Man and Machine

Continuing with my “favorite things” thoughts…one big one is definitely my Triumph Bonneville (pictured above). There’s something about motorcycles…man, machine, open road, wind in your face, bugs in your teeth…it’s one of the most liberating feelings.

For several years, I tried substituting this feeling with a convertible Mustang…it just wasn’t the same. My favorite motorcycles are definitely cafe racers (even before they became hipster). It must’ve been the James Dean influence. I don’t even ride hardly at all anymore (yes, the fear has kicked in)…but I still enjoy it nonetheless.

Short story, just to illustrate how utterly clueless I was as a college student. I got my first motorcycle in my junior year at Berkeley, a Honda Shadow cruiser. I found it in Cycle Trader…it was located about 50 miles away from where I was living.

A friend and I drove about an hour to the seller…the bike looked great (I think it cost around a thousand dollars)…and I was sold! I was immediately salivating…imagining riding it home, my first bike.

Right after the cash transaction, the seller says, “do you have a helmet?”

“Nope”, I replied, not really understanding the significance of the question.

“You know it’s illegal and stupid to ride without a helmet right?”

“Oh, yea yea…that’s cool, right after I ride home, I’ll head to the local shop and pick one up. No biggie”

“You’re kidding, right? You have to wear a helmet. No worries, I’ll throw in this old helmet for free”, handing me an old open face silver speckled Bell helmet.

“Sweet! Vintage helmet”, I thought…I’m pretty sure I didn’t verbalize that sentiment.

The seller, an ancient seasoned-looking biker guy, looks me up and down and says, “wait, have you ever ridden a motorcycle before in your life?”

“Nope…is that a problem?”, I replied sheepishly. “My friend talked me through the concepts last night. Seems pretty straightforward…clutch, shift, brakes, lean left, lean right.”

“You are not riding that thing home. I’m gonna ride it home for you, then you can do whatever the hell you want with it.”

In retrospect, that seller saved my life…thanks, ancient biker dude. On another note, I hope my parents aren’t reading this.

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