True story. As parents enter the kindergarten classroom for parent-teacher conferences they pass a wall adorned with pictures drawn by the students depicting what they want to be when they grow up. Surrounded by pictures of policemen, fireman, nurses and doctors is a drawing of a guy with long hair and a beard riding a chopper with extended forks and a tall seat bar extending off the back of the king and queen seat. The description? Motorcycle Man. Yup, I have wanted to be a motorcycle man since I was old enough to know what motorcycles were. I am dating myself but I remember being in the back of a car traveling from Ohio to Missouri where my grandparents lived and during those trips seeing packs of men and women on bikes, all hair and leather and grease and grime. I was enthralled. But thankfully my parents forbade anything more dangerous than a bicycle so it wasn’t until I had moved off to college that I would get a chance to scratch my itch.
So a Yamaha XS 750 Triple was how it all got started. Prior to this, it was just longing and desire. I bought it from a guy for about $400 if memory serves me. I figured that I would either get bikes out of my system or I would be done for life and I guess it was the latter. I had an experience on this bike that might have saved my ass. Prior to plonking down the $400 I had never ridden a motorcycle before, not even a mini bike really. It was about two days after I bought it and I was out on a country road, flying along, having a blast and believe it or not I was belting out ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’ by Bon Jovie at the top of my lungs inside my helmet. You know, ‘I’m a cowboy, on a Steel horse I ride’ – that part. Anyway, I was flying along, not paying attention completely unprepared to handle any situation that might arise when suddenly I noticed, a bit too late, that the road was a much sharper curve than I realised. I hit the front break pretty hard, and I was riding the edge and the wheels slid in some sand on the side of the road and I went down. Went down fast. I ended up on someone’s front lawn with the bike still idling (god those old Japanese bikes could take a beating). I was shook up but no worse for the wear. I had slid on one side and that sleeve of my leather jacket lost the zipper and was scuffed ( I still have the jacket today) but I was wearing a helmet, boots and the leather jacket so I was fine. It scared the shit out of me and I realized how fast things could go wrong. It was a good lesson to learn early on and without too much pain and I think it helped me stay out of too much trouble until I actually knew what the hell I was doing.
Photo Credits-Featured Image Danny Lyons “Crossing The Ohio”