It Was Too a Motorcycle

My long-time blog buddy and longer time biker-chick, Mary, over at Mary J Melange challenged a few of us to write about cycling this month. The challenge was in retaliation response to my suggestion that this same group publish posts for National Train Day, last month. Mary actually wants to see a bicycle post from me, and she wants it to include a bit of poetry. Seriously, don’t challenge this woman if you aren’t up for some revenge.

Mary is a multi-faceted biker-chick. She pedals her way through some wonderful paths in Wisconsin these days, but earlier, she plied the highways and back roads on a Hog. I decided that I would try to keep up with Mary by posting about my motorcycle days and then, later this month, add the post about my bicycle. Keeping up isn’t the right phrase. I will be outdone by Mary on the motorcycle post.

I will not be merely outdone; I will be quite sincerely outdone.

Where Mary toured the country on a Harley, I – rode – a – Honda – Hawk. I say it like that, Honda Hawk, to distract you from the fact that it was a 400cc motorcycle.

Honda Hawk Ad
Honda Hawk Ad

In fairness to Honda, in 1980, when I bought my Hawk, Harley was suffering with some reliability issues. This was partly because the company that owned them at the time, had previously only manufactured bowling alley equipment.

In fairness to Harley. Many of those AMF-era bikes are still on the road, and they are still Harleys.

In fairness to me, I wasn’t sure I wanted a motorcycle. I wasn’t sure it was a good thing for me to have. I bought the bike because there was little else I could buy that would get me back and forth to work. My ex and I had moved to Seattle, Washington, not knowing much about the effect the failed Supersonic Transport had had on the local economy. One bit of collateral damage was that most banks were sitting on a large inventory of still-financed cars people had walked away from. Stinging from those loans, they would not even take a car loan application if you hadn’t lived and been employed in Washington for at least a year. Whatever I was buying was going to be purchased with cash. I had $2,200, and that wasn’t going to get me much Harley. It actually wasn’t going to get me much Honda.

The $2,200 had to buy the bike, the helmet, the rain suit, ‘cuz Seattle, a better seat than the standard Hawk seat, a rack for the back and pay for the insurance for a year. The Hawk was one of the best rated bikes in its class.

If buying a motorcycle for daily transportation in a climate that sees some amount of rain, almost every day for six or so months out of the year, seemed like a dumb idea, it was, but I was young. I would get dressed in my suit and tie, step into a bright yellow waterproof jumpsuit and head to work. The good news was that work was only 5 miles from our apartment and that rain suit really worked well.

Friday, up through BC to the point where we turn right. Saturday, east and into Idaho. Sunday, mid-way across Washington and home on Monday.

The Pacific Northwest in the early 80s was a good place to ride a motorcycle. You could quickly get to roads in the mountains that were long and winding and where you would only see the occasional car. The longest trip I made was a Memorial Day weekend trip through British Columbia, Canada, into the Idaho panhandle, Spokane, WA, over to Lake Roosevelt behind Grand Coulee Dam and back over the Cascades into Seattle. Camping, riding and adjusting the chain. The Hawk wasn’t a touring bike. That was well over 1,000 miles, and it rained during most of two of the 3 ½ days, but it was so much fun, I’d be tempted to do it again.

I paid to move the bike to Connecticut, but the day it was unpacked, I dumped it in a still sand-covered intersection. Snow, ice and cold winters, sand in the spring, leaves in the fall, potholes and congestion all year long convinced me to sell the bike. I’ve periodically thought about getting another bike, but I’m convinced that it isn’t a good idea in New England. At least not for me.


    1. Thanks! I had a great time on that bike. I’m probably lucky it wasn’t bigger. I’m certainly lucky it wasn’t faster. My friend on that trip was in a bad accident a few months later. That’s when I started to lose interest.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Judy. The photos were given to me by my riding buddy. I wasn’t into photography back then. It’s a shame, there were some beautiful sights in the Pac NW. I’ve been back several times, but in a car.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Dan, I laughed through the first part of your post and seriously smiled through the rest. Excellent post and story of a yellow rainsuit and motorcycle. I remember the ex telling me about AMF Harley and the troubles with the bikes. He used to say, “You could tell where an AMF Harley was parked by the drippings of oil it left behind.” I don’t know if that was the norm or just his experience.

    As for the 400 Honda and rainsuit and riding in the rain, I would say that you were a dedicated biker back then, even if it was out of necessity. I hated driving or riding in the rain, so to spend most of a three-day trip with the rainsuit, and camping no less, was commendable. And the fact that you would do it again is even more commendable (but I wouldn’t recommend it given the warning from the editor). Loved all of the photos, especially the one with you and small Faith. Wonderful response to the challenge!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Mary. I didn’t have a camera back then, but my friend sent me some photos several years after I moved to CT. I found them a couple of weeks ago and figured that was a sign that I should share this for your challenge. I’m glad you enjoyed the intro. Riding in the rain was no fun, but when it wasn’t raining, we were viewing some beautiful country. I should prod my brother to join this challenge. He and his wife had some great bike adventures.

      Faith framed that photo, along with other ‘dad’ moments for me last year. That was such a fun day.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. With the rainsuit and helmet on, you look like a banana flavoured version of Stig. I am in awe of all your motorcycling whatever the ccs because I’ve never ridden so much as a monkey bike. Doing it the rain takes serious dedication. Riding cross country and sleeping in a tent in the rain takes a certain lack of sanity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was a crazy little trip. Both of our wives had more vacation than us poor guys. They went away for a week’s vacation and we decided to find something we could cram into 3 1/2 days. Sore and soggy, but we made it back in one piece. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What happened to the bit of poetry?

    Dan had a rain suit. Dan had a bike.
    Dan did something I don’t like.
    Dan rode a motorcycle in the rain,
    Went on a trip and he’d do it again.
    Dan did a better thing in a later year–
    Played in a puddle with Faith in the gear.

    If you think my POETRY is bad, you should see me try to ride a bicycle.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. I love that poem. I hope Mary counts that as my meeting that part of the challenge :)

      Playing in the puddle was far better than riding in the rain. Thanks for the lovely comment Marian.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great photos of great memories, Dan, it’s so good to have them. We had to swap our bike for a car when our first baby was on the way. The nurses tut-tutted about me arriving for my first hospital appointment with a motorcycle helmet dangling from my arm.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. It was the only option I had. Well, I could also take a bus, but I would get wetter waiting for the bus than I would riding the bike. People at work got used to me coming in in the rainsuit. Actually, I wasn’t the only one. A coworker and I shared a parking space. His suit was bright orange!


  5. “In fairness to me” — I think that was my favorite phrase in this piece, Dan. And a good post, too. I don’t think many of us can resist the pull of the open road, and what better place to see it from than a motorcycle, Honda or otherwise? I can see you now, Easy Rider-ing around that area (more Henry Fonda than Peter Fonda, but still). I didn’t know you’d owned a bike at one point, but I’m beginning to realize you’ve probably done a little bit of everything at some point. Looks like some nice memories in those pics!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Paul – Yeah, more Henry than Peter. It’s hard to look badass when, as one person said above, I looked more like a banana. The road out there was truly open. Here in New England, it’s pretty crowded. I think I would need a much bigger bike just to be seen.

      The guy I took that trip with was kind enough to send me those pictures.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That was nice of him. Gives us some glimpses of the hair you were rocking then! And hey, yellow jumpsuit or no, at least you’ve ridden a bike. I can’t make that claim yet, so my hat is off to you.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! This was well before I tried carrying a camera of any sort. When you think about “sharing photos” back then, it involved ordering an extra set of prints and mailing them to a friend. It was a nice gesture. I was impressed with how these came out. I took a picture of the 35-yr-old prints and did a little processing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, I thought you scanned the originals into your computer.

        That’s what I’ve been doing with my oldies. I never thought to take a photo of the photo.

        I used to order double prints as rule. The second one I could mark up or give away. :) When I print now I order 1 8″x10″ to see how it looks, mark it up, make notes on editing changes I want to make; then if changes need to be made I do that then order another print usually 11″x14″ or 16″x20″.

        I don’t print as much as I used to. Every roll of film I would have developed. Today I print only my top, top favorites. I think I printed 6 images last year. This year only 2 so far.

        There’s probably a better way to do this. I just don’t know it.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. the only scanner I have (that has current drivers) is one that feeds paper/photos through the scan head. It never keeps the photos straight. I’m sure this isn’t the best way to go, but it works for blog posts.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Lois. Riding in the rain, even warm rain, with no rain gear would be miserable, in my opinion. I learned the hard way that that suit leaked at the base of the zipper. If you didn’t fold that part over the right way, the lower half filled with water as you drove. That happened once.


  6. I see other people are writing your poetry for you, Dan. Oh the shame!
    I actually encouraged The Mister to get one when we lived on base. He only worked about 2 miles away, all on post, so it would save fuel and more importantly, leave me the van. I said for commuter purposes only. But he wanted to go gallivanting on civilian roads as well, and I wasn’t up for that. And certainly not for taking the children with him. I remember shouting, “Can you just do one thing, any one thing, that isn’t going to kill you?!?” LOL
    I loved the photos, especially you and Faith in the rain :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mary isn’t counting Marian’s poetry toward the challenge. I though I was off the hook. My brother, who is 4 years older than me, was taking one of his bikes to be repaired so that he might sell it. The brakes hung up and he fell. He messed up a shoulder and some ribs. I think I’ll pass on getting another one in retirement. If I waver, the Mrs. will take care of that idea. I love that photo of me and Faith. I’m glad people like it too. Thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Dan,
    My motorcycle story is not as interesting as yours perhaps, but may be just as revealing; possibly more so. At the age of 14, you were permitted to have a motorcycle of up to 90cc. The Honda 50 was the most popular while the Honda 90 and S90 were the choice of those with money. As I approached my 14th birthday I became progressively delusional, and was convinced that my parents were going to surprise me with a brand new Honda 90. Never mind the fact that my parents had absolutely no money for such follies and completely detested motorcycles of a type. I was convinced that on June 1 there would be a shiny new Honda 90 sitting in the driveway.

    Well, June 1 came and went and as you have already suspected there was no motorcycle. I learned that is good to be hopeful and to have a positive outlook as long as you keep the delusional optimism at a reasonable level.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. That may have worked in your favor. If I had had a 90cc bike under me at 14, I might not have made it to see 15. Waiting for something you’re sure is coming can lead to deep disappointment. The miracle of hope. Thanks!


  8. Aww, Dan! Another side of our favorite man/ friend. I like the father and daughter yellow slickers’ photograph. I like the “over my dead body” comment from your dear wife. (I agree, from afar, as a good friend who values your life.)
    The story of how you could only afford a Honda Hawk reminds me of how I ended up with a variety of vehicles and household items.
    Your long trip of 1000 miles, up and around the Pacific Northwest covering U.S. and part of Canada and back home, sounded very exhilarating, Dan. How it must have felt being young, carefree and damp! Ha ha ha!
    You answered Biker Chick Mary’s request very well. You aren’t a short essay or multiple choice writer, you give the full essay which we all enjoy! :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Robin. I still have to cover the poem, which I struggle with, but I think I can satisfy the requirements before the month is over. The ride through the mountains of Washington and Canada remains a very special memory. It’s from a time in my life I don’t write about in depth, I just hit the high points. The photo with Faith is a favorite, and I appreciate the comments from my wife. I think she wants to keep me safe (or save me from myself).


  9. Faith is adorable in that raincoat, Dan. As you can likely tell from my motorcycle-related pins on Pinterest, I’ve always had a love of bikes myself. From the time I was old enough to walk, my dad would take me riding. He has a number of bikes, but it was the 500 Honda dirt bike that we tooled around on. No street driving, though. All through the bush and on trails, etc. There’s a gravel pit just across the road, and at the time, it wasn’t in use. Made for great adventures on the bike! He even made me my own mini set of handlebars and foot pegs so I could sit in front of him, making it impossible for me to fall off.

    My dad is old enough to have been into bikes in their real heyday — late ’60s, early ’70s. He’s always disliked Harleys, instead favouring the British bikes. He chopped his 1970 Triumph and was known all over the North for his mechanical skills.

    He doesn’t ride anymore, but that’s mostly because the Triumph has spent the last 16 years on display in the living room!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Triumph’s were also “real” bikes. I remember riding with a friend who had one. We stopped for gas and some guys pulled in on Harleys. They talked to him, but sort of ignored me. That’s cool that he made you bars and foot pegs :) I’m trying to imagine you going up and down the hills. that must have been fun.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Great post and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the photos. Faith is super cute in her yellow raincoat. I can’t believe it’s you in that yellow raincoat. I was smiling all along. By the way, you have become handsome with age I must say.

    Liked by 1 person

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