My first bike
I rode a motorcycle, once, when I just graduated from college. A Honda Nighthawk 650 I think. A friend of a friend showed me the ropes. I hopped on, he hopped on the back and onto the highway we went. Not my smartest move but we survived. That was around 1989. Never rode again after that, until…. 2000 when I sat on the back of a Harley after a night of drinking and got a ride to the next bar. No helmet of course…Again…not one of my better decisions. Then in 2014 my wife, Kathleen, said we should get a bike. Ok!
I signed up for the safety class and started shopping. The class was great for a complete beginner. “Point at the ignition”. “Insert the key in the ignition”. “Turn the key to the right”…you get it. While I was getting ready for the class I started shopping on line, and in shops just talking to the guys. I wanted to spend under $5,000 thinking that if I crashed I wouldn’t be out $20,000 for a new Harley. I always pictured myself on a cruiser; my wife wanted a Goldwing. I found a fantastic salesman who really worked with me to understand my experience, the type of riding we wanted to do, and my budget. After many questions and visits I was buying a 2006 Suzuki V-Strom 650. It was baby blue, very clean, never dropped, and really comfortable. Every review I read was great.
The day I picked it up Kathleen came to the shop with me. I signed all of the paperwork and they wheeled the bike into the back parking lot. After we walked around the bike and pointed at things it was time to go. The salesman, Kathleen and another couple also buying a bike at the time were the only ones there. My heart was pounding. I was sweating. I was nervous like I was singing the national anthem at the super bowl. Everything that I learned in class was running through my head so fast that I didn’t know what to do first. I pointed at the key. I inserted it in the ignition. And I turned it to the right. I rode in first gear, bucking all the way to the edge of the parking lot where it meets the road. I looked left and then right. Then left again. Right, left and right. There wasn’t a car for miles. I pulled out and rode for all of a ¼ mile before I realized I might be having a heart attack. I pulled into a parking lot to get my shit together and talk myself off the ledge. I just needed to ride and get some practice.
I figured the best place to go would be the huge parking lot where my office was and just practice. I would take the back roads, stay off the highway, and avoid traffic. So I pulled out again and there I was riding my bike. I was doing great until I realized that the route I was riding would take me to a major intersection to get to my office and a series of slow figure 8’s. I was in the left turn lane, inching my way forward with the rest of the traffic and it was my turn to go. I hit the gas and promptly stalled the bike. The woman in the car behind me honked her horn. I looked in the rear view mirror and she had her arms raised over her head and an expression on her face that I clearly read as “You dumb shit – you made me miss the light!”
I went to the office for all of about 5 minutes. I figured fuck it…I needed to ride. So I did. For the rest of the day and every day that fall until my fingers were so cold that I needed to pull off and get warm. I haven’t stopped. I upgraded to a 2014 V-Strom 1000A after Kathleen and I felt the 650 wasn’t going to cut it riding 2 up on a long tour. HC Brian and I bought our bikes at the same time, and we started some tours with the rest of the Chaps. Of course we weren’t a gang then. But we are now.
And by the way, why the nickname Mule? I’ll leave that up to your imagination…