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My first motorbike (scooter) was a Cushman Eagle passed down from father to son when my dad moved up to a new Police Indian as part of his duties as Constable for the small town in SE Kansas where I grew up (don’t tell my grandkids, but back in those days you could get your driver’s license at only 14 years of age; to and from school, dawn to dusk, family errands – and everything was a family errand).
During High School I moved up to my first “real” motorcycle, a Honda S90 (that also happened to be the year Brian Wilson wrote; “Little Honda” and I was hooked on having a full range of gears; 1st Gear, it’s all right, 2nd Gear, lean right, 3rd Gear, hang on tight, Faster, it’s all right). Remember?
My military service took me to the UK and other parts of Europe where just about everyone I knew rode a BSA or Triumph. Being a bit restricted, our commander limited us to 350cc’s so I was not able to join any of the weekend rides for the first few months I was on station. Then, fortunately for me a friend with new orders for SE Asia sold me his 59’ Royal Enfield Clipper 350cc “thumper” for $100 which at the time I thought was the purchase of a life-time. Although still a chrome-polished beauty beholding to one’s eye, the mechanicals and electricals were far from reliable and I spent hours in the motor pool fixing one thing after another. Needless to say, this put me off motorcycles for a few years and my interests changed to sports cars and road rally’s.
After my return state-side I once again discovered the joy of motorcycles when I purchased a new Honda 350CL. Over the next few years I moved up through the models; CB500, 750F and 1000CB) until I discovered the joy of riding my first Enduro, the 500XL. As my kids grew to riding age we added a couple of Yamahas (250DT, MX100) and we still have a “pristine – vintage” Honda Z50R purchased new in 1979 when my youngest son turned 4 years old.
Through the 80’s and 90’s I owned a lot of various brands & models until I rode my first BMW. I was stuck one HOT August afternoon in Belle Fourche, South Dakota on my vapor locked “cruiser”, when a guy pulled into my rest stop with a R1100RT and a FOR SALE sign posted on the lower part of the windscreen. Trusting old sole, he let me take it down the highway a bit and that was my first experience with; “The Ultimate Riding Machine”. Once I returned home I went on the internet and discovered that a nearby BMW dealer listed their 2002 R1150RT “demo” FOR SALE (only 3,200 miles), so I called and luckily for me the dealer was ready to sell and accepted my ridiculous offer. That weekend I flew to Denver where the dealer picked me up at the airport and I rode my new ride home through some of most beautiful fall scenery between Denver and Salt Lake City.
After adding over 78,000 miles to the clock I found myself no longer comfortable with the weight of the RT so today I ride a light weight yet powerful 2010 F650GS Twin. Although my GS doesn’t have the wind protection of an RT, being able to navigate the backcountry roads of America (paved or dirt are okay with me) and it puts a smile on my face that sometimes lasts for days on end.