Under the same sky, riding the same roads, out on a bike with my knees in the breeze, this is why I first ever wanted a motorcycle.
What’s that about? Well here I want to share a story. It can’t be really unique, but is certainly personal. I hope other riders out there that relate, will chime in with their thoughts as well.
When I was four years old, my Dad drowned while having a fun day out on the river with his friends. He was a big, laughing, over-the-top fun lover, and his loss really shook the lives of not only myself, but all of his family, and friends too…
As those of you know, who’ve grown up without one of your parents, the dynamics and conversations that do or don’t happen, are not quite the Beaver Cleaver model. We certainly had our share of dysfunction and fights, deep hurt and one big hairy elephant in the room. No one ever talked about my Dad.
As a product of this tragedy in our family, He was a subject and issue that was rarely mentioned, usually only during a real bad fight. Because of this, I really grew up without knowing much about him at all. Sometimes I wondered if there was some big secret that everyone else knew, but didn’t want to share. Actually, I think they all missed him so much, it was just too hard to talk about.
One thing that I had a vague recollection of, was that he had Motorcycles. Since I was four when he passed, I really didn’t remember riding with him, although it turns out I did. I really didn’t even see pictures of his bikes till I was 18 or so. I just had an awareness that motorcycles and my Dad went together.
It really wasn’t ever a question in my mind growing up, I just always knew, that as soon as I was able to, I was buying a motorcycle.
On my high school graduation day, another family member gave me a picture of him and I together on his white Moto-Guzzi and I had a hell-of-a-time keeping my composure. It was the first picture that I had, of him and I together, and it was a classic! It may have been that gift that steeled my resolve for bike shopping.
That summer, I was 18 years old, and spent a couple months looking out for a bike. A friend of a friend was getting married and needed to sell his Honda 500 Ascot. I had $700 in hand and all of sudden, I was finally a motorcycle owner! I’m not sure I really cleared this with my parents (Mom and Step-Dad), who I still lived with at the time, but I know there was some skepticism, about me riding out on the road on two-wheels.
I had grown up with four-wheelers/ATV’s, but this was my first real two-wheeled experience.
I remember clearly a conversation with my Mom about owning a motorcycle. Something was brought up about why I “Needed” a bike.
That was when the truth finally came out.
It was all about my Dad. I didn’t need a bike, I needed to feel a connection and have something real in my life, that I knew he loved in his.
I just wanted to feel that when I was out riding, in the same places that I knew he probably rode too, that I could feel that his spirit was with me, as I was enjoying the same blue sky, the same strips of road, the same love of motorcycling.
I’ve owned bikes ever since my first Honda 500.
I’ve continued to feel a great kinship and spirit from my Dad, who I’m sure has been riding along with me on every trip.
One ride stands out in my mind clear as a bell. Several years ago, my buddies and I were out on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. The weather was perfect, we’d had a good few hours in of back-roads and stops for refreshments here and there. We were crossing the dam of one of our local lakes, and off to my right, just adjacent to our road, was a hawk, flying in-line with us. He wasn’t swooping by, or crossing our path, he was just cruising along, as if he was another member of our crew.
For some reason, it was only at that moment, that I realized what the date was. May 21st. The same day that years ago was a beautiful Saturday afternoon when my Dad was out with his friends, and never made it home.
Sometimes when you’re out for a ride, you just know that there is something bigger, more powerful than yourself and your two cylinders getting you safely down the road.
Thanks Dad, Love Ya.
Sincerely, Your Son.