Now is as good a time as any to talk about motorcycle maintenance. After 15 months on the road, I have had enough opportunity to get my hands greasy in order to keep my 42 year old Goldwing complaint-free. If there is one thing I have been learning on this journey, it is that there is not much we can control in life. However, stepping onto a motorcycle with the knowledge that at least I have done everything I can to ensure a safe ride, gives me a certain peace of mind further down the road. Most often, when there is work to be done on the motorcycle, it is out of necessity. Occasionally I will spontaneously look over the whole bike and carry out a little preventative maintenance, but on the whole, I don’t like to get my hands dirty if I don’t have too.

The first changes I made to my set-up where more practical than anything else. I was in Normandy, France during the month of November, and I decided I needed to do something about the cold hands and feet. It is a natural gift of mine: Once a problem has been detected, I start seeing possible solutions all around me. Some can be very creative. The first step in ‘winterising’ the bike involved old water bottles and duct tape. The second step involved repurposing the lid of a trash can. Both have turned out to be very effective. And there was a bonus result: As I fashioned the ‘new’ accessories, I thought about how silly they would look. I could see the smirks I might get from other motorcycle enthusiasts. But…staying warm while riding seemingly trumped any fear of laughter. Now, months later? I don’t even think about it. In fact, I am a little bit proud of my self-fashioned motorcycle fairing.

My latest little modification was also a practical solution. I needed more room in my trailer and the spare trailer tire was one of the objects which, if it had a lace to hang, could easily ride on the outside of the trailer. But where to hang a spare tire. My preference was to mount it on the underside of the trailer so it would be out of site, but upon closer investigation, I saw that this would decrease road clearance which could be hazardous on a more uneven terrain. After scavenging some metal and lumber, I created a mount just a the front of the trailer, above the hitch. The advantage of this spot was that the tire would be easily accessible.

Some motorcycle maintenance is less about comfort, and more about safety. This was the case when I decided to rebuild my back shock absorbers. The parts had already been purchased, but I was missing the ‘special tool’ to dismantle the shocks. Well, at my last Workaway host, I had found something which I though could be fashioned into a such a tool. Now, further south, I was staying with a host who had lots of tools and a big workshop. So with a bit of determination (and some warm clothes) I once again made use of the tools I had, created the ones I didn’t have, and got the job done.

And got more peace of mind.