Motorcycles are dangerous.
I believed that to be true almost my whole life. My best friends that I grew up with in high school either ride motorcycles now or used to. One of them even started riding our sophomore year after his driver’s license was suspended for too many speeding tickets. When you’re in high school, you do everything your friends do right? Not me, motorcycles are too dangerous I’d say! I tried driving a scooter in college when I went to Taiwan for vacation. In Asia it’s not uncommon to drive a scooter. Moms and little girls drive scooters with ease every day. Not me. I crashed my scooter into a parked car the instant I got on throttle. I don’t know what happened. It got away from me and there I went, into a Toyota Camry driver side door.
After college I started working full time and somehow or another I discovered auto racing. Nothing serious, just the weekend club stuff. I became less of a stranger to speed. In fact, I became chummy with my new friend speed and forgot all about smashing into that Toyota Camry. It was good fun and I did that for a couple of years.
January 24, 2009 Buttonwillow Raceway
At the time I was in a serious relationship with the most amazing woman and as it would turn out she knew me better than I knew myself.
“Would you ever get a motorcycle?”
“No, they’re quite dangerous.”
She didn’t believe me and I didn’t know why. A year later, I had a room mate who rode an older Honda 600cc sport bike. It was supposed to be outdated machinery, much slower than what was being sold in dealerships at the time. Out of the blue I became curious and asked him to give me a glimpse of what it’s like. Curiosity killed the cat they say. I hopped on the pillion and he gave it a pretty good twist through first gear. I was still young and dumb so I didn’t bother to put on a helmet. After all, we were just in the parking lot, how fast could we really go? Let me tell you, the wind and the speed was so intense I started to drool and the wind smeared my own drool across my face. I couldn’t believe that kind of speed was even possible and that was slow as far as bikes were concerned.
If that wasn’t enough closure, a couple more years passed and I sat on another friend’s bike, naturally, out of the blue. We’d just spent the day karting at Autoclub Speedway in Fontana. Karts are fun, they navigate corners with incredible precision and even the average kart raced by teenagers can accelerate faster than most high power sports cars. But never mind the kart, I sat on the bike, and I was so lost. I didn’t know how to operate the thing.
October 9, 2011
My friend explained it all to me, and it was lengthy. I remember thinking to myself, “This is hard. I’ll stick to karts.” Now I’m trying to pinpoint exactly how this all changed. Obviously at some point, I actually ride one of these things and I have this epiphany that I’ve been doing it all wrong my whole life like I should’ve been riding motorcycles since the day baby me could twist my wrist. Maybe the fear evolved. Perhaps my idea of what danger was shifted from being universal and absolute to a question more focused on my own limitations. Could I operate one these things skillfully? At the time I didn’t think so, and then I did this.
Something about jumping out of a perfectly good plane and seeing the world at 12,000 feet in the air changes you. I can’t even imagine what it must like to be an astronaut, or Felix Baumgartner.
October 27, 2012
Less than a month later, I rode a motorcycle for the very first time at a beginner course with the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. It was a 20 horsepower 234cc Honda Nighthawk. By far the slowest bike I’ve ever ridden to date, but at the time, I thought it was best bike in the world. I was 29 years old. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. I’ve found so much happiness from this very simple activity. That lovely woman that asked me if I would one day ride a motorcycle? I married her. At this point you might say, “You tricked me, this isn’t about motorcycles at all but some roundabout love story!”
Well you’re right, it’s about love, but truly a love for motorcycles nurtured by the love of my life. Double win! With the end of my short story I hope to write more soon, which I intend to be motorcycle stories from start to finish unlike this one. But in the meantime, I hope I entertained you and if there’s anything to takeaway from my anecodte, I would say to not be afraid to pour fuel on that fire that is your curiosity. Life is so full of wonders, you must seek them out. Cheers!