Friday, January 20, 2012
Beloved wife had finally decided that I needed a Nespresso machine for my birthday when it occurred to me that such a device would be so much scrap metal if I couldn’t find a local source of coffee capsules. It further occurred to me that I actually rather enjoy the ritual of grinding my own beans before firing up a moka pot. So despite Doha’s emporium of the Designer and Expensive, Blue Salon carrying Nespresso, I declared that I didn’t want one.
That was August. Beloved Wife says she still owes me a birthday present.
I came up with the brilliant idea of getting some motorcycle leathers. My old ones would now not fit me, even if they were available and not missing presumed stolen. Leather biking gear is extremely rare in Qatar, even in off-the-peg sizes. Personally I need to be sure that any leathers I own will actually fit my unorthodox body shape. When I put on a one-piece suit, it usually appears to have been designed to fit Igor: “Have you finished the stitching?” “Yeth, marthter!”
There are many more motorcycles in the USA than in Qatar. Surely during the Christmas visit I can find a shop selling a selection of leathers and try them on? Surely they’ll be realistically sized for the middle-aged biker.
And this is what we tried to do on our new year road trip. The signs looked promising. Huge roadside signs, in fact, promising motorcycle hypermarkets not one mile from the next exit on the interstate. So we turned off and, indeed, found huge motorcycle hypermarkets full of huge motorcycles and plenty of leather and chrome.
If I’d wanted a jacket with fringed sleeves, a black leather waistcoat, fingerless gloves, or some chaps I would have been very much in Hog heaven. But I want racing or touring leathers, preferably two-piece, zip-together with body armour, and perforated for warm weather. Not Coming In South Carolina, sir. And Not Coming In Georgia or Florida either, as we were soon to discover.
The sales assistant suggested that we might have better luck in the famously petrolhead town of Daytona Beach, so that’s where we headed next. Indeed, the town was full of motorcycles and shops selling riding apparel. Again, waistcoats and chaps. I protested about the preponderance of assless chaps until someone pointed out to me that all chaps are, by definition, assless. Or ‘arseless’ in British English. The idea of someone wanting racing leathers was entirely alien to everybody in Daytona Beach except one. The woman in the BMW shop knew what I wanted, but had none in stock.
Elsewhere on our trip we dropped into various random motorbike shops. I’ve learned that it was a total waste of time trying anywhere marked ‘Harley-Davidson’. Quite a lot of those only sold tee shirts and wallets on chains. I eventually found one set of leathers, stuffed full of old newspapers and perched atop a sports bike in a Kawasaki shop window. But if I wanted to buy my own they’d have to be ordered from Illinois.
So I still don’t have a leather riding suit. No track days for me. It looks very much as if mail order is the only option. If so, I’ll probably bespeak a made-to-measure suit.