A Collection of Articles from the Archives of

Harry G. Pellegrin

Novelist and Musician


Read on, my man!

Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx





Wild Horses

A few things just hit me.  Believe it or not, I had a great revelation when someone played the Stones on the Juke Box.  Wild Horses was playing and it caused a massive flashback to the days of my youth.  (Yes, I am that old. 37, if you must know.)

Picture this.  Its mid September, 1974.  The place, the FDR Drive in Manhattan.  Its a Friday night, its hot, and I’m sitting in my VW beetle in rush hour traffic, trying to leave Manhattan and get home.

Whew, that really dates me!   Anyway, the Stones are on the radio (AM) and its, you guessed it, Wild Horses playing.   As I’m sitting there, my pistons swelling in that old air cooled lump, I’m sweating gobs, I hear the most gawdawmighty sound -- like nothing from this planet -- rushing in from behind me. 

Suddenly, a  massive machine rushes past my window  --  the rider was splitting lanes --- on a Kawasaki Z-1.  This monster was outfitted with some aftermarket exhaust.  It shrieked!   I’d  never seen one of these beasts before.  It was an eye-opener!

I couldn’t get over the way the rider’s feet were placed slightly rearward from the norm.  The handlebars were flat and low, hunching the rider forward.  The rear wheel was humongous (by '74 standards) and... it was a woman rider in control.  Here she was astride the behemoth from Hell.    I could see her quite clearly.  She was very attractive. (I miss open-face helmets.)  I marveled at her abilities to keep this snarling monster doing her bidding.

I was in love.  With the bike as well as the woman.  To see her calmly piloting this seething cauldron of unimaginable power!  Words escaped me then.  They still do now.    Back to 1994.

As the Stones played on, I got to thinking about riders and machines.  A year or so ago, my brother-in-law took my Kaw for a spin around the block.  He’s 6’ 5” tall and tops 200 lbs.  He makes the bike look like a moped.  I, on the other hand, look right at home on it.  This got me off on another tangent.  We’re all different.  Wow, big revelation.  But wait, this gets better.  I started thinking about insurance companies and their perception of us.

If I were a 350 lb. dude and bought a 250 Nighthawk, besides being out of my mind, I’d also be overtaxing a totally anemic machine.  Conversely, if I were 90 lbs. and bought a ZZR-1100 (that’s a ZX-11 to you colonials) I’d be pushing the envelope as well!  One size does not fit all although insurance companies would like to think so.

Motorcycles are less like automobiles and more like clothing.  In an ideal world, insurance companies would look at an individual’s weight and stature as well as the machine’s.  That is not to say that normal or smaller persons shouldn’t ride bigger machines.  Its just that bigger people need bigger machines.

It is ludicrous to think that 350 lb. Joe should be out and about on a Honda CB 125.  Yet the insurance companies would charge him probably about forty bucks a year for basic coverage.  Let’s say Joe goes out and purchases a Honda Magna 750.  That bike could at least pull him along.  The insurance company would probably hit him for at least  $250 for basic (just liability.)

Which bike would you rather have Joe taking down a nice long hill?   Do you think the CB’s wimpy little brakes could stop twice its gross maximum weight before they melted?  Which machine would be a safer, saner choice for Joe? 

The insurance companies  wouldn’t  think so.   They’ve just discriminated against an overweight person.  He has to pay more for his insurance because he can’t possibly use a smaller displacement machine. 

The reverse scenario is not true.  A smaller person (within reason -- you didn’t see any Harley dealerships in Oz, did you?)  can have the intelligence and skill to pilot a large machine.  Remember that woman on the Z-1?   For the normal and smaller persons, a sliding scale for displacement and skill (lack of accidents and tickets) could still be implemented.

Do you think this is impossible?  Probably.  The insurance companies would never think up a way of making their prices fairer.  Or would they?  Right now we all enjoy discounts for Motorcycle Safety Foundation training.  We get a break if we have anti-theft devices.  Ditto for clean records.

O.K., is it possible?  Still, probably not!  If things were made fairer for overweight riders, then one could accuse the insurance companies of discriminating against us thinner folk!  People do get so sensitive!

The agents would have to do something more than just write a policy and take the money.  They might have to actually look at you.  They might make eye contact!  God forbid, they might have guilt pains and have to go into another profession!  So until then, three hundred fifty pound Joe with twenty years experience and a clean  record, MSF certificate, et al, will have to pay more to insure his Magna than Dick Squid with his learner’s permit, pointy license and TW200 will.

Nice and fair, what?

So, Wild Horses ended on the juke box and my twenty year time warp started to narrow, wind down and fade to black.  Through the haze of my memory I heard that Kaw moaning through its four into one pipe and saw the southern end of a north-bound early superbike with its petite rider, hindquarters pushed to the rear as she leaned forward to the bars.

I had one last beer for the night and toasted the memory from a summer a long time ago when a girl (who could be now approaching fifty) zipped by and removed my heart with a bit of countersteer and a flick of her wrist.

Harry G. Pellegrin


LOW END is Published by Bedside Books, an imprint of American Book Publishing.

ISBN 1-58982-074-6

LOW ENDCopyright 2003 Harry G. Pellegrin

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