I remember it like it was yesterday. She was beautiful: tall, trim and tantalizing. She was aggressive and experienced. I was nervous and naive. I will never forget the first time I laid eyes on her. My dad introduced us. No kidding. I can still see the two of us riding there in his truck, turning down the road into the addition where her home was located. We pulled into the drive…and there she was in the front yard. It was love at first sight! Was this really happening? Would she really come home with me? Was she going to be mine? Once I sampled her pleasure I would never be the same again.
The year was 1976, I was 16 years old. She was born in 1972…and her name was Suzuki. It was the summer of ’76 that my father bought me my very first street legal motorcycle and my life changed forever.
No clutch, no shifter, poor brakes…and awesome fun! The reason I never spent much time riding a bicycle when I was young is that I always had a motor! We lived on 50 acres and were surrounded by about 80 acres of quarry owned woods. My neighbors got bikes too and we spent the next 8 years wreaking havoc in the neighborhood.
About the time we turned 16, my neighbor and best friend Tony, moved on to cars. He began building a badass Pinto (yeah, I know, sounds impossible!) in his garage, a skill that became his career. That was the beginning of the end of his motorcycle days. My other neighbor Kevin, had a bike, but never really progressed past the 80 cc machines and eventually moved on…to girls I think! That left me. My dad gave me my first car, a 1969 Ford F100 Truck. I loved it, but it was the motorcycle that he bought me that changed my life. Now, its not like my folks were rich and couldn’t wait to buy me things. My dad and I had just spent the past 3 years building a new home. I worked on that house nearly every day for 3 years. I nailed boards when I wanted to and I nailed boards when Dad wanted me to, which was all the time. Weekdays, weekends, we worked until it was done. He promised me nothing. He never inferred I would be rewarded. I never questioned. I was his son, he was my dad and this is what we did. When the house was complete he surprised me with the truck, some cash and my very first street motorcycle. I’m sure Mom was thrilled.
I had been riding dirt bikes, two stroke and four for 9 nine years. I loved riding in the woods. I loved jumping, wheelies, sliding and spinning around corners. I built jumps, dips and even a small oval flat track in the field. Even though I have not owned an offroad bike in about 10 years, I still love the idea of them and would probably have one if I did not live in a condo. However, nothing has ever impacted me like that first street bike. It opened up an entirely new world to me; the world of exploration, the world of adventure, the world of travel. It was like I was handed a key, unlocked my shackles and I was free…free to go anywhere, any time.
That was 37 years ago. There was a brief period in my adult life where I did not own a bike. What a bleak period! Somewhere along the way the desire woke up and could not be denied…and here I am today, nothing more than a motorcycle vagabond at heart. Most of my co-workers don’t really know me very well. They are often surprised when they see me pull up to work on a sport bike, bug covered helmet and road-grimed jacket. They say they would have never “seen me” as a motorcycle rider. The funny part is, the white collar manager that they know me as is the real fraud…that is not me at all. I’m blue jeans, t-shirt and a motorbike.
As you get older, everyone starts talking about and asking you about your “bucket list.” I only have one thing on my list: ride my bike anywhere and everywhere I can. That is it. I want to ride for months at a time. I want to have no agenda, no time frame, no plan…just ride and experience the road, the scenery and the people. In 1976, when Dad brought me to meet that ugly orange, unreliable piece of junk TS 250, he had no idea that he was handing me the key to the most memorable and enjoyable times of my life. Over the years, his decision has given me unmeasurable happiness, peace, stress relief and joy untold. My first time was not my last time…it set me free and I shall not be caged.