Friday, September 4, 2009

Girls' weekend

June 8, 2009 - Monday

Our plans with south Tirol didn't pan out, but I spent the weekend away from home anyway, enjoying my first "girls' weekend," finally watching the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and narrowly escaping being swept off the road by a VW Golf. It happened like this:
I took Friday afternoon off from work as planned, even though I didn't need to meet anybody or go anywhere. I had a headache from sitting inside while the sun was shining to cheerily outside, work was slow and I had more than enough overtime to compensate. I went home for lunch and then drove into the City to pick up my reading chair. (It's cool to walk into my room and see it sitting there so elegantly in front of the window. I'm quite proud of it. Now I just need to make us of it for a couple hours. Maybe tonight.)
After that I had a couple hours before heading down to Basel for the monthly United dinner. It was supposed to rain that evening, so I'd be taking the car, and Susanne had invited me to sleep over at her place, an invitation I was quite happy to accept. Dinners with the guys rarely end before 2300 hours, and it's an hour's drive from Basel to Zürich.
I packed a couple essentials, got sidetracked on the internet with a bit of research on maritime zoology, took Retta out a couple times and with such puttering around passed the two hours.
The dinner took place in a smaller circle that usual, with Roger, Fabian, Susanne, Remo and Octavian attending. The latter two left somewhat earlier, intending to hit the night life, and Roger, who'd been rather taciturn until then, returned to normal and conversation became lively.
When we left the restaurant after 11 p.m., it was raining lightly. Susanne spontaneously decided we'd be more comfortable going back to her apartment in Cham, since it was supposed to rain all weekend. I didn't mind, and after she picked up some necessaries from her Basel lodgings, we hit the highway for central Switzerland, window wipers keeping a full speed rythm with the country music on my MP3 player.
We reached her place around one in the morning, changed into nightgowns, settled back on her huge cream-colored couch with water and red wine and chatted about everything and nothing until three o'clock. No matter that Susanne's over twice my age; I thoroughly enjoyed it and so did she.
I slept on the couch, and when I finally woke up the next morning around nine, it was pouring cats and dogs outside. I got dressed and settled back with my book on Japanese culture, and when Susanne woke up we prepared to make a comfortable girls' day of it.
We started off with the Rocky Horror Picture Show, which I'd never seen before but knew some of the music to, and then procured breakfast at the gas station across the street. Following that, we planned what we wanted to cook for dinner and decided on a gratin with bacon-wrappen chicken breasts and a fresh vegetable, and trotted out to purchase those items from a nearby farm, the same farm where Susanne keeps Sammy, her beautiful 13-year-old bay Arabian gelding. Of course, we visited him and his stablemates as well, and then returned to the apartment where I peeled the green asparagus while she sliced the potatoes, and then kicked back on the couch with a bowl of chips for a second movie, Harold and Maude.
Discussion of that section of film history afterwards breached topics I'd never had reason to discuss before, topics I wouldn't discuss much anyway even if I did have reason because they're only usable amongst females. Who needs peers for that sort of chatter? I found it much more edifying talking with someone of Susanne's savoir.
Seeing that we'd made rather more than we could eat ourselves, Susanne suggested we invite one of her friends over. I consented, and Walty brought two bottles of red wine and several conversation topics with him when he arrived.
He's a BMW GS driver, but Susanne says he drives a very clean line. We agreed to go driving together some evening, since his house stretch is the Sattelegg and he knows a lot of byways in those mountains that I don't.
Susanne can keep a conversation going interminately, so it was 11 p.m. again before I felt so sleepy I just had to suggest bed. Walty decided to drive home after all, so I got the couch again.
We expected Sunday to be as gray and rainy as Saturday had been, but it dawned with brilliant sunshine. Roger posted up a suggestion in the United forum for a drive; Susanne and I packed up and drove to my house where I slipped into my leathers and traded the Bonnie for the Beastie. Then we took off, driving backroads to get down to Basel and meet Roger and Fabian at the Rheinfelden customs.
When we got there, it was raining. Roger decided we should try the Black Forest anyway and maybe reach an area that wasn't wet, but that didn't work out so we recrossed into sunny Switzerland and took to the Jura mountains, where Roger led the way.
The Jura isn't like the Black Forest; you can't take curves with 140 km/h. Several times we ended up on gravel; you constantly had to watch for rocks in the road and you get shaken through quite well on the rough pavement. When we stopped on the Passwang for our second drink break, it almost sounded like Roger was coming to the end of his tour. Then he mentioned the Balmbarg, a pass that's supposedly a real nuisance to drive, and I mentioned it was only three o'clock, so couldn't we do that one too?
It didn't take much convincing.
When we left the restaurant, Fabian and I traded bikes. His Speed Triple took some getting used to. It's not a long bike either, but there's 13 cm difference between his wheel base and the Beastie's, and I noticed it. My sitting position on the Speedy is stretched; after riding the Triumph I realized that I sit on the Beastie almost as if it's an enduro; move the foot pegs forward five inches and I'd be sitting as straight as in a church pew. The Triumph's also got a veritable gantry up front - compared to the Buell, where you see nothing but the tip of the flyscreen in front of you - which took some getting used to. The 47 extra horses are noticeable, though with a power ratio of 1:0.8 instead of 1:1 the difference doesn't make for much more aggressive driving. A Speedy can be driven with very lax gearchanging, and if there's one thing I'd like to transfer to the Buell it would be the strong engine brake. Still, after driving up and down the Balmberg and the Weissenstein pass, I gave the Speedy back to Fabian with compliments and returned to my good little Beastie, where I could once again lay into the curves, knew just where to change gears for maximum strength, and sat upright (which makes for confidence. It's much easier to drive sitting up; the closer your face is to the ground, the scarier curves are. Which explains why most racing bikes are the slowest machines on the road).
Fabian enjoyed the Buell though, too. It was funny to watch him dance all over the road with it, testing its short wheelbase. He said the seat was just a bit to short for him; without the raised streetfighter back or the seat cover it probably would have fit him better.
Well, after Weissenstein, Roger decided to go even deeper into the Jura and take us over the Grenchnerberg. Since switching bikes Fabian and I had been the last two and Susanne took my usual position in the second slot.
We were heading up the Grenchnerberg at a comfortable pace since it contained multiple hairpin turns. I was third, and rounded a sharp right-hand curve. I heard a crash and saw a black Golf 2 spin around, squeal and slide to a stop across the road, its back less than two meters from my and the Beastie.
I'd automatically let go of the gas when I saw the careening car; when it stopped I killed the engine. Fabian behind me did the same and hopped off his bike. Susanne and her Monster were lying in the undergrowth on the right side of the road.
She was moving, so I drove the Beastie around the Golf and parked it higher up on the side of the road. Fabian followed suit.
The Golf had been driven by two young men. Roger said they'd already been in a drift around curve. He'd taken his Rocket all the way off the pavement to avoid them; Susanne had been quite fast enough and they caught her in the leg, knocking her and her bike into the weeds.
The Monster was a total wreck. The gear adjuster, sozius foot peg assembly and left exchaust were ripped off; the flyscreen twisted, compost caked along the right side and a dent in the tank. It was leaking gas, and the back of the frame was pressed in.
Susanne came away with an injured leg. We found out afterward that her fibula was broken, but she doesn't need an operation and will recover without complications.
The Golf lost its radiator grill.
The two young men drove Susanne down to the hospital in Moutiers, and Fabian called the TCS on my cell phone and worked his way through their various stations, explaining our position mutliple times until he finally got a garagist on the line who said he'd come pick us up.
All three of us stayed there, waiting nearly two hours until six p.m. before the recovery truck finally rolled down the road.
It was Stef's 16th birthday, and I'd thought I'd make it home in time for the party at the Chinese restaurant. We were all three of us hungry, having eaten barely anything all day. Fabian was right when he pointed out that the Germans were much more efficient in situations like this.
Once Susanne's Monster was on its way to a garage, we continued on our route. I stayed with Roger and Fabian until Solothurn, when they headed off toward Basel and I took to the overland roads back home.
I got to talk with Susanne this morning and she's doing all right. It'll take a while to heal up, but she's an optimist and looks forward to getting back on a motorcycle. Since Fabian let her drive his Speedy she said that might be her next bike...
All I can say is, my guardian angel has it pretty rough sometimes.

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