My introduction to motorcycles was riding on the back of my dad’s 1980’s Honda. I can’t tell you what year or model it was. I do remember my dad taking me and my sister, in turns, on rides through the then country roads around our house in Bennion, UT just outside Salt Lake City. Back then my riding gear was a t-shirt, shorts, sneakers and a purple metal flake helmet that barely fit. I was big enough to reach the pegs from the passenger seat but not tall enough to avoid the pipes. A good number of our weekend rides ended with both my sister and I in the bath tub running cold water over pipe burned patches on the backs of our legs.
My dad bought the Honda after a break from riding for several years. When I was in my teens he would tell me stories about running around in the canyons and fields near Tooele, UT, where he grew up. He had a number of bikes when he was young and spent a lot time fixing their broken parts or recuperating from his broken parts. My grandmother used to tell me she never thought he’d live past 15 the way he tore around on his motorcycles. After having kids and settling into work and family life he decided to get another bike. Unfortunately like many of us life, family, work and in the case of my dad a bad back, caught up with him and he sold the Honda. In all honesty I don’t remember its departure at all. It was there one day and then it wasn’t.
I didn’t think much about motorcycles again until I was in my mid twenties. My sister and I were out of the house on our own and my dad’s work had settled down some. Time to get a new bike. This time he was able to get the bike he had wanted for a long time, a Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic Electrglide. There are few times in my life that I’ve seen my dad happier then when he was riding his Harley.
It wasn’t long before the entire family got excited about the idea of riding motorcycles. Before we knew it dad bought a Suzuki Savage 650 as a learner bike. First my sister learned to ride, then me. Originally the bike was to teach my mother how to ride but she realized early on that the pillion was the place she felt most comfortable. My sister, having earned her motorcycle license, never really caught the bug. I, however, got hooked immediately. So with no home for the Savage, I decided I’d volunteered to take care of it. That was the first of several motorcycles I was to own.
My dad and I went on several rides together. Not nearly enough now that I look back. Our favorite ride was down Rt. 55 to a country store that sold home-made doughnuts. Then it was off to find some country roads and a good lunch. Honestly it really didn’t matter where we went, it was just fun riding.
When I got back into riding I bought a Harley Electraglide too. I’d taken a break for many of the same reasons that my dad had; new family, new house, work, etc. The choice of the Harley was purely an emotional one. When I saw it, I thought of my father who had passed away a few years before. It was a connection to him that I needed to have and so I bought it. The bike was bigger than any I’d ever owned. I really had no business riding it, but I needed it. There were times when I was riding the Harley I imagined I could feel his hands over mine on the grips and sense his smile as we motored through the countryside. I can still feel that now. It’s a large part of what I love about riding.
January 3, 2012 at 4:54 pm
Very well written and moving recollection of how your Dad introduced you to motorcycles. Also, really enjoyed reading about your rides with him when you were old enough to ride on your own.
With thanks to your advice during the summer of 2011, I went on to complete the MSF Basic Rider Course, received my motorcycle license, and recently purchased a used 2009 Honda Rebel–perfect for me as a beginning rider.
I get out and practice every chance I get by riding in my neighborhood and practicing various skills in empty parking lots. The good news is that I have much better control with my right hand than I originally thought I would.
P.S. Thank you for recommending Proficient Motorcycling by David L Hough–it’s a great resource and I checked it out so many times from the Library that I decided to go ahead and buy it.
January 4, 2012 at 2:37 pm
I’m so excited that you are out there and on a bike. I’m also humbled to think that I had anything to do with your becoming a rider. To be totally honest though I’m also ecstatic that I had a part in it. Thank you so much for your thoughts on the post. It felt liberating to write it and I’m glad that it touched someone.
Anytime that you want a practice riding buddy just let me know and I’ll jet right over there.