School is such a time killer for young boys who can only think about cars, bikes and girls. It seemed like the best part of school is that it provided a place to get off the farm and hang out with friends and girls! Being the independent young man I was, I liked riding the bike to school. The bonus to this, besides looking cool and all, was if I rode my bike it only took me twelve minutes to get to school and back. The bus ride took one hour to school and one hour from school get home. Do the math.
My dad and I had a deal worked out that if the temperature was 40 degrees or above, I was free to ride my bike to school. From where we sat at the breakfast table the thermometer could easily be seen on a post out the patio window. It was here I would sit eating breakfast until I heard the porch door at the back of the house screech open. That sound would be dad coming in from the morning milking. From the time I head the sound of the door until dad walked into the kitchen was about 90 seconds. This small window of time while he was taking off his boots, coveralls, hat, and gloves gave me more than enough time to slide the glass patio door open *quietly*. I would slip over to the post where the thermometer hung and breathe on it until it got up to 60 degrees or so. Then, I would slip back inside the kitchen where I sat eating my breakfast until dad walked in.
I would visit with him while being mindful of the temperature outside. Then, just when I saw that the temp was above 40, I would jump up from the table and mention that I was riding the bike to school that day. Immediately, my dad’s glance would go to the thermometer, and seeing it was just above 40, he would forgo a would-be argument and agree to me riding to school. I don’t remember it ever being too cold to ride to school. And that was one sweet deal.
Over the years I’ve been told that I always take things too far, so it wasn’t a big surprise when one morning this little trick failed me. Turns out, Dad just couldn’t believe the temp had warmed up to 40 when only an hour and a half sooner it was 18 degrees and he was busting ice in the pond for the cattle.. It was almost as though God was telling him everything I was up to. The good thing about my father being smart is that it helps shape your wits! I remember that if I had a story to tell him, I had better not stutter or that was it!
As soon as I got the chance I traded the 125 for a Honda 200T. After I cut the tailpipes off and replaced them with a short piece of chrome pipe I found in the closet, it sounded pretty good! It sounded like my 350 chopper but just a little less cool. I didn’t realize my step mom would pitch such a fit over that Kirby vacuum tube I made my new pipes out of! I would have offered to put it back in the closet but I had already hack-sawed it into two pieces and welded it up to my bike.
I wasn’t worried about riding a 200cc instead of the 125 allowed by law because I would be turning 16 before too long. Then, I would be able to ride as big a bike as I could afford. Turns out, that 200cc was as big as I could afford for some time.
And so here is what I learned from 14 to 16 years of age.
#1 Life doesn’t last forever, if there is something you want to do, do it first.
#2 Cops always stop short bike riders
#3 With bikes, it’s hard to step down in size. There seems to be a lifelong progression for bigger & faster.
#4 Don’t get caught with tobacco or beer behind the barn. Dad doesn’t like that stuff.
#5 If you get into trouble every time you turn around, stop turning around!