Motorcycles
Michael Ellis

When I got just old enough I did two things that my mother would not allow. I parachuted out of an airplane and I bought a motorcycle. Unfortunately for me in the I-told-you-so department, I broke my leg on my first and only jump. I still have three screws to prove it in my right ankle. But I owned a half a dozen motorcycles over the next 15 years and had nary a scratch. In 1985 when I found out that we had a baby on the way I decided to sell my last motorcycle. It was one thing to be responsible for just yourself and quite another to have a child who depends on you for everything. Goodbye motorcycles, hello adulthood.

Now that my son is more or less grown up and on his own I began to have fantasies about buying another bike. Forget the classic sound of a Harley; there was nothing sweeter to my ears than the powerful rumble my 1968 Triumph Bonneville 650. There are a few of you out there who will know exactly what I am talking about.

So the other day when I saw a 2005 Triumph Bonneville for sale on a side street I decided it was time to hop back in the saddle. My wife was supportive and so we went together for a test ride. I had not been on a motorcycle in years and was really looking forward to sparking that open-road feeling again.

First thing I noticed upon cranking it up was the sound was not the same. California smog and muffler laws had taken care of that! But off we went through busy roads, stoplights, and finally up on a curvy country road.

Well that mid-life fantasy was thoroughly and completely burst. I did not like that ride and neither did my wife. The bike was too heavy and unwieldy. There were drivers talking on cell phones and slippery Eucalyptus leaves on the road. I was intensely aware that there was very little between that hard pavement and us.

Things both inside me and outside in that larger world had really changed in the past 25 years. I lost that immortal feeling I used to have while riding. I felt extremely vulnerable; the world seemed a more dangerous place.

We both realized with some relief that we are most content with mountain biking as our standard of dangerous activity and that just about as fast as we want to go on two wheels.

This is Michael Ellis with a Perspective.

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Skills

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December 1, 2010