BIKE LIFE

BE­CAUSE EV­ERY MO­TOR­CY­CLE DE­SERVES A PLACE TO STAY

Cycle World - - News - By Peter Jones

Is there a sad­der view than a mo­tor­cy­cle with­out a warm, dry place to spend the night? It’s so sad to see a bike that’s wet, and get­ting wet­ter, or a bike that’s a snow-cov­ered, wa­ter-stained, rust­ing or­phan alone in the street. Such thoughts bring dis­gust to the heart and a tear to the eye.

A pri­mary rule of mo­tor­cy­cling is: Don’t live in a dwelling that doesn’t have a garage. Of course, if you live in New York City, or some such ur­ban hell for mo­tor­cy­cles, you’re screwed, so you’re ex­empted from this, and we’ll all just try to not think about it. But for the rest of us, a garage is a moto-ne­ces­sity. Yet…

I con­fess. I bought a house that doesn’t have a garage. I did that about 12 years ago. I still live in that same, stupid house. But I’ve made amends. Sort of.

Adding to not hav­ing a garage is that I have no place to put one. My prop­erty is nar­row and steep, with a street be­low and a lane above. I have road frontage on the back and front, yet two-wheel ac­cess is im­pos­si­ble due to the prop­erty’s steep slope. Get­ting to my house from above or be­low en­tails two flights of stairs. I’m trapped. My house is an Amer­i­cans with Dis­abil­i­ties Act vi­o­la­tion.

At any pre­vi­ous time in my life, I wouldn’t even look at a place to rent if it didn’t have a garage. In fact, I’ve al­ways been gen­er­ally will­ing to set­tle for liv­ing in a garage, as long as it had a toi­let and elec­tric­ity. Well, okay, elec­tric­ity; I could fake the other part.

Hav­ing no garage has shown me how sur­pris­ingly dif­fi­cult it is to walk a 155-pound 60cc Benelli Hur­ri­cane down a flight of stairs. I mean two flights. It’s parked in my liv­ing room be­cause, well, you know. It’s been there for three years. It’s be­come a bit like Mike Mul­li­gan’s steam shovel.

I pon­dered my plight while “tem­po­rar­ily” stor­ing my bikes in the garages of kind neighbors…for six years. I suf­fered par­a­lyz­ing anx­i­ety. Then, fi­nally, I found in­spi­ra­tion. I didn’t need a “garage.” I just needed some­thing big enough for two or three (or four) mo­tor­cy­cles. And a work­bench. So I built a mo­tor­cy­cle shed. It’s 8 feet by 12 feet. It’s at the back, top­side of the prop­erty. But it’s also nearly 3 feet above street level.

Do I smell gaso­line? Is that a stain on the liv­ing-room car­pet?

To avoid zon­ing is­sues, I built the floor of my shed where the roof of an out­door kitchen was (I said the prop­erty is steep), main­tain­ing an ex­ist­ing foot­print to avoid the nui­sance of a build­ing per­mit. Do­ing this, how­ever, re­quired the shed’s floor to be about 3 feet above street level and only a few feet from the edge of the street. So I had to build a ramp that folds out from the shed into the back lane. I try to re­mem­ber not to leave it ex­tended for fear some­one (my GF) might run into it with a car (she al­ready has).

For six years now I’ve been happy with my so­lu­tion, de­spite the steep ramp, which re­quires mo­tor­cy­cles to be run­ning when walked up into the shed. But, in early spring this year, when I went to wake my hi­ber­nat­ing mo­tor­cy­cles, I dis­cov­ered that my pres­sure-treated ramp had sud­denly ag­gres­sively rot­ted. It was de­void of all struc­tural in­tegrity. My bikes were trapped in­side. I felt an un­pleas­ant kin­ship with that pig who had cho­sen wood be­cause it was more durable than straw.

I re­paired the ramp. Any­body want to buy a house?

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