October 19, 2019
We all seem to remember times in our lives whether they be special moments or events that changed us. These moments are typically ones which are the most important to us. Those moments in our lives like learning to ride a bicycle for the first time, our first kiss, and our first heartbreak. For me, memories of my childhood are vague at times, except for those few I listed above and in particular the first time I ever rode on a motorcycle.
Love is the feeling you get when you like something as much as your motorcycle.Hunter S. Thompson
Long before my parents bought me my first dirt bike and my first long distance ride across the country at 16, there is this memory I have of the first time I rode on a motorcycle with my dad. While I was brainstorming and thinking of all the things I wanted to talk about, I have several memories that seem to be seared into one. I know my very first ride was on the Honda Shadow, I do have several others of riding on the Goldwing as well. But this article is about the first time, the first ride, the first exhilarating time I felt the wind on my face and the excitement of it all.
Like just about everything I do, when I find a hobby or something I really like doing, I have to have all the best gear and I have to look the part, whether or not I am any good…it is all about the look! I laugh at how neurotic I can get sometimes from having the perfect running shoes, to the best helmet, or jacket or shirt. For over 40 years, this has never changed, not with any single thing.
So picture me, a snot nosed little 12 year old. I am short with this crazy hair, really big wire framed glasses, and crazy big teeth (braces would come later). I was so excited for that first ride, I had my black “members only” jacket, my white Nike tennis shoes, blue jeans, and this amazing royal blue helmet that sparkled. I can still feel the air on my face and the conversations I had with my father.
Riding the back roads of Michigan, this is where it all began. This is the quintessential moment when I became intoxicated if you will with the thought of this freedom. This single moment in time defined me in a way. I would become obsessed with riding. I believe we were on some two lane road winding through Coloma or possibly Eau Claire, all I can see are the fall colors. The yellows, the oranges, and the reds that made up the tree lines as they outlined the roadside and highlighted the path in front of us. If you have ever smelled fall in Michigan, then you know how the leaves smell, that subtle smell of dirt mixed with a hint of rain and the breeze that never lets you forget either of them. This is my first ride, this is my first experience, this is when I fell in love with my first girlfriend the motorcycle. This one in particular, a 1983 Honda Shadow 750. We took many adventures her and I, a few with dad piloting and a bunch with me at the helm. My Shadow, my sweet, sweet Shadow. We would later go on to places like Canada, Niagara Falls, New York City, Washington, DC, Cape Cod, and Sturgis. She would be a trust worthy old faithful for me, we even rode in the snow once, but that is another story for another time.
For this story is really not even about me. This story, is about my son, Asher and his first ride. While I did feel the need to give you some background context of my first ride, the details are sketchy as I grow older, the roads get longer, the leaves colors get duller, and quite possibly may have tried to crash us a couple times with my arms in the air thinking I was “FREE”. But I do know that ride influenced me beyond what I could have ever imagined.
While I do love ridding my motorcycle, I can tell you, convincing an 11-yr old to ride with you is somewhat of a chore. For a kid who sometimes acts and talks like he is 16, this 11-yr old is stubborn. Leading up to this day, I had asked him numerous times to ride with me. His Grandpa who first took me offered to ride him and all of us take an adventure. But up until this point, he has had every excuse in the book from “I’m scared” to “It’ll be boring” to “I just don’t think I would like it”. So how exactly do you convince a stubborn child to try something, just to see if there is a possibility of doing something fun…well you just take him. One thing I have learned is that Asher tends to not want to ever do anything. He protests and fights us, but when we actually get to what we are doing, he usually ends up having a great time and is very glad he went.
Well, I did it, I signed us up for the 22Kill and Maverick Harley Davidson ride and rally. Having a father who is a veteran, we love supporting causes, especially one like this. If you don’t know who 22Kill is, you should and you need to support the cause.
We were so lucky, the sun was shining on our faces and the temperature was close to 80* and off we went. I told him, the “struggle” of the ride, was going to be the highway riding we had to do in order to get up to Maverick HD in Carrollton. You see we are in south Ft. Worth and the ride was about 40 min of Highway riding. (My least favorite type of riding) But he was a champ, he put in his head phones on and listened to music and he told me he enjoyed the ride.
For a first ride, I know it was not the cool back road driving, curve taking, relaxing excursion, that I love to do, but the best was yet to come. I knew he would love the police escort (okay so they were not actually the police, but they still did a good job). Once we arrived at the dealership, we parked and waited. Killing time was easy, people watching, looking at bikes, and Harley Davidson paraphernalia did the job.
Once we were ready for the actual ride, we got in line, my big American Flag blowing behind us and next to us was Grandpa, with his big Flag and about 800 other motorcycles. We never really went over 45-50 MPH but I thought it was a fun ride. One of the longest escorted rides I have done, it took close to 45 minutes. I am not sure it Ash thought it was cool or not, but I always love it when the highways are cleared off and for about a mile all you can see are bikes on the road.
It was a really good ride, we actually went North on I-35 to Lewisville, where we took 1171 (Main St) into Flower Mound and then down 2499 (Long Prairie Rd) before taking Sandy Lake back to the Dealership.
Here the map of our route:
During our ride I did drop a tiny bit of knowledge on him about hand signals and how to get on and off the bike. I know, but baby steps. I will educate him more on the nuances of riding on the road and how to be the safe rider, but that will come in time. For now all he needs to know is that anytime he wants to go, we can, and we will.
One of my highlights was actually being able to listen to Asher have a good time. He used the GoPro and took video of the ride, took selfies, and even texted his friends during the ride! When we got back, he got his dealership poker chip, we ate, and looked at all of the vendors. Afterwards we hauled butt home and made it before dark. In total we went 122.9 miles for the day. I think I have a new riding buddy, he told me this was better than learning how to drive his dirt bike for the first time…that is a pretty big deal. What I think is even a bigger deal is that the person who was the hero in my first ride, was there again to share in another first ride, this time of his grandson. Hopefully I will get to experience this with Asher and his future children. Until then…the adventure keep rollin’ and with us, it is one mile at a time!