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.
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.
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.