I didn’t go out looking for a motorcycle – I was a car guy. One day I was visiting a friend and hanging out in the garage. We were talking about cars over an adult beverage. That’s when I saw it. I immediately knew it was time to ride on two wheels.
My friend was selling a motorcycle for one of his buddies. It was a Suzuki Katana. It was customized as a racing bike – but still street legal. His friend had been in a minor accident at the race track and decided to give up the sport. He fixed all of the damage and decided to sell it. That made me want it even more – it just looked too cool for school. We dusted off the bike and pulled it out into the driveway. I had ridden some dirt bikes before but never a street bike – and certainly not a “crotch rocket.” This thing looked fast just standing still. My heart was thumping in my chest and my palms were sweating. Even before I rode this monster I decided I had to have it.
The next step was the test ride. I didn’t even have a helmet. I put the bike in neutral and fired up the engine. I wasn’t prepared for the loud blast of the exhaust. This thing sounded mean. After letting the bike warm up for a few minutes I hopped on board. The seat fit me like a glove. I put the cycle in gear and let out the clutch while giving it some gas. The bike’s front wheel lifted off the ground! I gave it too much gas. I hit the brakes and pulled in the clutch lever. I almost tipped it over on its side. I scared myself.
After this drama it was time to start again. I let out the clutch and barely twisted the throttle. It moved off slowly. At first I just putted slowly around the neighborhood. Once I felt comfortable, it was time to hit a main street – somewhere I could test out just how fast it was. Let me tell you, it was crazy fast. I rode it around for about half an hour to get used to it. This thing was a dream to ride. Having spent my driving career on four wheels, it felt like I was free – riding with the wind in my face. I couldn’t get enough.
Finally, it was time to get back to my friend’s house. I parked in the driveway and made my offer on the bike. He asked for a little more. I was already addicted to it, so I said fine. The next thing I knew I was at the bank withdrawing the cash. My next stop was a motorcycle dealership to buy a helmet. I didn’t need to splatter my brain on the concrete if I fell off.
I got the bike back to my apartment and immediately set out to clean and wax it. I wanted to show it off to my friends. I got the paint glowing and all of the chrome polished to a gleaming luster. After riding around for a few days I decided to show it to my mom. I picked a time when I knew my dad wouldn’t be home – I knew he wouldn’t approve. He would demand that I sell it. Mom was a little different. She came out in the driveway and stopped in her tracks. She was little freaked out. I had brought a lot of cars over to show off but never something like this. She just asked me one question: “Are you crazy?” All she could talk about was me getting killed.
After calming her down over a glass of wine, I convinced her that I was going to take a motorcycle safety course and buy some protective riding gear. That calmed her down quite a bit. By then mom was ready for a second glass. She was still skeptical about the whole thing, but at least she wasn’t mad. Mom was always on my side – I just liked to keep her on her toes.
Just to add to her worries, I showed the motorcycle to my brother. A week later he bought one too. Mom had a few choice words about my brotherly influence. Hey, he was a big boy! We spent many weekends riding the back roads and touring the mountain passes. These things just ate up the road. We rode like maniacs. Somehow we never fell off or got a speeding ticket.
The end of my motorcycle career came one day when I was out for a ride alone. I was winding up a steep and twisty road. I went into a corner just a little too fast. I drifted into the center of the road where all of the grit and gravel was piled up. The bike started to wobble, and I started slipping into the oncoming lane just as a car came along in the opposite direction. We passed so close to each other that I could see the whites of the drivers’ eyes. Somehow I got the thing back under control. That did it. I wanted back on four wheels. I was done riding – I had lost my nerve.
I put the bike up for sale a few days later. I advertised it as a race bike and started getting dozens of phone calls. I had jacked up the price quite a bit higher than what I bought it for. It didn’t scare anyone off. The second guy to come see it just had to have it. It reminded me of my first gut feeling. For a guy into bikes, it was a must have.
We hit his bank and I handed over the keys. As he rode off, I had a sense of relief. I had survived my biking experience without killing myself. It was time to buckle up and drive a car again. I bet a lot of people want to try out a bike but have enough sense to stick with a car. It’s nice to have solid steel around you – and a seatbelt too. Not to mention some air bags! So, for you bike lovers … ride on and be careful.