A Tale of Two Blinkers… one broken

Ice floes sail down the Penobscot River alongside Route 2 in Costigan. (PHOTO BY DAVID M. FITZPATRICK)


Murphy’s Law is one mean-spirited bitch.

The weather was excellent for March 11—which, in Maine, means 50 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny—and a great day to ride. Or fire up the grill for a cold spring cookout, but riding is more fun. Most motorcyclists I know put their bikes up for the winter in heated facilities or friends’ garages, or they park them away from the snowplow zone and cover them with PVC tarps.

Not this dumb Irishman. I ride year round. As long as the roads are clear and I can safely get off my dead-end street, I’m on two wheels. When Jack Frost is threatening to dump the white stuff on us, I tuck that ride in my walk-in basement. If there’s extended period of bad weather, I can always go down to the basement and admire, wish, hope… and, sure, talk to it a bit. We all have our eccentricities.

The problem is where I live. First, you turn off Route 15 in Brewer and go up a hill, then immediately turn right and go up an even steeper hill, and then drive all the way to the dead end, where you turn left and go up my driveway. The street hills face north, so they get almost no sun in the winter, so even if every other road in town is completely clear, it can be impossible to get off my street on a motorcycle without a peg and a handlebar dragging on the ground.

The first time I ever road, I dumped my bike. This was before I was smart enough to take the Basic Rider Course offered by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, but that’s another story. The result was that the left-rear blinker casing was cracked all to heck, and I never got around replacing it. This was partly because it’s $50 for that silly piece of plastic, partly because the blinker still worked fine, and partly because it served as a reminder to me about the importance of safe riding. Okay, and partly because I’m a lazy procrastinator. Really—I planned to write this article two weeks ago. I blame season four of House of Cards. But that’s what lazy procrastinators do.

So the sun was out, the mercury had hit 50, and the hills were clear save for some challenging sand dunes left over from Brewer Public Works throughout the winter. I decided to do a casual photoessay with my smartphone—glamour shots of my bike parked with various river shots in the background, complete with ice floes. Fun idea! I was going to hit the car wash first and hose some of the mud from recent rides off, but glamour shots to me aren’t about the bike looking like it was polished in a showroom. It’s just about my ride with a nice backdrop. Let the mud remain.

I headed out Route 9 into Eddington and took Route 178 to Milford. I had a goal in mind. A few miles north on Route 2 out of Milford, probably in Costigan, there’s a spot for a bit where the road rides along the banks of the Penobscot River—as in you could jump off your moving motorcycle and land in the river. I don’t recommend doing that. So I found a nice spot and stood in the middle of the road in a busy 50-mph zone to get good shots of the bike with the ice floes. No, I’m not all that smart, but I move out of the way pretty quickly for an old guy.

I hit Old Town, Bangor, and Brewer, with some shots of the bike parked by the Stillwater and Penobscot Rivers, all with ice in the background. I would have rushed home to write this fun photoessay, but I had to meet my wife for dinner. We enjoyed pizza at Tesoro in downtown Bangor, and then she followed me home.

As soon as we were there, she said, “Do you know that you’re missing the orange plastic cover on your left-rear blinker?”

Well, of course I was. And guess what I found when I reviewed the photos? The very first photo I took in Costigan showed my blinker to be missing its cover—the only way Murphy’s Law would have it! Every single one of the many shots I took that day that featured the back of the bike and the glaringly obvious missing orange blinker cover. Well, glaringly obvious in retrospect; clearly, it didn’t seem obvious when I shot all those photos.

So now my procrastination and miserliness had teamed up with my inattention and stupidity to completely ruin my photoessay! Or not; I say, Murphy’s Law can suck my motorcycle’s tailpipe. At least I can get some humor out of this, because, as you can see, here the photos are.

I set out a week later to buy a new blinker. But when I was reminded that that silly plastic thing cost $50, I used strong and colorful language, jumped on the bike, and rerode my route from my house to Costigan in hopes of finding the plastic. I didn’t, but it was a great excuse for another great ride. So I stopped at Friend & Friend in Orono to buy one, but the line at the parts counter was ridiculous, so I asked the service guys if they happened to have one in their box of used blinkers and lights. Sure enough, they did: fixed at no charge. The casing still looks like crap, but it’s a little less ghetto now.

I’d like to say that I then immediately ordered a replacement blinker assembly, but… well, the parts counter was so busy, and I was impatient, and it was a nice day, and I had a bike with a fresh blinker cover…

Now worries. I’ll do it soon enough. You know, like after the next time I lose the orange plastic cover and can’t get a free replacement.

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