Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Tale of Katie B......

Back from Hiatus!

With fall approaching, I needed a little break organize my inventory (more on that next time)  and think about this post, one I had been meaning to write but kept putting off.  The reason for my hesitation was that this is a personal story, the most personal one I will ever share here.  

I probably wrote it in my mind a hundred different ways, but kept hesitating to log in and type it out;  I woke up today remembering that the only way to write, is to do just that.  Write, talk, record, whichever.  

This is the story of my Triumph Scrambler, how she became mine and the reason she will never be sold.

At the start of 2007, I had been away from bikes for six years.  Away, but they were never far from my mind;  I was still reeling from the regrettable decision to sell my '69 Triumph Daytona in order to finish the work on my 1971 MGB.  The bike looked amazing but ran poorly (my fault, issues that I could have corrected if this were the here and now) I saw it go from box of parts to running machine.  It was a dream realized and one that I should never have surrendered.  The MGB was fun and it was to me a different dream, so perhaps I thought I was trading up at the time. 

A scant two months after crating the Triumph up and sending it overseas (Norway) The MGB was hit by a truck and taken off the road.  I was crestfallen.  No Bike, no car and no money to replace either one with.  The next few years were eaten up mostly by a stormy relationship which ended rather poorly, once again leaving my pockets empty. After packing up my worldly possessions into my Rabbit convertible,  I set off on the road to recovery.

2006 was tumultuous, though not as bad as what was to come.  My mother had a brain aneurysm which left her permanently disabled and confined to a nursing home;  My father and my sister were sharing the family home and I moved closer to spend more time with them.   Our family was relatively small, most of our relatives were in Britain and those that were here we had little contact with anymore.

 My sister and I were very close, best friends really.  We spent much time together, she couldn't drive so I took her across the border, to Toronto for concerts and to shop.  We shared the same taste in music for the most part and had a very similar sense of humour. We also shared a longing to be in England, though for her that longing ran much deeper.

 After Christmas that year, I decided it was time to get back on two wheels.  Life was short and I felt time slipping through my hands.  I had let my licence lapse and had to start from scratch again (thanks to the ridiculous graduated system we have in Ontario)  This time I would take the course and start with a new bike, something cheap to insure with low payments.

After the nonsense of trying to get my hands on a then new CBR 125, I ended up with a new 250 Rebel that had been sitting in a warehouse unwanted for a couple years.  Back on the road again, things were looking up and feeling right.  The summer was moving along well and despite the small capacity, the little Honda proved to be a great bike to ride around on.

In late August, I went over to the family home to get my sister up for work.  I called up to her room and there was no reply;  typical, as she was never an early riser like me.  I made us some coffee and went to knock on her door.  She was lying on the floor, still, not breathing.  She was gone.  I called 911, but I knew she was gone.   She was 29 years old.

I don't feel the need to elaborate on her personal history, or the details of what happened.  I will tell you what was important.  She was a beautiful girl with a big heart who was well loved by a great number of people.  Though she claimed that she wanted to be left alone much of the time, she would go out of her way to deliver unsuspecting and thoughtful gifts to others.   My father and I were devastated by the loss and I spent as much time at the house as I could over the next few years.  We both did our best to move forward with things and in time things became better.  I was recruited to work in a different industry and I jumped at the chance for change.  My father kept working full time and I rode as much as possible.

Towards the end of 2008 I was walking by the window of the Triumph/Honda dealer where I bought my Rebel.  I scarcely went in as I knew I couldn't afford what was on the showroom floor.  I stuck to quick peeks inside and carrying on my path.  On this particular day, there was a beautiful green and silver Scrambler that I had never seen inside before.  It was taken by this beautiful machine, it stood out from the pack with lovely upswept side pipes and blacked out engine.  It was a perfect combination of power and grace with a truly timeless style.  That day I stood just that little bit longer and walked on.

Somewhere around Valentine's day of 2009, I was at the post office across the road from the dealer and found myself drawn inside.

By some miracle, she was still sitting there, looking as beautiful as Kate Beckinsale.  (Google image that name and you will understand.)

This time, the price had dropped some since my last visit.  Still outside of my range, I mentioned it casually to my father in conversation.  Spring lazily rolled around and I got back on the road.  Somewhere along the way I managed to lose the bar end weight from the Honda's bars.

  This of course required a visit to the dealership.  To my astonishment, that gorgeous machine was still sitting there, with even more money taken off.

The salesman who sold me my rebel saw me looking at her (again).  'She's been waiting for you.'  He said casually.

I left with my bar end weight, thinking that it would probably be the last time I ever saw her.

Over dinner at the pub with my father, I mentioned the Triumph and how someone was going to get a tremendous deal.  To my astonishment he offered to buy it on the condition that I paid him back of course.  I was floored.  Feeling guilty about such a large outlay of cash, I told him I would think about it.

 I drove to the States the next day to pick up some stuff I bought on Ebay,  My best friend tagged along and over the course of the day I decided to sell the Rebel, sacrifice any extra spending for the next year and get 'Katie'  Home.  

My second to last day on the Honda.  Pulled up at 6:00am on my way to work to check on Katie.

It was one of the best days of my life.  Pulling out of the dealership on a brand new Triumph.  It was raining, but that didn't dampen my spirits.  It was the first of many glorious days I have spent aboard this wonderful machine, that has become part of the family.   One of the first things I did on the bike was add a K&N air filter,  I noticed a small sticker on the inside indicating December 9th, 2007.  I thought it odd, as that would have been my sister's 30th birthday.  After further research and contacting Triumph themselves it turned out that Katie was indeed completed on that date.

I felt a warmth come over me in that moment and knew, somehow that this was a gift from my late sister, a sign that she was happy wherever she went, that her spirit had gone on to peace.  It is the greatest gift I have ever received and I treat each day of living and each ride with that gratitude.

Ailsa, thank you.  You are forever loved and never, ever forgotten.

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