Friday, May 7, 2010

12 years and 12 days - A Self Indulgent Ride Down Memory Lane

Friday, May 7th, 2010 marks 12 years and 12 days since I rode home on my first motorcycle.

1986 Yamaha Radian

I remember parts of that ride in 1998 quite clearly.  Most notably I remember riding home down Meridian Ave. singing at the top of my lungs, I was so excited and happy.  I  was just making up songs and lyrics as I rode and singing to the inside of my helmet.  At stop lights I was practically dancing on my bike looking around and belting out verse with a smile so big people must have seen it coming out of my helmet.

Just a couple of months later I was on that bike riding, with Nathan on his first bike, a 1986 Suzuki GSXR1100, to Corvallis, Oregon to visit Dan and Kim in their new home.  I assure you neither of those  bikes were designed for a 600 plus mile each way road trip but we loved it!  Our butts?  They were tired.  I remember us lying down in a parking space at a fast food restaurant just to rest our butts and stretch our bodies on the way there.  By the way, we also learned there that motorcycles do not trigger the sensor to let someone know you are in the drive through.  I have clear memories of a gorgeous ride and of Mt. Shasta looking beautiful, of a tired butt, of walking around Corvallis with the Vega family the next day, enjoying the sites, driving mountain roads in the dark and wishing I had more lights, being covered in little green bugs going through an agricultural area in California, and feeling immensely satisfied from a long ride when we got home.  

I loved to ride that Radian.  I took apart the motor and replaced the rings and pistons and put it back together in my Grandma's back yard.  I was so nervous to start it back up when the day arrived.  What if it didn't work?  It did.  I rode down to my local motorcycle shop and asked Pete, who had given me so much free advice along the way, to check out my work and tell me what he thought and to tell me if it was safe.  Pete said it looked good and he was impressed.  That meant a lot to me.  It really did.  I had never taken a motor apart before and I respected this guys opinion and was grateful for all the free advice he was giving me patiently while he had a shop to run for paying customers.  His being impressed was the best stamp of approval I could get on that project.  The bike not blowing up as I rode made me feel pretty good, too.  Eventually I sold that Radian to Don to become his first motorcycle.

1998 Kawasaki KLR650

I was going to San Jose State University when I sold the Radian and purchased my KLR 650.  I believe it was the year 2000.  I loved having the water proof hard luggage to carry my books as I didn't have a car and rode all year to school and work in all weather.  I found the bike on craigslist.org and went to check it out.  Riza, the seller, was such a cool guy.  After checking it out and going home to think about it, I arranged with Riza to go to his house the next day to purchase it.  I expected to hand over money and take a pink slip but Riza was different.  I suppose being from Turkey had something to do with his way of interacting.  He invited me into his home where we sat and ate chocolates and sipped coffee talking for an hour.  I loved it.  The guy was so interesting and so I took the KLR and Riza's phone number.  By that summer, not only had we gone on several rides together and become friends, but we decided to spend a week camping off of our motorcycles and riding in Baja California, Mexico together; me on the KLR and he on his BMW 1100GS.  I have such fond memories of that ride and my time with Riza.  I am sad to say that the number and email I have for Riza no longer work.  Riza, if you find this, please leave a comment and let me know how to contact you!  

That KLR and I got to know each other very well over the years.  I did eventually sell that bike to Don in 2004 to be his second motorcycle, but we are  still close to this day as you will see below.

1996 Honda Goldwing

Oh, Big Blue!  That's what was painted on the back, "Big Blue" so I knew this bike's name before I bought it in 2002.  This was the smoothest and most comfortable motorcycle I could ever imagine riding.  Tami and took a ride to go camping on this to King's Canyon National Park back when we were friends.  That was the longest ride I had gone on with a passenger at that time.  Our time together, me and Big Blue, was not long, however.  Big Blue and the KLR were sold, along with my car and bicycle and so many other things, in 2004 as part of a strategic and ambitious financial plan.  That worked out pretty well and started the only stretch of time that I did not own a motorcycle since April 25, 1998.  It was only a couple of months, thankfully.

1986 Yamaha Radian

 I was feeling nostalgic and found another '86 Radian on craigslist.org that summer of 2004.  We had a good time together.  It was a brief affair of only a couple months, however.  "Ruby" was backed into, while parked, by a crazy driver.  "Ruby" was totaled but I used the insurance money to buy back an old motorcycle love.

1998 Kawasaki KLR650

That Fall of 2004 Don sold me back my same KLR.  I missed her and she had always been good to me. We spent a lot of time riding the old roads and a few new ones.  It was like we had never been parted.  In 2009 I sold this lovely machine to Sam to be his first bike.  He still let's me ride the KLR and I can see her some days as I drive by his house to or from work.

1999 Honda Valkyrie Interstate

In 2006, surfing the internet I came across this rare beauty.  The Valkyrie Interstate.  Honda had taken the superb Goldwing and made it look like a cool cruiser that they called the Valkyrie.  Then, they made the Interstate model which added back in some of the cool Goldwing features that had been removed in the conversion to a Valkyrie cruiser.  This meant that the Interstate model got back the stereo, intercom, CB option, auxiliary audio plug in and three integrated and watertight bags for for luggage.  A brilliant bike.  Tami and I took "Val" on a very memorable two week camping road trip to Canada that same Summer of '06.  This is the bike that I took cross country in 2009.  What a fantastic motorcycle.  Maybe I'll take Val out for a ride tomorrow.

2002 Honda RC51

 For my birthday in 2009, my friends Matt, Mitra, Nathan, and Laurie surprised me with this beauty of a motorcycle gift.  The RC51 is such a smooth and impressive machine.  Maybe if we spend 10 years together I will become half as capable at sport riding as this bike is capable of being ridden.  Fantastic, beautiful, impractical, bold sounding, precise turning, instantly stopping, magnificently quick and always fun.  Hmmmm.  Maybe this is the bike I should ride tomorrow.

There are so many other motorcycles that have affected my motorcycle adventure over the years.  So many I have seen, or touched, or ridden that were not "mine."  I've been lucky that way.  But these are those bikes whose maintenance, enjoyment, and preservation were my responsibility for at least a portion of history.  I would say I've done a pretty good job of protecting them and enjoying them while they were in my care these 12 years and 12 days as a motorcycle lover, addict, protector, dreamer, enjoyer.

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