HOW SMOOTH DOES IT RIDE?

It was the summer of 1989.  I had just purchased my brand new 1986 Suzuki Cavalcade LXE that Spring.  It had been part of the unsold inventory Suzuki had sitting in its warehouse.  I was leading my annual tour of the Canadian Rockies National Parks.  It was my first long trip with the new Cavalcade.

Most of the other bikes on the tour were Gold Wings, with a couple of Yamahas and other assorted touring bikes.  Most of these riders knew I’d owned a 1982 Gold Wing for six years before buying the Cavalcade.  On the first day of the tour, there were a lot of questions regarding my new bike.  “Why did I buy a discontinued Suzuki touring bike when I could have had a new ’89 Wing?”  The Wingers insisted that I was going to miss the smooth ride of the Honda 1100cc engine.

That first night of the trip we camped at Lake Christina, British Columbia.  Next morning we brewed coffee in the camp before packing to ride to our breakfast stop, about a 25-minute ride from where we had camped.  I was using a plastic insulated coffee mug, no lid, no wide bottom, just a regular coffee mug.  I drank my first cup as I packed my tent, sleeping bag and everything else into my trailer.  As usual, someone had more gear than they had space and asked me to pack some of their excess in my trailer.  I refilled my mug with hot coffee, set the cup down and went to help load the surplus cargo into my trailer.  I then helped one of the riders get his bike off its center stand, checked the camp for any forgotten items and made sure everyone was ready to ride.

Sometimes it can be a good idea to ride a few miles before breakfast and on this morning it worked well for us to ride to a great little roadside café.  Highway #3 in this part of Eastern BC is a two-lane mountain road with sweeping curves and some dips and hills that are a lot of fun to ride if you press it past the speed limit a kilometer or two.  Feeling frisky with my new bike and 100+hp I took the lead and burned the miles to breakfast a little faster than I normally go when I’m leading a group.  On a short run I figure the slow riders will catch up in the short distance traveled and the fast riders can enjoy burning the carbon out as a change of pace from our normal touring speed.

I pulled into the café parking lot and waited for the group to assemble.  Before anyone went into the restaurant, I called them all over and asked them to circle around my bike.  When the last rider had arrived, I made the following announcement:


“I don’t want to hear any more comments about the lack of a smooth ride on my new Cavalcade. I want you folks all to observe the one thing I forgot to pack when we left camp.”

There, with some steam still curling up into the cool Canadian air, was my insulated coffee mug, holding every drop of coffee, where I had sat it a half-hour earlier on the passenger foot rest of my brand new Cavalcade.

 

Jay Johnson

Last updated:   Wednesday, February 06, 2013

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