t exist.

The downside to riding a motorcycle when there are other cars and trucks on the road is that you’re lacking a few of the safety features seen on most cars and trucks. Like doors, bumpers, air bags, things like that.

On a motorcycle, you become the protective features. Your legs are the fenders, and your helmet is the air bag and the dashboard and everything else. But if you have the stones to hang around here after the 7.2 that just hit Mexicali, then you can muster up the chutzpa required to straddle a motorcycle and throttle through the city.

Next, is the fuel consumption and expense savings.

Last year, on a trip up to northern California, I got 500 miles out of a single tank of gas in my Suburban.

Of course, that single tank of 87 octane cost me $100. Now, with my bike, I’m splurging on the good stuff – nothing but high octane for my baby – and I’ve never spent more than $11 to fill the tank. I can get 100-150 miles out of a single tank of gas. You do the math.

So maybe I can’t get as far on a single tank of gas on my motorcycle as I could in my gas-guzzling Chevy.

But the freedom that I have in between gas stops is liberating. Riding a motorcycle gives you an all-access pass to the HOV lane. But when you’re on a bike, you don’t have to wait for that stupid dotted line before you can jump into the diamond lane – you can cross over however many double yellows they decide to paint, and it’s perfectly legal. How cool is that? After a week of motorcycle ownership, your daily commute will be your favorite part of the day.

Another advantage of owning a motorcycle is that it weighs roughly 1/10th of the average SUV that’s barreling down the freeway.

To be sure every econobox available today has more horsepower than a motorcycle, but nothing on four wheels this side of half a million dollars can go from 0-60 in three seconds. Opening the throttle has never been so joyous! Got a tailgater on your ass? Just open the throttle! Stoplight just turned yellow? Open the throttle! Red and blue lights in your rear view? Just open the throttle! Okay, I was just kidding about the last part. You should always stop for the police (they might be willing to share their donuts!).

One thing I do miss is music. I can no longer blare Maroon 5 lyrics from the safety of my Bose-endowed SUV, singing out of tune ’til my heart’s content. But the carbureted rumble, interpreted through the Micron exhaust note, will suffice until I get headphones in my helmet. But what I’m lacking in air conditioned karaoke, I’m more than making up for in weight loss. That’s right, weight loss. I’ve dropped 10 pounds since I bought my bike. Just the fact that I can no longer drown my metabolism in Dr Pepper has loosened my jeans. But the sheer terror of being broadsided by some inattentive texting soccer mom has kept my heart rate at a constant 150 bpm.

Sure my motorcycle doesn’t say ‘Ferrari’ on the back. But it accelerates like one, and I can blast through turns as quickly as I want by leaning the bike over as far as my sphincter will allow. And it’s loud! It doesn’t sound like a rumbling V12, but it’s loud enough to irritate my neighbors, which is exactly the kind of attention-getting message I need to send during my mid-life crisis.

Lastly – and this is the most important part – chicks dig motorcycles. You don’t even have to ride one to turn the heads of the fairer sex. Just holding my helmet in a coffee shop has turned me from fat and ugly to rugged and manly.

Sure I whisper now, when I order my double mocha non-fat no-whip frappacino latte so that I can preserve my testosterone-laden air of mystery. But the inherent and inexplicable mixture of danger and fun that goes with a motorcycle is a bona fide aphrodisiac. I don’t even comb my hair anymore! The asymmetrical mess that stands on my head is totally excusable when my helmet is in view. My unshaven face just adds to the look! I used to be invisible to women, and now I’m a sexy amalgamation of blue jeans, messy salt and pepper, and life on the edge.

So there you have it! Owning a motorcycle in L.A. is the way to go. The pros clearly outweigh the cons. But whatever you do, don’t quit your job. I have a lot of dates this month, so I’m trying to get more money out of unemployment – and I can’t do that without your tax dollars. (Just joking, don’t rail in the comment section below except to shout out your love of speed!)

I like all things fast—fast cars, fast motorcycles, and of course, fast women.

Currently, Carbon authors The Berlinetta Letter, a monthly online Ferrari newsletter for BerlinettaMotorcars.com.

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One Response to “Mid-Life Cycle”

  1. Alan Johnstone says:

    Interesting view point Carbon, the aphrodisiac aspect of danger is like young girls who hang out with dangerous guys in High School. Hope it works out for you and be safe on the road.


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