Published on April 17th, 2017 | by Al



I went back to get a second X-ray of my broken hand, and looked at the images while in the radiologist’s waiting room. It looked to me like the bone wasn’t healing.

I was concerned that the doctor would want to put it in a cast and I wouldn’t be able to ride my motorcycles. “It’s not healing”, I said to him the next day while he read the radiologist’s report.

“Yes it is”, he said. “It is healing here, and here, but it is slow.” I looked at the report and saw the words “age related degeneration noted”.  I was impressed.

“I have been called a degenerate before”, I told him. “But never by a doctor.”

He said he wanted me to see a hand surgeon for a second opinion. He wrote me a referral, and I saw the surgeon that afternoon.

The hand surgeon was pleased. He said it had more movement than he expected, and I said I thought it was from holding the handlebar on my motorcycle. He said it probably was, and I should ride my motorcycle more.


“You are a handy man to know”, I told him. He smiled without showing his teeth.

He showed me how to tape two fingers together to minimize the chance of re-breaking the metacarpal, and then he said “Any more questions?”

“Yes”, I said. “Would you rather fight a giraffe sized dog, or a hundred dog sized giraffes?”

“A hundred dog sized giraffes”, he said.

I called Ben, and said my doctor had recommended that I ride my motorcycle over the mountains to his place. He said to come up.

I went on the V-Strom, because its riding position puts less pressure on the hands, and also there was some dirt road involved. I stopped for fuel 200km out, at the Raglan service station. A boy of nine or ten wound down the window and watched from the back of a car next to me. He was staring at the bike when I came out after paying. A motorcycle with luggage and a sleeping bag attached has a gypsy look that appeals to children and degenerates.

“Hey kid”, I said. “Would you rather fight a giraffe sized dog, or a hundred dog sized giraffes?”

“A hundred dog sized giraffes”, he said.

It was only 80km to Ben’s from there. I passed a Velocette Venom and what looked like a Matchless G50 with a high pipe coming the other way. Their riders wore fluorescent green vests. “British Racing Green has faded over the years”, I thought.

It was Ben’s birthday. I gave him a bottle of American whisky.  We drank some as we caught up on each other’s news.

I left at midday the next day. There were mountain ranges to be crossed on motorcycles. Doctor’s orders.

I took the back way out of Lithgow, and stopped on the dirt road east of Hartley Vale for a photo. I could feel my bones knitting.

I was home in two hours. “What’s the difference”, I said to the girl-child, “between a tuna, a piano, and an owl?”

She didn’t know.

“You can tune a piano, but you can’t piano a tuna”, I told her.

There was an uncomfortable silence, which lasted maybe ten seconds. She knew that if she asked about the owl I would say “who?” And I knew if I asked her about the owl she would say “who?”

“You didn’t need to come home straight away, Dad”, she said.

About the Author

Al does a bit of everything, and likes hanging around with Boris, because there are generally motorcycles and whiskey, and because hilarity generally ensues. He wastes his spare time not moderating the BIKE ME! forums, where he posts occasionally and is regarded as unfair, unbalanced and unmedicated. Shows how much THEY know.

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