Above: Pearl, a couple of weeks ago in Globe, Arizona
The “Happy Hour” ride. My riding partner and I hadn’t done it in its original form for years, but just before Thanksgiving seemed the right time to reinstate it.
Several years ago, we dreamed up this ride. It was meant to escape work, enjoy Friday night, and just ride. At the end of it, we’d usually stop for coffee. But, as with everything, the “HH” ride evolved, or devolved, into only going for coffee, and driving. For a while, Hal and I were just too tired to plan far enough in advance to take the bikes in the morning, and too tired to ride after work (dangerous).
Lately, though, I found I missed HH, and since my decision to keep Pearl after I had thought I’d sell her, I needed a weekly ride again to keep her happy. It had been a stupid decision to sell her. I had her on consignment at my mechanic’s shop, but no one bought her. I shudder when I think how close I came to losing her. It was when Hal got his K75s that I came to my senses. I realized that I would never be able to replace Pearl because BMW does not make the F800ST anymore, and its replacement, the F800GT, is a completely different bike. I sat on one, and it felt absolutely massive, and not what I would be comfortable riding.
My Pearl is a 2008 F800ST, the beautiful blue one. BMW didn’t make that color very long, and it is the prettiest one. It is a small bike, which is why BMW changed everything to make the GT big (for big people, apparently) but BMW couldn’t have made the F800ST more custom fit to me if they’d tried. I bought the bike in October, 2008, and have ridden it just over 70,000 miles.
It was cool and damp last Wednesday evening as I set out, and the traffic was heavy because it was Thanksgiving Eve. I worked my way through it all, out onto Hwy. 87, toward Fountain Hills, where I met up with Hal at the usual fuel station. The temperature wasn’t that cold, around 60° F., but the dampness in the air made it feel colder. I laughed at myself because it wasn’t too many months ago that I was riding while wearing a mesh jacket and a thin t-shirt in Heber where it was 59°. I was perfectly comfortable then, and happy to be out of the 100°+ heat in the desert.
We rode into the dusk, and I felt great, happy to be riding Pearl, who probably despaired of ever seeing Zahra in front of her as she headed up the 87 toward the Sunflower turns. On the way, I was treated to the sight of Four Peak, spectacular in the light.
Hal and I wound our way through holiday traffic as we made our way north, climbing in elevation as we went. The temperature dropped, and an amazing late autumn sunset painted the darkening sky all shades of pink that reflected everywhere and flooded everything with a pink glow. I felt Pearl purring with happiness, back where she belonged. She was happy underneath me, I could feel it, her engine humming a warm throaty contented sound. If ever there was a bike that has a personality, it is Pearl. I think that about my other “F” series bike, my 2009 F650GS, Katarina Maria. They both have the 800 engine (despite the GS being called a “650”), and perhaps that is the heart and soul of them both.
We turned around in Sunflower after sitting for a few moments in the pullout, looking at the pink sky arcing above us. The moment hung in time, the earth seeming to stand still for a moment on its axis. We exhaled, then twisted the throttles, and headed back through the perfect curves on the way down. Soon we were in Fountain Hills, making the turn into the parking lot where there were restaurants, and warmth. It was dark and cold by then, and I couldn’t seem to shake the chill in the air. Hal and I got a coffee and a snack, and settled into the relaxation process after a stressful three days at work. It was a perfect beginning to the long enjoyable Thanksgiving weekend.
“Is that a streetlight or the moon?” P.S. we didn’t go to Subway …