I’ve spent the better part of the last twenty-five years riding. Like a lot of guys, once I realized that girls like guys that ride, and considering that I lacked anything that even slightly resembled coolness, I figured that was my easy way in. Little did I know that, despite motorcycles never successfully getting me laid, I stumbled across a part of myself that has come to define a big portion of my life.
So with the purchase of that beaten down ironhead Sportster, bought from the angry wife of a dude sitting in a jail cell, I started to learn more about myself. Mostly how to deal with frustration, as anyone with an old Harley must quickly come to terms with. But also how I suddenly became In Control of my world when everything else was disjointed and vague. How it wasn’t some cheesy wind-in-my-hair, If-you-don’t-ride-you-don’t-get-it kind of pseudo Zen, but to use a cliche’ it was like a duck to water. I determined the kind of people who I could invest my time in based upon the way they rode, which for an introvert any way to more accurately describe a person is a huge benefit. I learned how to read the sky when I wanted to go in a certain direction N-S-E-W, and how if the sky was better in the other direction then to hell with it, whip a U and let’s go that way. What color should that spark plug be when it came out? Hell it was easier to ride during the cold months than it was to drain the tank or clean the carbs in the spring. All of this became required reading to me, and I was a voracious reader.
Over the course of that time, I have done every type of riding that I could. I have gone cross country, both on bikes ill-suited for the journey (reference again that ironhead Sportster with a 2 gallon peanut tank) as well as a purpose-built touring rig, I have blasted through the twisties on a 900cc Ducati SS/CR (that intake howl from the flatsides and K&N’s is still the most horrifyingly sexy thing I’ve ever experienced), commuted on everything from a cheap GY-6 scooter to cruisers to litre bikes. Dirtbikes became my thing for a while, especially of the two-stroke variety. My kids learned to ride that way, though they haven’t taken to it like dad did. Maybe they still haven’t had that epiphany. And yes I’ve taken my spills, the worst of which cost me 10 days in a hospital and 6 months in a wheelchair after a truck-bike collision on the Tail of the Dragon. In response to that crash, and the few smaller drops I’ve dealt with, is to get back to riding as soon as I was able. In fact I laughed with a shared pride watching Valentino Rossi walking through the paddocks in 2010 using a cane to get to his bike prior to a race, I’ve been there man. But every ride has been crucial, important, and valuable. Whenever I acquire a new bike, everyone asks me what is the first thing I want to add to it. My obsessively consistent response is simply, “Miles”.
I have come to a point in life where I like to think that I am more mature, though I have a bit of a devilish child in me still. I sold off the big fast bikes, the wicked two-stroke dirtbikes, and selected a 390 Duke. Its amazing, suits my smallish (I’d say average) size and riding style to a T, and has proven to be a reliable steed for both short rids and long. I don’t need the fastest, flashiest, wildest ride out there, just something that holds my attention and gets me where I’m going. The fact that it looks and rides incredibly as well as trips my fetish for being exotic is just icing on the cake. On top of that, as a seasoned shadetree mechanic I keep a couple of vintage and project bikes just so my fingernails stay appropriately filthy and I can fit in if I ever make it back to Austin. Plus once the googlecars take over the roads and the police begin using EMPs and hackers to shut down anyone having fun on the open road, the points ignitions and grungy Keihin carbs will keep me putting along under the radar.
Because its all about adding miles.