30 Apr 2005
I’m going to tempt fate again. Carolyn (wisely) suggested “Why don’t you write it offline first?” And that really was a good suggestion. Only, I like to tempt fate — at least with small things that don’t really matter. And while I’d like to tell you about my motorcycling, It’s hardly really important. So, here I am again; in the blogger window, writing about motorcycling.
(For those of you who are wondering what the fuck is he talking about?, see Doomed, I tell you! Doomed)
I think the first time I was going to post this, I had a point. Unfortunately, it was lost by the second time. This being the third attempt, the point is long gone and the gist may have followed after.
Because my dad was a motorcyclist, I’ve been exposed to, and around, motorcycles most of my life. The picture that opens this entry is me at 19 months on my dad’s then brand new 1971 Honda CB 750. I remember getting to ride forward on the tank with my dad sitting behind me. I felt perfectly safe with my dad behind me, his arms around on either side of me, the windshield in front and the bike below. I was morose the day my dad said I had to ride behind him. I’d gotten too big to see over.
In the early ’70s my dad got my mom a Honda Trail 90 for her to commute to work on. I’ve a picture of her sitting on it and smiling, but I have no memories of her actually riding it. It was largely mine by my early teens, though it mostly lived up in our place in the mountains that we call “the shack.” I have fond memories of that machine, which still resides with my dad. It had a clutchless shifter, and a “hi/low” gearing selector lever. When it was in high, and in top gear, it got up near 35 MPH.
When I turned 16, I was excited to get my driver’s license and motorcycle endorsement (duh). In order to do so, I needed to take my dad’s street-legal motorcycle and pass a knowledge and road (aka parking lot) test. The step up from the 90 to the 750 was a leap indeed, and I was never really comfortable on that large a bike. Still, I passed the test easily receiving my endorsement on my 16th birthday! Unfortunately, we screwed up the timing, and I couldn’t do both the motorcycle and the automobile road tests the same day, so we went back the next day to get the actual license to be endorsed.
I’d been working for a couple of years at River Runners Emporium and shortly after I turned 16, I bought my own motorcycle. My boss at River Runners thought I should have bought a kayak instead. And while I was tempted by kayaks, he had rental ones I could use, and I was sure that there were many more miles of motorcylceable roads than kayakable rivers. Plus, I couldn’t really commute to work in my kayak!
My first motorcycle was a Suzuki GS550ES. The “S” was for “sport” and really just meant “extra plastic to make it look cool.” But look cool, it did! I was so proud of that machine. And despite being “sport” my dad and I took several motorcycle trips of some distance together. We rode “the back way” from Durham. NC up to Galax, VA in one direction, and to the outer banks in the other.
I made some mistakes on that bike too. Though none too bad (or I’d not be here to write about them). The worst decision was on a ride with my dad. There was a particularly sharp S-turn on a road that we regularly bicycled on that lead from Durham up to Kerr lake on the border between NC and Virginia. I took the turn too fast through the first curve such that I drifted into the (empty) oncoming lane. That freaked me out, and, because of the switchback ahead, I couldn’t see if there was any oncoming traffic. I figured that it made more sense to put the bike in the known ditch instead of face unknown oncoming traffic. I put it in the ditch and was thrown from the bike. The motorcycle needed some work, and my back hurt for a couple of days, but it was really mostly just a scare.
I sold my motorcycle before entering college and used the money to buy my first computer. I figured (correctly) that I was more likely to be able to afford more motorcycles in the future if I developed computing skills than I’d be able to afford computers if I developed motorcycling skills.
My next two motorcycles were different years of the same bike: an 88 and 95 Kawasaki ZX-6. Carolyn may disagree, but I think I’ve always been a fairly timid rider. I do like the twisties, but I would get a little freaked out when (and a little proud after) I would scrape the footpegs or the tailpipe on the bike. That’s something I want to get over: nothing (but braking) screws up a good “line” through a curve worse than hearing scraping and trying to stop it by straightening the bike back up!
I sold that bike before the move to Pennsylvania. I’d not been riding it much since a friend had gotten wiped off the road by a minivan full of tired spring-break-returning students. He lives, (and thrives) but despite the efforts of Virginia’s finest doctors, he now walks with a cane.
I was amazed at the motorcycling community I found when we got up here though — as evidenced by my Grand Day Out and I now sadly miss my motorcycle. I just need to start saving up for my next dream machine.1 OK, my actual next dream machine is probably the Honda ST1300 or maybe the BMW R 1150 RT. But I’m much more likely to be able to come up with the money for a used Interceptor. The Honda Interceptor or CBR 600 has almost always been the sport bike of my dreams. But at this point in my life, I think I want a bike that can put in the miles. Fortunately, the Interceptor seems to have adapted as well and become the sport side of sport touring. I can’t wait to get my hands on one. Anyone have an extra few thousand I can have? I promise to enjoy the ride!