TITLE: Let's Go For a Ride
TIMELINE: Season 5.
DISCLAIMER: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc of the TV show JAG are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author of this fic. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
WARNING: I'm not a Harley flunky. I would also like to make it clear I'm not making any of the comparisons up. I had a cruiser for 4 years and can confirm everything is as I wrote it. I've always had spine problems and let me tell you, cruisers are torture devices! Worse than Iron Maiden (the torture rack, not the band). After I switched over to sportbikes did I only realize you can actually enjoy in riding without your back and head hurting like hell and without feeling every single unevenness in the road. And you can actually turn the thing around on a single-lane road without in less than 10 minutes. :D
Trevor, here's one for you, man! hope you like the subject. :)
SUMMARY: Friendship is not something that only happens to other people. Sometimes, it just sneaks up on the most unsuspecting victims. And whacks them over the head with a club.
Probably the most detailed introduction into the life of a law-abiding biker most non-bikers on this site will ever get. And it even has a plot! Well, sort of... :D
It was a bright, sunny and warm Spring day as LT Loren Singer, only recent transfer to JAG HQ, strolled through the car park of her new work place, enjoying the beautiful weather, but dreading the second she'd get into her small car. Being among the junior officers in the military complex she had to fight the other masses for free parking space of the barren lot, while senior officers had their own assigned spaces, placed in the cool shade of lime trees. There was no telling just how hot and stiffling her car's interior would be. Sometimes she regretted not having gone for the convertible instead of a coupe.
It was in the privileged section that something caught her eyes.
Curious at the peculiar anomaly among trucks, SUVs and sedans, she changed course and slowly approached the thing standing out like a sore thumb.
Tilting her head she considered the vehicle parked in front of her. It'd been a long time since she'd last been on the back of a motorcycle and that one had definitely not looked anything like this.
Her boyfriend had been a Harley fan and despised anything that wasn't so overly-decorated with chrome that could barely move under the power of it's own malnourished engine. He'd especially hated modern motorcycles, calling them crotch rockets, crotch-rots, plastic-fantastics, idiots, squids, etc.
To this day Loren still privately suspected he was compensating for his own defficiencies by getting that monstrosity of a bike. Especially when she remembered how many times they got stuck somewhere or had problems turning it around because of it's ridiculous size and weight and the handling and maneuverability that even an 18-wheeler could beat.
The vehicle she was admiring was the exact opposite. It was shorter, no chrome in sight (which probably made cleaning a LOT easier and faster as opposed to 6+ hours on Tom's penis-enlargment tool), instead of steel there was aluminium and plastic. It weighed probably at least half that of a regular Hog.
The sleek, slightly aggressive lines attracted her gaze and she could feel her breathing quicken. As if it had a mind of it's own, her hand drifted over and gently followed her eyes as they flowed over the tail fairing, then the banana seat, gas-tank, levers, windshield, headlight and then back.
"THIS kind of touching could easily be construed as sexual harrassement if not sexual assault." suddenly said a voice behind Loren, startling her almost out of her skin.
Whirling around she choked on her breath. She hadn't been totally oblivious to CDR Rabb since she'd entered the sanctum of non-saints, but the man standing before her was something far removed from the one in unflattering Navy uniforms.
In whatever shock borne of admiration she might've been in, she recovered swiftly at the sight of the mischevious smirk on his lips and the twinkling in his eyes.
"Sorry, sir. I didn't mean to touch." she stuttered, to her consternation apologizing. However much she might've been affected by the leather-clad figure and the smile that was turning her knees into water, she sternly reminded herself that she had a reputation to uphold, a reputation she'd worked hard for.
"No problem." Harm shrugged it off with a smile "I knew you didn't have any ill intentions. Compared to the stories I've heard of what passers-by do to parked motorcycles, it didn't even register. I was just giving you a hard time."
Curiosity, the best ally of an investigator and the worst enemy of a cat, rose in Loren and compelled her to inquire, making her forget her decision to don back on her cold facade "Stories? Like what?"
Harm grimaced as he unlocked the bike's top case "Oh, like using the seats to snuff-out cigarettes or tie their shoes, putting their kids on parked bikes as if they owned them or letting them touch the hot exhaust cans then suing the bike owner for leaving the bike there, pouring drinks or smearing food on the bikes, keying them, damaging them in other ways, like kicking in fairings or breaking off the rear-view mirrors... some even push the bikes over out of pure envy or irrational hate. You get all sorts. I haven't had a problem since I have a garage where it spends most of it's time under lock and key, the JAG lot has armed guards and when I go somewhere I always keep an eye on it."
"And you wanted to courts-martial me for sexual harrassement..." she remarked, crossing her arms over her chest and pouting.
The CDR's raised eyebrow and surprised expression made the comprimisation of her reputation well worth it
"Actually no." then he smirked devilishly "I was actually about to organize a shotgun wedding if it continued."
The unimpressed look she shot him made him chuckle.
"What is it?"
Harm looked at her oddly, then slowly answered, unsure whether she pulling one on him "It's a motorcycle."
"I know that!" she groused "What KIND of a motorcycle is it?"
Harm's eyes lightened with understanding "Oh. Ah, it's a sport-touring bike."
"I thought it was one of those plastic-fantastic crotch-rockets." Loren looked confused.
Harm sighed, by now used to it "Nah, it's not a sportbike, though it might look that way to a layman. While both types have full fairings, sport-touring bikes are made for traveling, usually two up. They're also much easier to install luggage onto them. They're also better for guys with damaged spines that had to punch out one too many times." he smiled self-deprecatingly.
"Aren't Harleys best for traveling?"
Harm snorted "Yeah, right to the first bar."
Seeing her look of incomprehension he explained "Their ergonomics are completely wrong, not to mention the designs of their frames, their obsolete suspension - it hasn't been changed since the 1950's... On most Harleys the body position is completely wrong for any longer traveling... some have rider's feet and arms flung far forward, forcing the body into an unnatural C shape, doing horrors to the rider's back; while the most that don't have such an aggressive position, they still have foot-pegs too far in front, which results in the rider's spine being perpendicular to the road. The result is that you feel every pot-hole, every bit of uneven surface because it sends a sharp pain directly up your spine into your brain and back again. Then throw the brutal vibrations of the big twins into the mix, especially noticeable in the handle-bars which make your arms and shoulders suffer... and the noise from the 'mandatory' open cans that's powerful enough to give you a headache and make your brain vibrate in your skull... Then there are also the "ape-hangers", the very high handlebars that are just torture on your shoulders, but are very loved among the Harley crowd because they think it makes them look cool."
"And that's not the case with these bikes?" she inquired, now understanding why Tom used to have back- and head-aches after rides.
"The position is surprisingly comfortable once you get used to it. Your legs are bent directly beneath your six so they act like shock absorbers, absorbing most of the bumps, preventing them from sending up that pain I mentioned, and since you're bent slightly forward instead of straight up, the spine isn't forcefully compressed everytime you hit a bump. The inline-4 engine operates much more smoothly than a V2, with very little vibration, so it's easier on the arms and body in general. You can actually put a full coffee cup on the seat and it won't spill over, much less fall off. And that's not a figure of speech, but a proven fact. You don't want to try that with a cruiser. It's also much quieter, so better on the hearing and friendlier to the environment and people nearby."
"Don't your wrists suffer? From here it looks like you're leaning your entire upper body weight on them..."
"Not if you do it correctly. The trick is to keep your body in position using your core... chest, abdominal and thigh muscles. If you're leaning on your wrists then you're doing it wrong. There's also minimal wind-buffeting because of the aerodynamics of the bike and the windshield. Both, especially the aerodynamics, don't exist in cruiser rider vocabulary."
"You don't seem to have a high opinion of cruisers..." Loren tried cautiously, wondering whether she had finally found a personality flaw in the adored Commander Rabb, but careful not to offend a superior officer. Not when she was just finding out that maybe he was human after all.
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