25 August 2008


for the past two days i've been taking the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's basics course, as part of reincorporating the motorcycle endorsement on my driver's license (something i allowed to lapse after i sold my last bike in 1995). the MSF course is highly regarded, both within the biker community and among state law enforcement and licensing agencies. for this rider, it was a reintroduction to exhileration and an exercise in humility. at first it all felt a little shaky, but pretty quickly the flow of coordination and motion returned. i aced the written test, lost a few points on the riding test (rusty skills), but still passed. it is a rigorous and demanding course, so passing feels like a real accomplishment.

no plans to rush out and get a bike right away. here's the history:

my first motorcycle, a lot of machine for a virgin biker, was a used 1963 Triumph Bonneville, 650 cc. it was a classic, both as a street bike and as a racer, and perhaps not coincidentally, was painted in British racing green. if i were to hear one go by today, i would recognize that distinctive sound instantly.

my second was another Triumph Bonneville 650, this one brand new in 1970. mostly the same machine, a little bulkier and more aerodynamic.

my third was a 1982 Honda Silver Wing, the last year they were made in 500 cc. it was a full-dress touring bike, with windshield, full fairings, saddlebags, and interchangable rear seat and trunk. in fair weather tucson, arizona, it was my sole transport for nearly two years, and i loved it. it was also the bike which i was riding during both of my traffic accidents -- in each case a little old lady in a big ol' battleship (caddilac, oldsmobile) made an illegal left turn across my path, causing an unavoidable collision. in each case the bike came to an instant halt, while i went flying in an arc of considerable distance. hospitalization both times. the bike was fixable the first time, but not the second. hence being sold for parts.

my partner at the time, after being called to the hospital and later witnessing my convalescence, told me "the bike goes, or i go." the bike went. what a sad day.

but hey, guess what, she left my life over four years ago. i'm older, but not dead, and i would love to be back in the saddle. maybe next spring i'll try a BMW touring bike. they're mechanically reliable, and sexy looking. i would love to have a partner to ride with, either as a passenger, or on her own bike. i would also love to get together with a small group of biker friends and take day trips.

all in good time. for now, i have the endorsement, and that's all the beginning i need. cheers.

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