Thinning The Herd

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When you haven’t got time anymore, it’s time to let some of them go.last sherpa 1

So – with lots of sadness – I recently sold one of my five bikes. The dual sport Kaw I’ve written about here on several occasions. The bike did not deserve this. Indeed, it deserved better. Which is exactly why I put the ad up. I divorced fantasy from reality. I loved the idea of trail riding, but how much did I actually ride – on trails or otherwise?

Almost never.

Not anymore.

The bike would often sit for weeks on end before guilt finally prompted me to at least start it up and let it run for 15 minutes or so. Maybe roll it around the garage some to try to keep the tires from flat-spotting. I was not unfaithful to it; no other dirt bike had taken its place. I just finally realized that time and other pressures had put the kibosh on my ability to do much more than keep the battery charged, fresh oil in the engine and fuel stabilizer in the tank.

If this pattern holds for more than two years, then you know what to do – or ought to.

Keeping a bike you can’t ride is kind of like hanging onto a woman you no longer have time to sleep with. Or aren’t interested in sleeping with. What’s the point? For you and her (or it, as the case may be). Do you both a favor – and let ’em go.

So, I let the Kaw go.last sherpa 2

It went quickly, too. Within a day of putting the ad up, I had multiple people e-mailing me to come take a look. The first guy who got in touch ended up taking the little Sherpa home. That last ride – from my garage out to the field where there’s a little hill just the right height for a pick-up truck to back up to, so you can drop the tailgate and roll a bike onto the bed – was painful. Selling a bike you like always hurts, even when you know it’s the proper thing for all concerned. I knew I’d never hear that bike’s particular sound again. Images of the trails I’d never ride again, like family slides of childhood long gone, flickered and faded. This was it. The proverbial Green Mile. The thought came to me that all the the little changes I’d made over the years to make the bike mine were about to become matters of indifference, perhaps even annoyance, to the new owner – like old fixtures in a house you just bought.022

I hadn’t felt these feelings since the last time I gave up another old friend, my ’64 Corvair Monza. That was 12 years ago. But I remember that last drive around the parking lot like it happened yesterday. Handing the keys to the new owner. Signing over the title. Watching him drive it away.

It still hurts.

Once again, all I’ve got now is some money in hand – and memories. I’m not sure which is the more valuable.

What I know for sure is that while I can buy other things with the Sherpa money, I’ll never be able to buy more of the the good times I might have had on that bike.

Those belong to someone else now.

Life goes on.

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42 COMMENTS

  1. Hard Time 200 – bike made by Nevada prisoners
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    The Shank – bike made by Nevada prisoners
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  2. There, there, Eric.

    Even though I’m a big sentimentalist, I’ve learned that it’s usually better in every way to “let it go”- especially with large/big-ticket items! IMHO, life is more enjoyable being a minimalist; having more time to enjoy the basics or just do nothing, rather than being a slave to a bunch of things that require maintenance; storage space; washing; and which depreciate as they sit there being admired by us, but not used much.

    When it comes to vehicles/ATVs/things like that, I usually find a sense of relief after I’ve sold them. The only thing in recent history I regret selling, is my first Chinese ATV- that thing was SWEET, and nothing after it matched it- but it was impractical, as there was no way to mount a trailer hitch, nor to put a decent-sized rack on it.
    \
    I’ve recently pared-down the “collection” myself- Got rid of the ATV; the scooter; the semi-classic economy car…. Yeah, I had good memories with ’em…but ya know what? I still have those memories- the only things I’ve lost are depreciating things which took up some of my precious time, cluttering-up the place.

    Probably the worst thing about selling something for me, is knowing that whatever I sell is usually in damn-near perfect shape, and that I could never find one 2nd-hand in the same condition, much less for the reasonable price for which I have to end up selling mine for….but still- I almost never have a regret after getting rid of something- especially if I’ve gotten a reasonable price for it- I had it; I used it; it sits under a tarp 99.5% of the time, and I spend more time futzing with it than actually using it…I’d rather unclutter my life!

    I don’t want to be one of those people who ends up attaching memories to metal. You know, the guy whose most expensive possession is some shrine to Detroit, from the 50’s or 60’s, which sits in the garage, but is too valuable and too perfect to actually use and enjoy- so it’s only function is to be polished every few months; and to trailer to car shows now and then, to be fawned-over by oglers, as the owner sits in a lawn chair by it…..

    What those people don’t realize is that the memories they associate with a certain kind of vehicle, have little to do with the actual vehicle- but more to do with their own thoughts about what they were doing; the times in which they were doing it; etc. Having a replica (or even the actual) vehicle will not of itself generate similar events of which memories are made; and one can still have the old memories, with or without the vehicle…so really, what is the point of having the vehicle, unless it is something you actually use on a near daily basis?

    I can go to a car show any time I want, and see all the classic cars I want; or just day-dream about the past, when I’d see those cars actually being used for the purpose for which they were built…no need to have some $50K shrine in my shed, which will never be making any new memories, because it is too special and valuable. But I find that I do have some new memories with my current modern-era vehicles….and it has nothing to do with the vehicles- It doesn’t matter if I’m driving my 15 year-old F250, or if I were driving a ’67 Tempest/Lemans (which I’ve always wanted)…it’s what I’m doing and who I’m doing it with; or my thoughts at the time, which make the memory…not the vehicle I’m driving.

  3. Anyway, my intention to post here was to ask, “eric, Why the heck didn’t you have a raffle”?!!

    Tickets at twenty bucks (or even Ten) X 80,000, plus or minus 40,000? WHoa!

    Got Damn, you like giving away money or sumthin’?

    ..It’s prolly illegal, eh? Or, too risky?.. Or, only 100 people would show up?
    …Wait a minute, 100 x 20 = $2,000
    …How much did you get for the bike? …If you don’t mind my asking?
    Don’t answer. …And, don’t even think what 40,000 X 10 Bucks is.

    …Just, when you get to the KL…. Ah-hem.

    • Dammit.

      That would have been a smart thing to do. A cool thing to do. I wish I had thought of doing it. That’s what happens when you’re running on empty, most of the time…

    • Heh…glad that Eric didn’t have a raffle (of course it;s illegal….what isn’t?) I would have bought a ticket, and might have won her! (I’ve always “wanted” a dual-sport….but really, what difference does it make whether it sits in my shed or Eric’s?) -I’m sure it sold for quite a bit more than $2K though…at least I hope it did!

  4. eric, I just thought of something I meant to relay 10 days ago. I saw a guy at least 5 or 10 years older than me with a ’67 Corvair, something I wanted and almost bought and should have as a second car(it was cherry at the time)on a car trailer. It was blue/green and looked to be really straight and in decent shape. I’d like to see it next year. A few years ago I used to see a guy my age driving a ’65 Corvair sedangreen) between Midland and Odessa. It was original and seemed to run just fine.
    I was just looking at the El Co today in the barn. I really need to sell it. It’s just not in the cards for me now. I might fix it up if it wasn’t a two seater……………oh hell, who am I kidding?

    • Oh yeah!

      My ’64 was a sweetheart. It ran reliably and unlike many old VeeDubs I’ve owned, it was not slow… especially on top. The ‘Vair could maintain 70 comfortably. The Beetle not so much. It also had excellent heat. Nearly instantaneous and hot (if you wanted hot). The interior was wonderfully roomy, too. Loved the flat floor, the low-back seats.

      I miss it a lot.

  5. I would rank the distress caused from the sale of my 61 Austin-Healey 3000 and 72 Triumph Bonneville a distant second to the sorrow associated with losing pets due to infirmities and old age. Wouldn’t it be great to be born into this world with the means of Jay Leno?

    • Ditto, Marc.

      We lost two four-pawed friends this year and I still grieve for my Black Lab, who has been gone since ’09. It’s one of nature’s cruelties that our animal friends live such brief lives.

      • Lost my 16 year-old pit mix last February- my bestest friend, ever. I would have given everything I own to have had just a few more years with her. I’ve loved all of my dogs…but I’ve never known the love, loyalty and emotion that I had with Precious (Kudos to whoever named her at the shelter from whence I got her- it was an appropriate name for her- and quite funny for an 80 lb. pit mix!)- I don’t think I’ll ever love anyone or anything as much as I loved that dog!

  6. Typing of thinning the herd…I have in excess of 12 guitars. However, I now have osteoarthritis in my hands. Most notably my thumb joints. This makes playing my guitars very painful after just a few minutes. So, I’ve been seriously thinking of doing the above.

    Problem is finding left hand guitar players that place some value on well maintained equipment.

    Also, I’m not getting rid of all of them. There are a few it will take prying from my cold dead hands like my firearms….

    David Ward
    Memphis, Tennessee

    • I’m going through a similar situation with growing arthritis. I’ve had to move from manual transmission to automatic. For years I’ve always had a number of older vehicles around to wrench on but lately have been selling some off since I just can’t keep up with normal maintenance and repairs any more. Sometimes after doing a lot of work my right hand will turn into a painful claw that I can’t even open up!

      I’m also starting to realize as the arthritis gets worse that I can’t really do heavy work any more (such as pulling engines and transmissions) and will have to start farming stuff like that out, so I’ll probably be down to just a couple or few vehicles soon enough.

      Getting old sucks but the alternative is worse!

      • eric, you’re gonna put that next sale off a long time. Like Jason I had many things I need to sell, and one pickup just needs the spare tranny I have installed, a new battery and the fuel tanks cleaned but arthur speaks to me with more force every day. I carry a tube of Willow Bay or something like that in the truck. Rub it into both hands, see my grandparents as I do so since it’ smells like all those old remedies they used, pull on my driving gloves to hold it in as well as holding the heat in and away we go.

        And guitars? Damned if they ain’t hard to fret now. Once my fingers go stiff I have to stop and use some pookey of some sort and take an Aleve or two and drink some WT and branch water. So they took that opium/cocaine concoction off the market to help us?, really?…..clover I hope you die of arthritis. Got some carbon off a small engine exhaust in my eye a couple weeks ago. On the road and it’s eating me up. What I’d have given for some of that old eyewash for “welding eyes”. Now that stuff worked.

      • You guys, from what I’ve read, arthritis might be due to a parasite. Especially if it spreads thought your body.

        Imho, focus on killing it.

        …But what do I know? I’m just an armature who reads a lot.

      • Jason, that sucks.

        I’ve known others this has happened to, and it’s bleak. Like a break-up.

        I have heard that coffee drinking in quantity helps. Also – and I recommend this for other reasons – you might try going “paleo” (more protein) and cutting way back on carbs, especially wheat. There is a very interesting book – Wheat Belly – that I recommend. It’s written by a doctor but he seems sensible and backs up his claims with a lot of hard data. The gist of it is that modern, GE wheat triggers an inflammatory response in the body, leading to a variety of problems ranging from weight gain to … arthritis.

        I can’t speak to the arthritis stuff as I am not afflicted but I can tell you that when I switched over to paleo and stopped (mostly) eating pasta, bread and so on I easily (without doing anything else and continuing to eat large meals and also plenty of chocolate and sugary coffee) dropped 30 pounds.

        • I’ll have to look a closer look at nutritional issues. Bread can be so damned good though! At least it sounds like chocolate is actually a good thing (have read that in many places), so that’s some consolation!

          Although diagnosed with arthritis quite some time ago, it’s only the last year or two it’s gotten really bad. I do take a glucosomine, chondroiton, and MSM compound which has helped my knees a lot but not my hands.

          In fact I have a car that’s been up on stands in the garage for a while now waiting for me to drop the transmission to fix leaky seals. It’s a big, heavy cast-iron monster behind a V8 engine, unlike the relatively lightweight aluminum jobs on newer cars. I’ve had to finally realize that it’s not really feasible to do that job myself at this point, in the spring I’m going to have to bolt the rear axle back up (it’s a torque-tube model) and take it to a friend who has a commercial repair shop to deal with it.

          • I insisted on my wife and I going Paleo 15 months ago. I’m fairly sure she filched at work. She works with women exclusively and many or Hispanic but they all think burritos are the only thing to eat for the most part. When I got back on the road I was SOL for Paleo. I’d try to take stuff with me but that’s really hard unless the only thing you’re going to eat all day is some “organic nuts” and that doesn’t do much for my veggie cravings. I have recently gained over 5 pounds so I know I’m not headed the right direction. I fairly much gave up regular beer and switched to black lagers for the most part. It seems to help but I need some for the road which isn’t pc or legal.

            My wife has been buying bread and making sandwiches from deli meats. OTOH I’ll make a sandwich from beer butt chicken or roast beef but it’s not really Paleo w/o more veggies than I can manage on the road. It’s a conundrum to say the least.

            • 8man, you can do a lot better than that! Stop at Supermarkets instead of truck stops and restaurants- you can get some already-prepared salads; or the ingredients to make your own (even if you don’t use it all, and have to throw half of it away- it’s still cheaper than eating at a truck stop or restaurant); You can buy bananas and other fruits; whole-wheat pitas (I LOVE peanut butter & “jelly”[Polaner’s All-fruit] and banana on WW pitas! Mmmm!)….all kinds of stuff like that, that you can just buy and eat, or keep with you in the truck…even if it’s not exactly what you want…it’s better than restaurant fare….

              • Moleman, the funny part is I detest truck stops. I almost never fuel anywhere except company fuel stops, a diesel trailer or some other pump out in the middle of nowhere. Unless, it’s a dire emergency, I have the people who fix tires on the road for that.

                I take almost everything I eat with me. For the most part it’s fairly healthy with the exception of dark rye(don’t eat light breads) sandwiches. It’s rare I got by a restaurant with any place to park nearby and for the most part, I despise most restaurants as well. I still don’t have the veggies I like and it’s a big hassle to carry a cooler constantly. I’d probably be skinny if I gave up black lager. Probably be broke too since that and Aleve are the mainstay of my pain relief. Ahhh, that Rahr and Sons Ugly Pug is good….and so is that Lobo negro…..and the Shiner Bohemian Black lager……and the nitro milk stout…..and the Ms. Magnolia Sweet Potato cream stout…..and the Young’s double chocolate stout. That reminds me, I have some WT in the freezer screaming to be let out. See, that’s my “health” food, nuttin but WT and branch water.

                Seriously, if I ate what most people eat on the road I don’t think I’d be alive. I often carry fresh, unsalted nuts and try to avoid eating very much of them.

                One thing I won’t eat is anything with sugar(except for alcoholic drinks) or peanut butter(very fattening) or bananas(very fattening). I have been known to get a head of broccoli and a jar of Ranch dressing and count it as a meal. I have been known to fart profusely hours after that too. Now that cold weather is here, I will sometimes take some home-made salad.

                I’d agree just about anything(except fast food or convenience store food)is healthier than restaurant food. Nowdays truckstops may not necessariy have their own restaurant but they have plenty fast food places inside to poison yourself. Seems like the last time I was in one was back in the spring with a blown tire.

                • Sounds like you do pretty good, 8Man. I know what a hassle it can be, trying to eat good on the road, from when I’d take my trips from NY to scout-out places in the sticks to move to. Fast-food & restaurants aren’t even an option, in my book. I’d carry a little immersion heater with me, for berling water; and once, even a hot-plate, to use in motels! I’ll never forget the joy of finding a supermarket (ironically, 10 miles from where I now live) which sold nice fresh, simple salads in little plastic containers…and for around $2 !! Or I’
                  d pick up something like a can of progresso vegetarian lentil soup (Add a little olive erl, garlic, oregano, and pepper. and it’s tolerable).
                  It kills me: All these restaurants and fast-food jernts on every corner…but it’s impossible to find anything to eat! (And the damn Taco Bells would tempt me…love Meh-heekin food…in fact, I’m making tacos tonight!)
                  You find bananas fattening? Just proves how we’re all different. There’s a diet cult out there, who practically live on bananas…they’re as skinny as twigs. Bananas are the one thing I’ll eat in unlimited quantity…but then I’m the guy who can eat a lot of pasta and not get fat….but super-lean organically hand-raised grass-fed meat’ll make me blow up!

                  • Moleman, sucks don’t it? Back in the spring when my leg was in a bad way, we were on a job a couple hundred miles from home and most of my truckin had to do with rock hauling. First day and a guy with another firm we’d contracted sorta laid down a gauntlet for me so I took an old KW and bested him with his new Pete every single day. The guy won’t even speak to me to this day but he was the one with the problem so screw him. Even the people he works with said he treated them shabbily. Anyway, I’d eat a small burrito most of the time in the dark of morn and nothing the rest of the day except water. I’d be in so much pain I’d just drink after 12-14 hrs of balls to the wall hauling. I lost weight but that’s not the way to do it.

                    My leg is close to as well as it’s gonna be and I have finally kicked the staph infection I succumbed to after the wreck. A specialist recently gave me a week’s worth of prednisone to reduce the inflammation in my spine which it did. I couldn’t stop eating though so I put on 5 pounds.

                    When I bought my first rig at 23, I’d often go a day or two without eating. I’d carry home made food sometimes and get food from grocery stores at other times. This was before food was a bad thing, when beef was prime, no steroids or meds in any kinds of meat, a very healthy time compared to now.

                    I had a problem with blood sugar in my twenties and this GP put me on a diet fairly much like Paleo. I lost weight like I was dying but was in good shape and felt good. Problem was, no beer. Somehow, with no real pain racking my body I didn’t mind so much but now, it’s all different.

                    I could really use a nuclear wave in my truck but it’s a day cab so no room and probably an alternator that wouldn’t handle it and no inverter.

                    You’d like this. A couple days last week I took some tortilla soup with me and that’s hard to beat. It was thoroughly cooked but everything in it had been fresh veggies before cooking. I’m also a mexican food lover although mainly I’m just a really spicy food lover no matter what the source. Tacos sound good right now. Last night it was sausage made from homegrown goats with taters, garlic, onions, jalos and a couple of homegrown eggs. That’s hard to beat and not bad for you since the sausage has virtually no fat in it(but damn, is it ever tasty).

                    I sometimes carry and apple or pear and always have my lemon water in the morning. At least I won’t get scurvy…..just curvy.

                    We used to produce our own beef and still do for pork so we don’t eat a lot of CAFO stuff. I’ll buy a calf in the spring and we’ll go back to eating beef that at least isn’t full of crap.

            • For while on the road, last I heard, Panera Bread has a hidden menu you have to ask about which is all Paleo. If you have those down that way.

        • Eric,

          I can attest to losing weight on a high protein, low carb, low calorie diet.
          I lost about 70+ lbs on the ideal protein diet. It was nice to fit in 36″ jeans. I gained some of the weight back, but I plan to go back on to get where I want to go.

          Besides the weight loss, is the need to change eating habits. (Otherwise I’ll will just gain the weight loss right back.) For me it is not easy (I like sweets and the other high carb foods, but with time I should be able to retrain my preferences) but with effort I will be able to stay at a healthier (for me) weight and hopefully avoid weight related medical issues. Fortunately I chose my grandparents well and I am relatively healthy (excepting the excess weight).

    • Hi David,

      One option – especially with regard to cool old classic bikes – is to keep them inside the house as static displays. They can be kept this way without suffering deterioration much longer and one still has the enjoyment of seeing them, a museum in the living room. Just drain the tank/carbs and coat them internally with a protectant (repeat every so often). Drain and fill the crankcase with fresh synthetic oil and rotate the works once in a while. Wax the paint, wipe everything down. Then make some coffee or grab a beer and just… admire.

  7. Eric-

    I shed crocodile tears over having to give up my 2003 Jaguar S-type. The difference it was a daily driver which put a big smile on my face every day until I had to replace suspension parts and potentially an AC compressor and window regulator. It wasn’t the cost of maintenance for me, it was the frequency. It was too much for a daily driver. Two and a half years later, I still miss the effortless 100 mph plus cruising capability, the handling, the speed and the quiet ride that the Jag delivered.

    My Subaru Legacy at least rides relatively quietly and is marginally more reliable, but I really miss the Jag.

    • swamprat, that sounds painful. A Jag with all the noise of a bank vault, the ride of pure ease and low end torque you notice but without the drama. At least you “had” it for a long time. I’d had to go to Buick or Caddy or something after that. I noticed some of the GM vehicles recently advertised four sets of door seals. With thick glass and lots of insulation, that couldn’t be all bad. I now realize I fantasize much less about that radical SBC running straight off the headers and banging hard on that old rock crusher. No way I could justify the costs, esp for the brief time I could tolerate it. I’ll just have to stick with drifting a big rig and not even that as long as I have this short wheel-based POS I’m herding. To paraphrase Woody in Zombieland “I want my KW back!!!”

  8. So, I won’t see you out on the muddy trails while I’m riding my Suzuki DR650? Shame. Nothing better in my world at present. I tried out one of these Sherpas a few years ago. A flat out blast of a bike. My condolences.

  9. Eric,

    I think your tale, while a little bittersweet for you is good for others to hear.

    You have something that you like and appreciate. Unfortunately, you are unable to get the full enjoyment/use (regardless of the reason) from that item.

    You did the right thing. Selling your MC (in this case) to another individual who hopefully will have more time to appreciate/use the MC.

    I should do a similar action. I have many books and other things that I have not used in many years. It would be good for me to sell/give the items to others that can make better use of them. I will get some cash (or not) and more significant for me is that I will remove items that clutter my house.

    Often I will save items that are worth saving, but when the time of need arrives I have difficulty in finding ( if I find them) the items.

    • Mith, ain’t that the truth! I used to save “everything”, ’cause it might come in handy one day….but when that day came, I could never find what it was I had saved! 😀

      And books! Other than the Bible and few reference books, I’ll never read a book after I’ve already read it….so why keep ’em? I have some books that I’ve had for 30 years and never touched again!

      I can’t be bothered selling little $5 & $10 items…..so I’ve learned to burn ’em/give ’em away or stick ’em all in a big box or two and sell the whole lot for $25 to someone who wants to do yard sales or futz with Ebay listings for such stuff.

      My modus operandi now, is to go through my spare room every year or so, and everything that I haven’t used in the last year, gets tossed (except for tools and things like that). A few items with sentimental value I’ll keep (Like the stuffed-animal tiger my mother gave me when I was 3)- but everything else, if it just sits there taking up space..it goes (If it’s worth a few bucks, then maybe I’ll sell it)

      I find that doing so also makes me buy less- as I think before purchasing “Will I be using this a year from now, or will I be tossing it out?”- and of course, the answer is usually the latter- so I don’t buy it.

      I love it! In a world where everyone seems to want “things” more and more, as usual, I’m going the opposite way……

  10. Eric,

    I can clearly identify with your pain. I had a 67 Firebird a few years back. I loved that car. It ran and looked okay to drive, but needed some attention to be excellent. At the time I didn’t have the money or time to do with it what I wanted. After a couple of years of telling myself–basically assuaging guilt–that I was going to work on it, I finally leveled with myself and sold it.

    Luckily I sold it to an uncle who is well financed and has time. He did some of his own work and paid for paint and interior work. It is now a beautiful car. It gets driven often and treated well. Luckily, I can admire it from a distance and I did drive it once. The tough part is that my attachment comes back when I see it. Selling to family can be a double edged sword, so to speak.

      • eric, this unusually cold spring I used to meet a very young man early every morning, and eventually met him in person, not just on the road. He had a new Ural and wore an old OD green military jacket with matching cap and goggles. He looked happy as a clam. When I finally saw him in town one day we had a long talk about the bike. He had his doubts about buying it and although it has no OD and stays revved up on the road he loves it. He’ll have some great memories of that bike some day. He allowed as to how he liked it more all the time.

        • I dig the Ural, too. But – damn! – they’re expensive!

          This is the first time I’ve been without a dirt bike or dual sport. Feels… weird. But until I can sort things out, time and money-wise, there’s just no point to holding on.

          I will, however, not sell my antique bikes as that’s too personal and losing them would be much too painful. I’ll live with them in my van down by the river, if need be!

          • He said he actually liked the sidecar and being young and single, I could see how that could be a good thing. It takes the snuggle factor out but I guess it doesn’t have to.

  11. You still have us though. The stalwart vanguard who’ve pledged their hard earned value and sacred honor to your noble arboreal redoubt. And us raving cyber loonies. Us too. Happy trails D.S. Sherpa.

    John Coffey’s life is ended by Capitolist Clovers. This is the typical last Green Mile of one’s walk down the Road to Serfdom. John has the strength of character to man up and take the rap, gives those Clovers their Kantian closure. The men who matter know what he really did. The Noble Lie adds yet another twist and lives to be told yet another day. John gets to be at peace. Everybody gets what they say they want.

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