Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Keep the Rubber Side Down, Part 1

Late in my high school career I started to dream of owning a motorcycle. Two wheels meant freedom, excitement, danger. It meant breaking away from the mundane. Motorcycles were cool.

My only previous experience with a motorcycle ended with me crashing into a trailer and opening a deep gash on my leg. That incident cost me a week in the hospital and about three months in a splint. I missed the last few weeks of my fourth grade year.

I wasn't going to let that stand in my way.

What did stand in my way was a lack of funds and an inability to save more than two dollars at any given time. My motorcycle dream was on hold.

While I was in the Navy I had subscriptions to a couple of motorcycle magazines. Every month I would devour the descriptions of the newest machines the motorcycle manufacturers offered. Each new model offered incremental improvements that rendered the previous model hopelessly obsolete. I could think of dozens of motorcycles I would like to own.

However, being somewhat intelligent I didn't want to buy the most powerful model for my first bike. I wasn't going to be one of those knuckleheads riding a GSXR 1000 while wearing flip-flops and no helmet. I was going to do it right.

One day I was reading the magazine when I saw the Suzuki Bandit 400. This motorcycle touched something very deep within my soul. It was red. Its tiny four-cylinder motor wasn't hidden by plastic. It revved to 14000 rpm.

It looked awesome.

I'd saved a little money during the Gulf War. I returned to a father happy to have me home and willing to help me buy a motorcycle. We went to our local motorcycle dealer and exercised Pop's credit card. The next day I rode home on my new motorcycle.

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