That summer my family and I spent in Oregon stands to be one of the best summers of my childhood. A repeating lesson that seems true to life is; as high as the highs are, the lows surely follow. As it turned out my mother’s health had taken a turn for the worst. Though the precious time spent with her had been the best time of my life, it all came to a halt one fall day when mom passed. All that’s left is the memories shared and the feelings that you store away in your heart. Most of you reading this story can relate to the passing of a loved one; those of you who can’t, if you live long enough, you will unfortunately experience the same feelings. I chose to include this part of my life in the story because of the profound impact of losing her had on my life. In a way I believe that it pushed me to hold on closer to the people and things I loved…motorcycles being one of them.
I would sometimes get a glimpse of a buddy’s magazine at school of bikes and I was always able to see the ‘hottest’ bikes available. But every day after school it was chores, hunt, fish, and ride. (Not always in that order) It was about this time that no matter what I was doing, I found myself thinking about GIRLS! I just couldn’t get them out of my head. You guys know what I mean. I held on to everything I knew for a couple more years, but after that, I finally quit hunting and fishing. But the bikes and girls stuck around!
I remember having several different bikes after the SL 100. But the one that stands out the most is the Honda CB 350 that my cousin’s husband had. This particular bike had twisted steel chrome rods in place of the rear shocks, a king and queen seat, tall chrome twisted steel backrest, highway pegs, and extended forks that seemed to extend all the way across the county! Just looking at it was enough to get my mind a racing. I think I made about three trips over to see it before I finally decided I needed it and struck a deal. There are some things a guy just knows and he knows it to the point he doesn’t need to ask anybody. This is one of those things I just knew. Much like how your folks don’t tell you the whole story about girls.
I loved this bike and I wasn’t going to walk away again without it. There were two things I knew: #1. I wasn’t going to rest until this bike was mine and #2. Once I did have it, I would be the coolest! That ole’ Honda found its place at my home and turned out to be my first chopper. From then on it was just me and my chopper, and I was on top of the world. In no time I was the envy of all my friends at school and life was just good. In fact, life was very good. . There were a few older guys who were cooler than me at school, but nobody felt cooler than me. I loved the way the straight pipes sounded as I would wind the motor up through the gears every time I took off. I was 15 and that was 34 years ago. When I hear people say that choppers are on the decline, I laugh, because as long as there are people who like cool motorcycles there will always be choppers!
Anyway, I’m having a great time on this bike up until the point where the local cops pull me over. I guess I looked too short to be riding such a big bike. Upon closer inspection of my driver’s license, the cops discovered that I was only valid to ride a bike that was 125cc or smaller until I turned 16. DANG! Once my dad was informed with this info, it was time to sell the bike. It wasn’t long before I had another bike. I had to settle for a CB125. Not as cool as my first chopper, but legal. I hadn’t had a bike for some time and I really needed another bike, so you take what you can get. There used to be a Chevrolet dealer in a little town called Seneca. Turns out, our local Chevy dealer, Johnny had this bike as a trade- in and everybody that knew Johnny, knew he loved horses. I stopped by one day after school and Johnny and I worked out a trade: my horse for his bike. I RIDE AGAIN! The 125 didn’t keep me from being stopped by the local law, but it wouldn’t go fast enough to get me in trouble. To get into trouble with this bike I had to either do donuts on the high school sidewalk, or be seen riding down the football field after school. You do what you gotta do.
My buddy Kyle ended up with a bike just like mine and together, we made a few stories. Kyle and I have been best friends since kindergarten; guess I’m better at keeping friends than bikes. Kyle lives just down the road from me today. He was the best man at my wedding, and I his. He will tell you some of the best times we ever had was riding bikes. I have a few really great friends, but Kyle however, is the only one I rode with, went to school with, chased girls with, went to church with, outrun the law with, and went to jail with! But that’s another story. I will get to that later.