I owe Red a lot of thanks for many things in my life and this is no exception. Red and I have gone through a number of adventures in our lives and I look forward to many more. As Red mentioned I am now the proud owner of the Seca II.
For as much similarities as Red and I have, our lives at home are different. Because of this, our perspectives may differ as well. The hope for my contribution in this blog is communicate my view around that context.
As Red mentioned I am a returning rider. What he hasn't mentioned is that the decision to get back on a bike hasn't been easy. When I was wee lad my father bought a Honda CL350 scrambler. He would reminisce of his younger riding days with stories of jumped railroad tracks, slide outs, and other guitar slung adventures. For me, It was exhilarating to scoot around town on the back of that Honda. When I was old enough he would let me drive it around a small field in the back of his house. I used to do endless laps in that field. A few times my younger sister would ride on the back. And if my father was in earshot when I kicked that little Honda above 3rd gear I would be sure to “hear” about it when I got back home. Sadly, like many other Honda’s from that era, it would end its life in a scrap yard as a discarded project my father and I never got a round to finish.
As I transitioned into high school I dreamt of getting a sport bike. I always had my eye on a Honda F2. I would pour through Dennis Kirk catalogs endlessly outfitting myself and the bike. I had a subscription to Motorcyclist Magazine that continued to fuel that fever each month.
It wouldn’t be until I was in my second year of college that I bought my first motorcycle. It was a ’88 Kawasaki 500ex with full custom fairings and a lovely paint job to boot. I would take many things for granted with this bike but I enjoyed every minute of it. As if I were following the stat lines in every safety manual, I put that bike down twice in 6 months. The first time was at night. I was wearing nothing more than a t-shirt, shorts, and a helmet. While slowing to make a turn into a local drugstore I hit the pavement. Before I knew what was going on my helmet whacked the ground amongst the dust of gravel. What I failed to see while making that turn was that the power company had removed a small section of pavement and filled it with gravel. To my error I was braking while in the turn and failed the see the gravel. When that front tire crossed the small section down I went, pride and all. The once beautiful paint job was now battle scared and the right front turn signal found a new home inside the fairing.
The second time the bike went down was pure old cockiness. Most of the classes were letting out at the college I was attending so traffic was pretty heavy. I was following a good ol’ boy in a white pickup that was racing from light to light. Of course my head I was screaming “race him.” I was following way to close. The driver let me know by locking up his back wheels to graciously let me slide into him. I had it coming. It was a game I was destined to lose. My rear tire locked up the bike kicked out from underneath me. Luckily I was able to to plant my feet and remain standing as the bike slid down. When I got it back up I gave chase. The driver apologized and shook my hand. Again I found myself prying that turn signal from the front fairing.
A couple years later I sold the bike. Regretfully I found something useless to spend the money on and my bike owner days disappeared as did the hobby I invested in. I’ve said many times I wouldn’t own another bike using my lack of self control and the danger I would put myself in as the excuse. Was I fit to responsibly ride? At that point in my life I wasn’t fit for many of life’s responsibilities.
12 years have gone by. I’m happily married, have found good work, and have two young children that I live for every day. The decision to get back on the bike was a battle. It still is. How does this risk balance in my life and is it necessary? Instead of dwelling in the land of risk and safety statistics I’ve decided to focus on the positives. Friendships, new experiences, and rekindling a lost love.
My plan is simple. Stay alive. Always SEE. Participate in driver safety courses. Wear the right gear. Ride within my limits and enjoy every minute of it.