Thursday, September 24, 2009

My First Motorcycle

I moved to Boise Idaho in 1968.  WOW, that was a cultural change. After living in the SF Bay Area, Boise seemed like another world.  My United Airlines flight was on an old DC-6 prop plane and the flight attendant said "Welcome to Boise...set your watches back 20 years".  She was correct.  Television went off the air at 10:00 PM, and everything looked OLD.

But, this was an opportunity to start a new career and immerse myself into new business, sports, friends, and adventures. Remember...I was from California and never saw snow fall, never went hunting, and never did anything more exciting then riding my 10 speed bicycle. That was all to change.

Carl's Motorcycle was located near downtown. Being a little bored and thinking this might be fun...I pulled the car into Carl's lot and started for the front door. A big fellow with bib overalls was walking towards me and ask "Are you buying a motorcycle...if you are then buy the biggest one you can afford because some day you will". He was right.

My budget was small and the shop had a sweet little 120 Kawasaki that would ride both on and off the road. After arranging a payment plan with a small down payment...I rode the Kawasaki off the lot. I had no riding lessons, no motorcycle endorsement, no insurance, no helmet, not even a pair of sun glasses. That was all to change since these were safety items that you must have.

Now I had to show my new friends this really cool motorcycle. I rode from Carl's to my local Motorola service shop. While talking to them I gave the kick starter a firm push and the motor came to life. It has a nice rapping noise that sounded like a huge chain saw. Somehow I was not paying attention and the clutch engaged and the next thing I saw was the 120 flying up into the air doing a complete flip. In the process the mirror caught my nose and sliced a small layer of skin off. The blood was not bad but it scarred the crap out of me. No real damage was done and I rode the motorcycle home for the evening. The next day I started riding everywhere. The freeways were a kick in the ass as it would cruise at 60 miles per hour.  The dirt roads were fun (a little scary) and this model had a lever that would put you into trail gears. You guessed it...I hit the trails to see how it worked.

Eventually the little 120cc engine seized up and had to go into the shop for repairs. Carl personally did the work under warranty and I was off for more fun. This time I knew when the engine was getting a little overheated and I would back off and let it cool down.

This bike was wonderful. It gave me freedom, an instant release from the pressure of the job, and a feeling of empowerment. Later, many of my friends would buy the same model Kawasaki and we started doing group rides into the Boise hills and mountains. It was the perfect companion and never let me down after the initial piston problem.

After a couple years or riding, I moved on to that larger motorcycle just as the guy in the bib overalls said. Oh yes...the rides kept getting longer. Some of them were up to 10,000 miles per trip and took me places like the four corners of the United States, across China to Nepal, and into an even larger circle of motorcycle riding friends.

Today my wife Marsha shares the same addiction. This evening she said "let's ride to Spokane before the weather turns cold"...what a gal.

I will never forget my first motorcycle.


  1. I used to ride a 650 Nighthawk in the early 80s. Fun times!

    Thank you for stopping by my blog. I am so pleased you enjoyed my photography.

    Julie Magers Soulen Photography
    Blog of Note

  2. Ah yes...I remember it well. I too have the bug but seems to be a pipe dream. I will keep dreaming.