About five or six years ago, I took up motorcycle riding. I had a buddy of mine who had purchased not one but two older motorcycles which he intended on fixing up. Neither of them were truly working at that point so I decided that I would take one of the local safety/training classes offered by the state…and then eventually go out and purchase a motorcycle of my own.
I ended up buying a 2005 Honda Rebel 250hp (fire engine red, of course). It seemed to be right choice at the time. Nice starter bike, not too heavy so I could get a feel for balancing the bike, great gas mileage (up to 70 mpg), and honestly was just planning on using it for short trips / back and forth, to and from work.
As I started riding more and more on my own, I started getting a sense of deja vu. This feeling became apparent when I had a dream one night about some childhood memories. When I was 9, I got my very first bicycle (1979 Raleigh Rampar, hot orange). Oh, I used to ride that bicycle everywhere around town. I would ride down the sidewalks, along the street, along some “off-the-beat” bike paths. I remember at times, I used to pretend it was a motorcycle…and that’s when I made the connection. That freedom…the freedom we all experience as kids after we got our first bike and took off on our own. I didn’t know how much I missed it until I started riding again.
So one day, I decided I needed to grab a little cash so I jumped on the bike and stopped off at the local ATM in town. I went through, did my business and then stopped nearby in the parking lot (for some reason I can’t remember at the moment). A few moments later, another motorcycle rider pulled up next to me. He was an older gentleman in his sixties…possibly even early 70s. He was all suited up in leather riding a BMW cruiser. We chatted leisurely making small talk about the weather and riding conditions. As we talked, I told him about how I was new to motorcycle riding and getting used to the experience. Then he said something to me that has still resonated to this day:
“I was a fighter pilot back in Vietnam. I have to tell you that riding a motorcycle is the closest thing to flying on the ground. Between wearing a helmet, maneuvering the bike, or the thrill of the speed, there’s nothing else that’s made me feel like I did back then.”
Being a former pilot (as well as a fighter aircraft enthusiast), I completely understood what he meant. There is a feeling, a freedom that you don’t get when driving in a car. It’s hard to describe myself. But I will never forget his words…and I can say that our conversation fueled my love for motorcycle even more. I’m proud to say I’m on my 2nd motorcycle now (Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom) and loving it. A special thanks to my bud for getting me started and helping me recapture some of my youth….and a thanks to the unknown gentleman who rekindled my love of “flying on the ground”.