I have insomnia at 6am in Barcelona. Not that it really matters, as my plan for the morning involves lying by the rooftop pool at 9am. I guess that is the nice thing about vacations: I can sleep for a few hours knowing I can just go back to bed whenever I want.
The day before departure I needed to replace the tires on my 2009 Ducati Monster 696. At 13234 kms the metal treads were starting to show through, and the front Bridgestone had aging cracks. Unlike a car, tires are a major part of motorcycle safety – if one dies while you are driving, then it is over on a highway. For nostalgic reasons and a love of their trade calendars that feature female nudes done by brilliant photographers. Aahhh, Italians!
The Pirelli Angels should last me another three years, and the $500 they cost with labour reflect less of a cost and more of a milestone: over 13,000 kms is some hardcore riding experience in downtown Toronto through rain, heat and cold. From my ride back in from GP Bikes in Whitby, I would say these tires are exactly what the old monster needed. Still another 40 klicks left before the mould agent is removed, so careful driving is required.
I also had time to replace the front windscreen screws with new red andonized ones. I have these wicked gold spikes, too, but would have needed to do some drilling to make the process possible. The little mods are what makes the bike mine. Speaking of which, my zipper gouged the carbon tank strip finish last week, but with a few minutes of superfine sanding it was as good as new – just need to apply a light brush of clear coat to replace the buffed out spot. Upon my return I plan of pinstriping my wheels with blue tape and am considering how to repair the wear on my low rise seat; given my short inseam I tend to sit in the exact same spot which wears it down. Maybe I will just pick up a new seat; but I might rather order a new set of colored plastic to change the bike into an Italian Blue Monster. Decisions…
In the hours before my flight left Toronto, I had time to enjoy an H. Upmann Limited Edition cigar from Havana that I brought back two year ago. The two boxes I procured have stood the test of time in my Siglo humidor, and that is a big improvement over the Romeo and Julietos I took back from Paris a while back, as the Toronto dry climate turned the last few into dusty smokes.
A cigar is not for everyone. I know the haters will cringe from what cancers they cause and the awful stench, but like many manly activities a cigar smoke requires a time, a place and the proper mood to be enjoyed. I smoke a cigar once a month at most, and it it always with either a fine rum or single malt scotch: neat. Cancer is more likely to hit me from riding in exhaust fumes on a daily basis, so let it be. Like the motorcycle ride, you earn your aficionado status with cigars, scotch and all good things. Amen.
My night walk in Barcelona took me up to the national art gallery steps, a beautiful public area to stroll among the young lovers and old cronies. I will admit it to be a little awkward to be alone, but this time is priceless as I reflect on the year and where the wind will take me in the next.
I love my European nights. While I have never partied here as a young adult, unlike almost all of my peers, I prefer the softer side to the night, the way the architecture is cherished as more than the Canadian steel and glass towers. Stone has a weight to it that never ages with the fashions of modernity.
Time to try sleep again…sun is almost up on another day.