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Dear Friend

 

Prelude

Some years ago, my life got twisted. My wife got breast cancer, and it was a dark time for me. I was afraid to loose her, I was afraid to fail her by not being strong enough. Luckily for us, she survived, and now over 6 years later, she is “cured”.

But, back then, a lot of things happened. My wife was lucky to have friends, or at least one friend, who was her rock. She was there for her and that relationship certainly help my wife in those difficult times.

One of the things that happens in those situations is, that everyone of course asks “how is your wife?”. Noone asks about the husband. So I had to rely on my friends to be a support network for me.

Sadly, this turned out to be a clusterfuck. I remember, one friend that I was supposed to visit the weekend my wife got her diagnosis. I called him, told him, close to tears, that i can’t visit this weekend. That, seriously, was the last I ever heard of him.

My best friend, a person I had known over 30 years, since high school, did not behave much better. What I expected was someone who calls, at least on a weekly basis, to check in with me. Instead I had contact not more often than in the past, and when I inquired once, I got told “I don’t want to disturb your wife”.

I ended this relationship, in anger, in frustration, without ever telling my friend what happened, or why I hurt him like that. It took me years to understand the thing completely (as it usually does), and while I have no intention to rekindle that relationshp, it is a bit therapeutic for myself to write the following letter:

 

Dear Friend,

I know that we did not part on good terms. I made a hasty decision, and that decision to terminate our friendship of over 35 years must have hurt you.

I don’t know if you will ever read this, or if you actually care to understand why I did what I did. It does not matter. It helps me with my life to write this down, and if it happens to help you, or someone else, reading this, all the better.

When my wife got cancer, I was devastated. As probably everone is, who is confronted with news like this. I was confronted with endless possibilities in my head, and most of them were on the dark side of things.

My wife got a therapist and friends who were there for her. Of course, the world cared for her, her state of being, her state of mind. After all, she was confronted with a potential deadly sickness, and I, I was just the husband. So nobody really worried about me.

This included my friends. As said above, one in particular made a fantastic exit. But you? You, the friend I loved for so long, the one I knew for longer than anyone? You did not behave the way I needed you to behave.

Go back a level. I know I am one of those people who overdoes love, friendship and all that. I am always there, I do everything for the people I care for. When you were in the hospital and needed to get out? I drove 100km to be there and argue with the doctors and get you home. You had an infected tooth, I called for a few days every day to make sure you are ok. Your lifepartner needed to move furniture? I drive an hour to help.

I am an idiot, i know.

But I normally don’t expect this to be returned, at least not to that extend. But here I was, more afraid, more sad, more devastated than at any other time in my life. And I desperatly needed someone to be there. For me. Just for me. So that I did not feel so fucking afraid and alone anymore.

And you did not increase your level of contact. You and me have been in touch around every 6 weeks, and that’s the way it continued. I never told you: please call me more often, plese tell me you care. I never thought I needed to. You were suppoed to be my best friend. You were supposed to know.

But, you did not. You did not want to call more often, you were afraid of disturbing my wife. Disturbing her from doing what? From sitting there being afraid for her life? Yeah, who does want to be disturbed from that….

I did not understand this back then. By now I know. We, in our society, are not used to deal with death, or the potential of it. When my other friend disappeared from my life, he did so, because I believe he just was scared. He got this phone call, and then he did not know what to do. He waited, and the longer he waited, the more he was afraid that if he calls now he has to deal with the ultimate, the one thing you can not fix, the one thing you do not know how to heal.

And I believe, to some extend, this ailed you as well. I, by now, believe you cared. Of course you did, you were my friend for so long. But you did not want to change the routine, upset the balance of things, because that would be admitting that something terrible might have entered this relationship. You were scared, just as I was.

But, from my side, I did not see this, I did not want to. I needed someone to give me strenght and support, and all I got was the “same as usual”. That was not enough, that was something that made me deeply sad, frustrated and disappointed.

I needed you to be there for me. And it hurt, it hurt soo much that you were not.

So, I terminated our friendship. I wondered for years why. Why did I just go and cut you off. I realized in the last year why. I was just not strong enough. I knew back then that I should have talked to you, tell you what I need, tell you that I am sad about that you did not behave the way I expected, listened to you about your fears and your problems of dealing with the situation. You liked my wife, you must have had your own set of fears around it.

And here is the reason. I just had no strength for this. I was feeling that if I talk to you about this, that this will take more strength than I have. I needed every last bit of it to be there for my wife. I had nothing to give to you, to help you deal with this. I needed you to help me, not the other way round. There was nothing, not a single bit of strength for you.

It required less strength to throw our friendship away that it required to explain my pain to you. And there was only that option, because keeping you in my life would have prolonged the pain to feel abandomed in all this. I could just not deal with this, I could not try to fix the 2 of us, and to fix my life. There was no room, no energy, nothing left to give.

I am sorry I was that weak. That I did not have the strength to accept your failing me. You had to face something extraordanary –  the wife of a friend potentially dying. And you could not deal with it in the best way possible. But, I faced much worse, and I had to face it alone. Because you were not there for me the way I needed you to be there. I needed you to step up and be better that this.

6 years later, I understand that I was asking a lot. But my wife had friends, who had the same challenge, and they behaved as I expect friends to behave. Good for her.

I have forgiven you for letting me down. I have also realized that I am asking to much, in general, of my friends, in fact of people in general. So, I apologize for hurting you years ago. For terminating my friendship with you without telling you why. I am deeply sorry that I did it the way I did it.

I am not though, expecting our friendship to “resume”. You did let me down, you let me down when this was not an option. I would never, ever, trust you to be there when I need you.

I only want to explain why I did what I did. And, I do miss you, a lot. But I just would never be able to trust you to be there. For me.

Love

F.

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A new bike arrives

If you don’t care about why others buy what bike, stop reading now. 

For the last 3.5 years, i was riding a 2015 BMW R1200RT with much joy, a little over 10tkm per year on that one. It was the easiest bike to ride i ever have ridden, and it is probably one of the best touring motorcycles ever build. I did really long trips with that one (like Marbella -> Zurich in one go, took 22 hours) and i did not hurt too badly when i arrived home 🙂 

The RT had a lot of good points:

  • very comfortable
  • very good 2up machine
  • easy to ride
  • Boxer engine (i know that is debatable and can be on both lists :))
  • great weather protection
  • on the minus side though
  • terrible luggage system. Heavy. small, try to attach additional fuel tanks, or a tent… 
  • pretty bulky and heavy when you need to push it
  • it’s a sports tourer. You don’t do any gravel roads, because each scratch looks just wrong on it
  • in the hot summer, the weather protection is a curse

I want to do gravel again in Africa, and the RT is not the ideal machine for that, due to the luggage option, the fairing that just does not want to be scratched and the available tyre options.

So the idea of going BMW GS again, or similar. After 4 BMWs in a row, i felt it was time for a change. They ride great, but all 4 of them had significant issues (during warranty, but still, in the shop, and some of it might have been dangerous if not caught in time) – the QA is lacking imo. And, in all seriousness, in Europe, you go to any Motorcyle happening, if you ride BMW, you have to RFID tag YOUR bike to find it again among all the other bikes looking exactly like yours.

I considered KTM and Ducati, but i don’t like the KTM look personally, and the nearest Ducati dealer is rather far away. The Triumph dealer (which i bought a Thruxton R from 2 years ago and am very happy with) was just around the corner of the office. 

I always like Triumph, but the last time i rode an Explorer, the cockpit was kind of ugly, and the machine just felt too high compared to the GS. So back then (7? years ago), i went with a GS that i happily rode for a few years. 
In March i did a 3 hour testride of the newest Tiger 1200, and i liked it enough to buy one on the spot. Lucky for me, they delivered my machine before Brexit becomes a reality over here, I do hope they sort this out before i need spare parts 🙂

What i noticed so are about the machine, compared to my GS and RT:

  • all the knobs and buttons are backlighted in the dark. That’s very useful imo, there are buttons i don’t use often enough to have a muscle memory for them (at least not yet)
  • the LED adaptive light is amazing in the dark. Finally, i go into a turn and i see the road and not the house on the other side.
  • the triple engine is very different compared to the boxer. It’s quiet (as long as you don’t let the tiger roar) and very cultivated. Lucky for me i have another 2 cylinder engine if I miss the vibrations.
  • The luggage system (from Givi) is a lot better than the ZegaPro stuff from Touratech i had on my GS. Just mounting and unmounting is so simple. Same 45/37L asymmetrical side case setup, which for me is better than the Triumph (GIVI based) 37/37 symmetrical system.
  • Good display, easy menu navigation
  • very comfortable, good enough weather protection (of course, RT was better)
  • super stable on the highway, although i have not been on German super speedways yet
  • on my RT i had to select: rider/rider+1/rider+luggage as setups for the machine. On the Triumph, this is done automatically based on the weight it measures. I like it, the older BMW system was a pain to remember to do, and if you didn’t you noticed first time you had to break hard. 

On the negative side: 

  • the Tourance Next (default tire), is creating some weird noises between 35-55km/h. Not too annoying, and a known issue, which might go away once the tire is a bit more run in. 
  • The keyless system is only for the ignition. You need a key for filling gas, you need another key for the topcase/sidecase. I noticed that yesterday: i got the helmet out of the topcase, forgot the key in the topcase lock, rode home for 40km including highways to luckily discover that the key is still in the lock when i searched for it in the garage. The BMW system is keyless for everything, that is much nicer.
  • Also, you can argue that the Triumph is not really a  “dirt bike”. Of course not, but it is probably less a dirt bike than the GS, and even more so compared to the KTM. I got the Xrt version which does not even have the spoked wheels.

The non spoke wheel Xrt version is as “dirt” ready as the Xca, but yes, if you hit a rock, you probably break the wheels. I don’t plan on doing that (i do gravel, but normally i don’t cross dry river beds, especially not alone on a big bike like that), and the non Xrt is 10 pounds lighter than the Xca. Also, you can only get a red bike as an Xrt 🙂 
So far, only 6 hours of riding in, but i enjoy the bike, it has (beside emergency call) anything i would want in a bike and i am looking forward to going to Africa again next year.