Haiku My Heart
August 23, 2013
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Author's Note: This is a long post. If you don't want or need to read the history of my motorcycle ownership, skip down to the last couple of paragraphs for the gist of this story. Thanks
|My first bike|
Hard for me to grasp
If you ponder the question
As the photo can attest, I have been riding a bike since I was two years old. My first one was a three wheeled affair, and it was powered by me, myself and I. Fast forward to my first ride on a motorcycle with my Uncle Louie.
|Uncle Louie had one like this, with that big solo seat|
He had a 1958 DuoGlide Harley Davidson in baby blue and chrome. It had a big solo seat, but a 9 year old was able to fit behind him with my legs spread wide apart and my hands gripping his thick wide black leather belt as I reached around his sides.
I tell you, I can still remember that ride. The roar of the pipes. The inertia from the acceleration. The wind through my hair. I knew right then and there that I would someday own a motorcycle.
|Advertisement for a Sears Allstate motorbike|
Right around that time, my brother had a motorcycle in the garage. It just sat there. It was an Allstate, sold by Sears Roebuck. I found out later that my brother had broken the cardinal rule of not giving rides to anyone, and when he had an accident and Jimmy Wilson’s Mom and Dad sued my Dad, that bike got put away and eventually sold. I only remember seeing that bike running one time, coming down the alley to go back in to the garage, then it was gone.
|My Dad on one of Uncle Louie's older Indian motorcycles, circa 1946-47|
I think we were 14 or 15, no one had a drivers license, but there was a place that opened up in the Chicago suburb of Melrose Park that rented these small Bridgestone motorcycles by the hour. They were barely bigger than the modern day mopeds that are on the streets these days.
They had 60cc and a 90 cc for a little bit more money. We would rent bikes for an hour every chance we got. We spent every cent on riding. Renting those little motorbikes is where I cut my teeth, and in 1970, when I returned from Vietnam and got out of the Army, I bought a Gold and White 1970 CB350 Honda.
|Actual photo of my 1970 CB350 Honda motorcycle|
That Honda was my first motorcycle. I got it one day, and the next morning, I rode it to work. I was on Wolf Rd., headed South from 22nd Street through the Forest Preserves. The brake lights of the car in front of me came on and I put that bike into a sideways power slide to keep from hitting it. I went down and scraped my arm pretty good.
No helmet, no riding gear like leather. Ballistic material hadn’t been invented yet. When the woman driving the car in front of me stopped and came back to see if I was all right, I asked her, “Why did you stop in the middle of the road?”
She told me, “There was a duck crossing the road.”
I managed to ride from that incident, in 1970, to 2012 before I’d have another crash. I’d also have a few more motorcycles in between that first Gold and White Honda and today.
I met Mrs. Spadoman in January of 1971, we got married in October of the same year. She was pregnant with our first child and I sold the two-door sport car and motorcycle and bought a station wagon.
That mind set didn’t last long. By 1973 I had a first born daughter that we named Maggie and a 1967 Yamaha 360 DT Enduro.
|1967 Yamaha DT360. I had one like this in 1973|
I rode the Yamaha into the ground and used it to get to work as well as towed it to the motocross track and roughed it up a little.
|Also around 1973, I owned one like this in blue and white|
There was a drought of motorcycle ownership for a while, but I did have a Honda CL450 for a while. I actually burned a piston on that twin cylinder, but got home with only one working. Those old Honda bikes were bulletproof!
|My 1976 Honda CB400F|
I actually owned both of the bikes in the photo above. I originally bought the red one brand new in 1976. My friend Bruce owned the blue one. In the photo, we are packed to the gills headed for Canada. I recall that trip as one of the first long distance motorcycle trips I ever did. Bruce sold his to a friend of mine and i sold my bike. Then, a couple of years later, my friend was selling the blue one and I bought it from him, hence I have owned both of these bikes, at different times.
|Douglass Pass in Colorado with my 1993 Harley Davidson FatBoy|
When we moved to Colorado in the early 1990’s, 1993 to be exact, I bought a new Harley Davidson FatBoy. I was right in the middle of another round of heart attacks, but got the bike anyway. Ownership didn’t last long as feeding the family came first and the luxury of having a brand new $14,000 motorcycle while out of a job because of health issues made me have to sell it.
That was in 1994, I believe, and I didn’t have another chance to get another bike until 2001, when I bought another Honda 750 from a friend. I was going to fix this bike up. It ran, but needed some tires and some tweaking on the engine. Someone came along and wanted to buy it, so I sold it without doing anything to it.
In the late 1990's, I bought a used 1982 Yamaha SR500 Thumper. A Thumper is a single cylinder motor. This was a really great little bike and would most everything that i wanted to do on a motorcycle. Here is an actual photograph of that bike in 2000:
|1982 Yamaha SR500|
Then came the Harley Davidson Sportster 883
|Not much of the bike, but my two oldest Grandkids liked my 2004 Sportster|
In 2004 I bought a new Harley Davidson Sportster. Harley, as do most manufacturers, sell their bikes plain so the buyer will spend oodles of money buying aftermarket doodads and farkles to personalize the bike. I was no exception and bought doodads and farkles for every bike I’ve ever owned.
The Sportster was okay, but I really wanted a Dyna Glide. I had seen one on the showroom floor and returned to the dealership with the Sportster and asked them if I could trade it in. They accepted, and in fact, had a promotion in place to take the smaller less-expensive Sportsters in trade for the bigger bikes.
|My 2004 Dyna Glide Sport at the Delta Diner in the Northwoods of Wisconsin|
I traded the Sporty in on a 2004 fuel injected Dyna Super Glide Sport. I really liked that bike and had it rigged up so I could cruise with it in town, then convert it, via quick release windshield, luggage rack and saddlebags, into a traveling highway bike.
After riding the Dyna for a few years and many thousands of miles, I sold it and bought a bike I had been reading about, the newly designed and engineered Triumph Tiger 1050i with ABS braking system.
|One of my first rides on my 2008 Triumph Tiger|
I put over 30,000 rounds on that Tiger and rode it to the West coast a half dozen times. I had a metamorphosis of a sort and started buying bikes so I would have one for each purpose. My thinking was that if I wanted to go riding on a gravel road and splashing through water-crossings in the mountains, I would need a bike suitable to do so. The Tiger was not the right bike to get the job done.
|2010 BMW G650GS|
So, I bought a 2010 BMW 650gs, a bike to ride on and off road, what they call a dual sport bike in the industry. I didn’t like the way the seat was and the configuration of the bike and gas tank made it impossible to buy a new seat that would satisfy my tastes. Of course I had to ride this bike considerably on and off road to determine that I didn’t like the way the seat was engineered, and I still had the Triumph Tiger.
|1973 Honda CL350|
I also bought another old vintage Honda, a CL350, which is called the Scrambler. I was going to restore this Honda back to original condition and have a collector bike that ran and looked truly vintage.
I sold the BMW and bought a Triumph Scrambler, then sold the Honda so I could have more money to spend on doodads and farkles for the Triumph.
|My 2008 Triumph Scrambler 900|
I rode the Triumph Scrambler for a couple of years and really enjoyed that bike before I sold it and bought another Triumph, but this time, I opted for the Bonneville SE. I rode that SE a lot last Summer. I had some great thrills on that bike as these next two photos can attest:
|Click on this one and check out the speedometer. 105 MPH!|
I also went for a 2005 Moto Guzzi Nevada Classic, but I didn’t like the Guzzi at all and sold it.
|2005 Moto Guzzi Nevada Classic|
Last September I was involved in a wreck and the insurance company totaled the SE. I went without a bike through the Winter of 2012-2013 and in Spring, bought yet another Honda, a 1977 CB500K, and rode that for a while.
|The first 2011 Triumph Bonneville SE|
I wanted another Triumph Bonneville and bought one in April of 2013 and sold the 1977 Honda. I just finished a deal and sold the Triumph Bonneville and I now own no motorcycles.
|My 1977 CB550K Honda|
|The last one, 2011 Triumph Bonneville mag wheel|
So, It is finished. The end of an era. A slow death, if you will, or at least a part of my soul is dead and gone.
I sold the last of my motorcycles and I have hung up my riding boots. The decision was easy to make. Complications from health problems and small ailments all together gave me many reasons to stop. It’s no longer safe for me or the motoring public.
My philosophy is simple. If I can’t do everything that ownership and riding requires, like checking the tire pressure, lubing the chain and checking the oil, then I shouldn’t be riding. Doing any kind of activity that has me bending down, like regular maintenance on the motorcycle, is painful and next to impossible for me. I don’t deserve to ride a motorcycle.
My feet are numb and legs are tingly, a condition called neuropathy, from years of uncontrolled diabetes. Sometimes I can’t feel the shifter on the left or the brake pedal on the right. I take insulin and could go into diabetic shock if my blood glucose levels go too low. I have a heart pacemaker that regulates my heart rate, and although that keeps me from having rapid heart rate episodes, with my heart history, that sucker could go off and defibrillate me at any time. That would, in essence, be like having someone putting their hands on my chest and pushing me off the bike while I’m riding it.
I have congestive heart failure. This causes shortness of breath and fatigue in my muscles. The arthritis in my hands keeps me from having a tight grip on the hand grips, making some quick response maneuvers impossible to perform. The retinopathy in my eyes, also an after effect of the diabetes, makes it hard to see, especially with dark glasses on or at night. Light glares at me, sunlight or headlights. I have hearing loss. I have less than normal flexibility in my joints, especially my neck and I can’t turn my head to the right or left far enough to see the road to either side.
If that isn’t enough, I am on a fixed income and can’t afford bike payments, taking trips or insurance along with the aforementioned doodads and farkles.
There you have it. My motorcycling history, from beginning to end. An end to an era in my life. Am I sad? Yes, very much so. Do I have memories? Yes, very many of them. But I’ll tell you, there is nothing like blasting along a two-lane highway in the dessert at 100 miles per hour, wind in your hair and the telephone poles going by so fast they look like toothpicks.
I will miss riding motorcycles, and I’ll cry when I see others enjoying them. I’ll drool when the new models come out. I’ll imagine what it would be like to swing my leg over the saddle and put one through its paces. I’ll sit with maps and find the roads that will take me there and plan trips that I’ll never be able to take. You bet I’m sad.
Maybe I should be glad that I’m alive. Maybe that’s a good thing, but maybe a small part of us dies every time there is a wholesale change in our lives. I think so, I think this is how we die, losing bits and pieces, a chunk at a time. This is a big chunk.
|Day is done|