BECAUSE EVERY MOTORCYCLE DESERVES A PLACE TO STAY
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?