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In May 2011 I made what I consider to be one of the worst decisions of my life: I traded my beloved 2008 Triumph America for a bigger bike, a Triumph Rocket III Touring. I had gotten it in my head that I needed a big bike. Not just a big bike, the BIGGEST bike.
Almost from the moment I brought the Rocket III home from the dealership, I realized it wasn’t the right bike for me. I really missed my America. I was sorry I had traded it in. I was disappointed in myself for getting bitten by the ‘bigger is better’ bug and had been kicking myself ever since. I pined to have an America back in my stable again.
Early this season I sold the Rocket and bought a used V-Strom, which has proven to be a very good choice for me. But I had it in the back of my head that if the opportunity presented itself, I would add another America to the stable. For much of this season I had my eye out for another used one.
Then a few weeks ago I took a riding class at a racetrack and had suddenly gotten bit by the track day bug. Now I had it in my mind to get an inexpensive track bike and do more track days – something like a mid 2000’s R6 or CBR-600. So yesterday I made the rounds of local dealerships looking for a candidate to buy.
As I pulled into Martin Motorsports, one of my usual haunts, I noticed a woman standing next to a Pacific Blue and New England White America just like the one I used to own. “Cool,” I thought. “An America like my old one.” I parked my ‘Strom and walked over to say hi.
“Hi there, I used to have a bike just like that,” I said with a smile as I approached her. Then, as I got closer, I noticed something. Not only was this America just like my old one, it WAS my old one. There was a telltale scratch on the tank that had its roots in a camping trip I had taken with some friends in 2010. We had paused to rest and take some pictures near a pretty lake, and as we were gearing up and getting ready to go,I swung my leg over the tank and a rock in the heel of my boot made an ugly scratchmark.
This bike had the same scratch.
“Did you buy this bike at Hermy’s?” I asked.
“Yes, we did,” she replied.
“Last May?” I asked.
“Yes, my husband and I bought this last May,” she replied.
“This used to be my bike.”
I told her the story about how I had traded it and missed it, when she dropped this bombshell: “We just traded it in for a Thunderbird.”
I could not believe it. I had missed this bike for the past year and three months. I had thought about getting an America to replace it. And here it was, about to be placed on the showroom floor of my favorite motorcycle dealership.
Today, my beloved 2008 Triumph America is back in my garage. It was an expensive round trip, as I got trade-in value for the America in May 2011 and paid retail value to buy it back yesterday; and I bought the Rocket at retail value in May 2011 and sold it for something less than retail value this past February. I don’t want to think about how much money this bad decision cost me, really. But I am so grateful that the bike is back in my life.
When I tested it out yesterday, it was like being back with an old friend. When I drove it home, it was like it had never left. When I was signing the papers to buy the bike, the woman who handles transactions at Martin’s remarked, “You just can’t get away from this bike, huh?” I literally started to well up and replied, “No. It’s not that. I have an emotional connection to this bike. I made a mistake and it found its way back to me.”
So many strange coincidences had to happen for this bike to get reunited with me: I went out yesterday shopping for a sport bike and ended up at Martin’s at around 1PM; Frank and Holly, the couple who owned the America, were just out riding, stopped at Martin’s, and fell in love with the Thunderbird they ended up buying at around the same time. I believe that the Pacific Blue and New England White 2008 America that I started my motorcycling career with will now be in my garage forever. Perhaps one day one of my grandchildren-to-be will inherit it…
A few weeks ago I was on a date with a woman. It was pretty early in the dating process – that awkward stage where there’s preliminary attraction but you just don’t know for sure. We were at a coffee shop, groping for common ground, and it was becoming increasingly clear there wasn’t enough.
Then she sealed her fate by asking, “What’s with the motorcycle thing, anyway?”
I was caught off guard by the whole way she asked the question, in a semi-accusatory way. As if I had to justify my love of motorcycles to her. I thought for a moment about how to answer. Usually, I tell my story about how watching The Last Lecture had me thinking about childhood dreams, and how this led me to inventory my childhood dreams, and #1 on the list was riding a motorcycle, and how within 60 days of that realization I had a motorcycle license and a new Triumph America.
If I want to be charming, I’ll tell that story, and continue on to how motorcycling has since become my #1 passion and hobby and has changed my whole lifestyle. But I had no desire to be charming with this woman since it clearly just wasn’t there. Didn’t want to waste my breath.
So I simply replied, “It’s fun.”
And it’s true. Why do I ride, really? Because it’s fun. Why do I chose to go through the process of gearing up and stowing my briefcase and ride to work instead of drive? Because it’s fun. Why did I essentially give up golf because I preferred going for a long motorcycle ride on a Saturday afternoon to hacking my way around a golf course? Because it’s fun. Why do I take 10 or so days a year off from work to go on motorcycle camping trips instead of lying on a beach? Because it’s fun.
So there you have it folks, I ride because it’s fun. And that’s now become my standard response when someone asks about riding a motorcycle and how I got into it and why I ride. It’s simple: I ride because it’s fun.
One of my goals for this year was to get some experience offroading. I haven’t had a two-wheeled motorized vehicle offroad since my Rupp Scrambler circa 1975. At Saturday’s Kawasaki demo day I asked one of the guides who had offroad experience about how to get training, to which he replied, “I dunno. I’m one of those crazy guys who will just go and do it.” Mind you, this is a guy who claims he rode his KLR-650 to the Arctic circle last year. So I was inspired.
Yesterday I found some dirt roads to demo my V-strom on. Here’s some video of my first offroad experiences.
Somewhere on the mountain near Bear Creek Ski Resort:
Then when I got back to my hometown I had a realization. Lansdale is an old town with old-school back alleys behind the homes. These back alleys are all gravel. So I decided to take a few laps around town. “Urban Offroading” I called it. The trip ends with a lap around my yard. And you’ve gotta love the drunk stumbling down the back alley with a big jug of wine in his hand at the 34 second mark of the video. It was about 3:40 in the afternoon too, and he was weaving back and forth pretty good. Lansdale is also one of those towns where drunks stumble down the back alleys:
On a completely unrelated note, riding motorcycles on strange roads lets you see some strange things. Here’s a house I saw in my travels that is made to look like Noah’s arc. As a friend mentioned, Noah didn’t need a dove…he had a satellite dish.
Over the weekend I was in Cape May with a bunch of friends for an annual gathering. On the way back I rode up the coast from Cape May to Somers Point, NJ; trying to stay as close to the beach as possible the whole way up. I was trying to find New Jersey’s version of the Pacific Coast Highway (hint: it doesn’t exist.)
In each town I visited, I tried to get a pic of my bike with water in the background – either the beach or the bay. I missed a few but here are the high points.
My original plan was to continue up the coast to Atlantic City and head back from there, but by the time I got to Somers Point I was tired and ready to head home. Even after stopping in Ocean City for a pork roll and cheese sammich on the boardwalk…
Yesterday I was at Martin Motorsports for its annual show “The Modern Classics.” Once again Martin’s demonstrated why it’s the best motorcycle dealership in the Philadelphia area, bar none.
The dealership turned it’s showroom floor into a motorcycle show which, in Martin’s words, “celebrates the motorcycles of the 60s, 70s and 80s that made big contributions to their eras with their technology, style, performance or establishing new trends…the bikes you remember…the bikes that made you a motorcyclist!”
It worked, in spades. The place was packed with hundreds of people and the bikes on the showroom floor were an amazing collection of rolling works of art. My friend Scott and I agreed: if someone gave us the freedom to pick any bike on the floor to take home, it would be damn-near impossible to make a decision.
The folks at Martin’s just get it. It’s not just about selling bikes and performing service. It’s about celebrating motorcycles, celebrating being a rider. Every weekend at Martin’s is a happening, even run-of-the-mill weekends when there is nothing special going on, even if it’s just to stop by and look around.
Enough words. Enjoy the pictures.
This was posted by a fellow motorcyclist on Reddit, so I can’t take credit for finding it. Just wanted to share and share it some more.
I hope like these Taiwanese gentlemen, I’m still riding well into my 80s. Enjoy!
Here’s the other half of my list – the guys I’d most like in my riding crew.
10. Quentin Tarantino. As I noted last week, Quentin and I have the same taste in women. And I have loved every single one of his movies. He’s got a similarly warped view of the world as I do. Q, let’s ride!
9. Michael Parks. Just because I want to be able to say I rode with Bronson.
Ironically there is a Michael Parks – Quentin Tarantino connection. Parks played not one but two roles in the Tarantino epic Kill Bill.
Just jumping on the bandwagon…seen a lot of these Shit(People)Say memes lately.
Here’s some shit that bikers say:
- Keep the shiny side up.
- Keep the rubber side down.
- Loud pipes save lives
- Four wheels move the body, two wheels move the soul.
- It gets 120 horsepower at the wheel.
- It gets 148 horsepower at the crank
- I’m going to Sturgis
- I’m going to Tail of the Dragon
- I’m going to Daytona
- Someday I’m going to ride cross country
- I’m going darkside
- Massive amounts of torque
- One percenters
- You’ll never see a motorcycle in front of a psychologist’s office
- Dragged a knee
- Scraped my pegs
- Ride it like you stole it
- You can’t win an argument with an 18 wheeler
There’s others. I’ll add more as I think of ’em. If you have others, you can add them in the comments section and I’ll post them too.
I recently read this awful article on Brit’s top 10 motorcycle dream passengers. Pamela Anderson as #1? Really? Can we BE more cliche? Sorry but I like ’em real and spectacular. Prince William? I mean, I realize your British and everything, but aren’t you a bit miffed that the Royals’ extravagant lifestyle is sustained on your backs? And Tom Cruise? TOM CRUISE???
I expected more from the land that brought us the Speed Triple and the Rocket III.
So I’m going to do my own lists, with one modification. The women are dream passengers. I don’t want any guy riding on the back of my bike, ever, so later in the week I’ll do a separate list of men I’d like to have riding in my group.
Here’s who’s riding pillion on my Rocket in some parallel universe where I get to chose:
#10: Mary-Louise Parker. The incredibly hot Mary-Louise plays the enterprising Nancy Botwin on the hysterically-funny Showtime series Weeds. And, she’s the star of the Most Intense Sex Scene in a TV Series, Ever. Here’s the prelude – use your imagination (and rent the DVD) if you want to see the rest, which is well worth it: