Thanks to Lug Soles

It was a very nice day yesterday — sunny and unusually warm for this time of year at 64°F (18°C). I got out the Harley and went for a ride.

I had plotted a potential route to lead for my club, and wanted to check it out. I am sure glad I did.

A nice back road as it appeared on the map ended at a T-intersection. Turn left at the “T” and continue on another nice back road. Or so it seemed.

Unfortunately, the map has no details as to hills or terrain. It turned out that the intersection was on a steep incline! I later determined that it was a 15° upgrade. The road did not level off at the top of the hill — it just ended. When I stopped at the stop sign at the end of the road and top of the hill, I was pointed to the heavens. Heavens to Mergatroyd! (don’t know what this means? I date myself, but see this explanation).

I have never been adept at handling a manual transmission. For the life of me, I could not manage to get the bike revved enough while letting the clutch out to get the bike going without rolling back or potentially stalling. Heck! I was stuck!

Thank goodness for lug soles. I was wearing my tall brown Wesco harness boots that have a thick Vibram®100R lug sole. They are like snow tires for the feet. I was able to hold my very heavy motorcycle on the hill by the sheer pressure on my boots planted firmly on the pavement (and an assist from my brakes) while I was trying to figure out what to do. I couldn’t maneuver forward, as I couldn’t get the bike going without rolling back, potentially falling over, or stalling. I tried and tried and just couldn’t do it.

Fortunately, few cars came up behind me while I was stuck there, and I was able to signal to them to go around me while I was stuck in this predicament. Then, most fortunately, another biker on a big Harley like mine came up from another direction and asked if I needed help.

“Yep, I’m hillshy. I can’t go forward.”

He realized that I was stuck, and drove past me to the bottom of the hill to block traffic while I slowly backed up, turned around, and went back from the direction from which I came. As I passed him, I gave him a big thank you shout and a thumbs up. He waved. Thank goodness for the good samaritans out there in the biker community. I’m not quite sure what I would have done if he had not stopped to help.

BTW: I am not going on this route to lead a ride! I have learned my lesson.

AZ: This is precisely why I would not take you up on your offer to borrow your manual-transmission car while I visited you in Phoenix. If this happened to me while I was operating your car on the hilly terrain of Arizona, things would have gone to heck in a handbasket quickly, as I could not stick my boot out of your car onto the pavement to hold me while I was trying to rectify the problem. And, my dear AZ, this is precisely why I LIKE lug-soled boots. They saved my butt, big-time! Other than a bruised ego, nothing else happened. I did not drop my Harley as I was slowly backing up and turning on that huge incline. The boots held me and my bike firmly as I was maneuvering.

I am not skilled at using a manual transmission. My inability to use a stick-shift skillfully has a lot to do with being a klutzy, uncoordinated guy. This is why my family gave up trying to teach me how to dance. It’s just not within my skillset to learn how to handle such a situation.

Life is short: wear lug-soled boots when you operate a heavyweight motorcycle!

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