I got my first motorcycle, a very battered Honda CL-175, in 1973 when we moved from town to a house in the country. I'd never much liked driving a car and a friend (whose youth was much more reckless and misspent than mine; to be fair, his youth was more reckless and misspent than that of most people who survive to age 30) suggested I get a motorcycle.
I was amazed to learn that I really like riding a bike. I haven't driven a car since 1988, because in North Carolina it's practical to ride almost every day if you don't mind being rained on. If it's more than me alone going somewhere, then generally the other party or parties drive. One of the major virtues of a bike for me is that if I screw up, I'm unlikely to hurt anybody but myself.
In 1974 I got the 1973 BMW R60/5 I'm standing with in the picture. I don't want to anthropomorphize something that's obviously Just A Machine, but we've taught each other a great deal over the years. I run her three days a week (when she's out of the shop), going into Chapel Hill to check my post office box. Listen to Dave kickstart his Beemer (125 K wav file)
The other three days I ride a rice-burner. The one here is the 2001 Kawasaki Concours which recently replaced the 1986 Concours which I bought new in 1990. They haven't changed the model signficantly, so since I liked the first one very much I bought the new one. It's no crotch rocket, but it'll pass slow traffic in a heartbeat.
The original Concours could hit 150 mph--but not with me aboard. The new model has slightly steeper gearing and would probably be about 3% slower if punched out. That isn't a concern to me.
If any of you have seen Patti Perret's photo of me in The Faces of Science Fiction, that's my first superbike: a Suzuki GS1100E. The chain drive was a hassle and the wrong cross-wind at 80 mph could set up a speed wobble that darned near gave me heart failure the first time it happened; I quite sensibly traded it in on a better bike a few years later.
But you know, I really miss that 1100. Sometimes you get something that just works for you, even if you couldn't in a million years explain why that should be so. As for me, well, I've foolishly lost things that I regret much more than I do a good motorcycle.
|This ring is an image of Narasimha. To ISKCON devotees, he's an avatar of Krishna; in orthodox Hinduism the connection is with Vishnu. He is a protection when going into danger, which the Hare Krishna friend who brought me the ring back from India considers riding a motorcycle to be. (I'm a very careful rider; but sure, there are risks.)|