Thursday, August 22, 2013

Last Tango, the Death of an Era

Haiku My Heart
August 23, 2013

We meet and greet each other every Friday here and on other pages for Haiku My Heart. See more and find out how you can participate at Rebecca's recuerda mi corozon

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

No motorcycle?

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



Fallingladies said...

Well, i am sad you are feeling so sad, it is so hard to accept what IS when it's less than what we want! I have never ridden a motorcycle nor do i really want to, but i understand about giving things up.... not easy....

Jean said...

I don't think you can use the phrase "I don't deserve to ride a motorcycle" as if you were intentionally neglectful of the responsibilities involved. You have outlived your ability. And that's pretty awesome really, if sad.

As much as I've never owned a bike and became a little wary of them when my brother had an accident, I really did love riding on the back when I was young and can understand the allure. A car is comparatively cumbersome - not nearly the same sense of freedom as you accelerate down the road.

It's hard to give up things you love. The cumulative effects of age, our experiences and lifestyle can be cruel. Your reward for surviving so long is pain and decreptitude.

But you have your memories. Re-live them.

Anonymous said...

Oh I mourn with you Spadoman! Your lifetime romance with the bike, the road, the roar, the wind and all that goes with it has been a whirlwind affair! And the end of this era symbolizes so much for you. You are so right that a small part of us dies every time there is a change in our lives. This is how we must LIVE, losing bits and pieces, a chunk at a time! Peace! I hope you can find a way to still feel the wind!

Anonymous said...

Yes, having trouble myself right now ~ 'accepting what is' ~ Yet your photos show such wonderful memories and a well lived life thus far ~ thanks for sharing you ~ carol, xo

Anonymous said...

'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.'

Adrenaline superman, you lived life to the fullest. You celebrated life in this special way and that makes it all worth it. Your many ailments are all part of life and I am happy you bear them well. Much respect, Sir.

somepinkflowers said...

oh dear joe
sadness & wisdom ...

looked at pros & cons
you decided
& now
for the next life adventure

{{ there could be
~~a duck crossing the road~~
for any of us

good grief !! }}

Stephanie said...

What a sad love story Joe...

I guess we will all be faced with hard decisions in life, you gave up your love but I do hope in time you will find happiness in the memories, perhaps find something else to give you such joy.

thank you for sharing this

Anonymous said...

But this is also how we live fully - in gratitude and awareness for the pleasures we have experienced. Your post is filled with awareness - which is not always sweet, but - as you have shown - is enriching. Thank you for sharing your joys and your sadness - I hope new joys come your way soon, as in the ebb and flow.

Lea said...

You are a motorcycle cowboy. These machines are a part of your soul, your body, your psyche. I ache for you... for it is a death. I grasp this dance with every breath you take from that first three wheeled drive all through your life until now... may the winds blow forever more through your being, your words and your memories that live on in us all...

Much love.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Joe for your prayers ~ much appreciated and know they will work ~ lots hugs to you ~ carol, xo

gma said...

Think of all the cool things you still can do Joe. Life is good! To everything there is a season.... Great that you honor your love for motorcycles here on haiku My heart....we feel ya brother.

foxysue said...

My dearest Joe what can I say?

Just this ~

May you dream every night in full colour your trips along the desert highway, 'telegraph posts going by like toothpicks', wind rushing through your hair and the wonderful feelings that have been yours!

Hugs Ms Foxy

PS Nothing is lost it is all still a part of you....

Nonnie said...

I know only the joy of riding on the back of two of my sons' bikes. The youngest has not replaced the Harley that ended up beneath the car of a young woman's who had hit him. I could only imagine my horror if I'd be present at the scene. Apparently my husband had only driven fast cars. Once we met and started dating, speed went away.
I grieve with you your mournful loss of adventure on a bike, but memories are powerful. I hope that they will be enough for you.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I think you are a hero by not getting out there and endangering others even though the love of your life is calling, tempting you. Beautiful memories for you, especially when the wind blows.

Mark said...

Joe, thank you for sharing this story. I have to admit that the ending shocked me, but I applaud you for your wise (albeit painful) decision. Something tells me that you will be writing Haiku of the Road for many years to come!

My Lady Wisdom

Mel said...

First we grieve, yaknow? Any time there's a loss...and this is a biggie for you, as evidenced by that long standing history...we grieve.
It's undoubtedly the responsible thing to do--I'd argue that you 'didn't deserve to ride'. For your safety, for the safety of's the responsible thing to do.
But I'm clear this isn't solely about motorcycles. Leastwise it wasn't for me. It's about limitations that we outrun until we can't anymore. It's about getting to look at the realities of where our feet are today, and the part we played in arriving here...the good and the ugly. And it's about our own mortality, as you pointed out.
And that's an onion that has layers....

susan said...

You were, are and always will be a Warrior, Joe. Your decision has been a hard one, but there's no shame in taking your place with the Elders.

Mel's words are most wise.

deb did it said...

oh Joe.
My heart has cracked wide open for you.
May you always hold onto these precious memories of the open road and continue to be a warrior in other ways that allow your mind to be free. You are wise and brave. Thank you for sharing all of yourself here with us.
Peace, love and light.

Dawn Elliott said...

Giving up chunks of our lives is a drag...and it's obvious that this is huge. Maybe that is the way we slowly die...but I prefer to think that we continue to add things to our lives, as well. You have quite a history, to say the least...and I know that you're grateful for all the miles you put in and the endless memories you have. Crying and drooling seem heartily appropriate, 'cuz you can take the man off the motorcycle, but you can't take the motorcycle out of the man!

Anonymous said...

Hang on to those memories...

Unknown said...

I used to have blocks on my pedals too...
I am sorry you are down,
but it won't last long,
you will find another,
safer hobby.
That's an exciting thought isn't it?

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

The best way to ponder the question may be to not ponder it at all...

Haiku My Heart Broken Things

Laura said...

I'm glad you made this wise decision. Life, as you well know my friend is so very precious.

Unknown said...

Joe, like the others I feel for you as well as applaud your decision. Walking away on your own terms rather than being forced out is a great accomplishment. Stay well and true to yourself my friend. Jim