536: That's what my odometer read on the way to the bus stop this morning. It was a rainy 45 degrees. And I was on my motorcycle. My motorcycle! The 536 miles represented not only the miles I put on my bike, but also the total number of biker miles I had under my leather boots. It was the first time in a week I had my bike out and, even though it was a short ride in uncomfortable weather, it felt good. Almost a Zen-like experience.
My adventure in biking began as an innocuous conversation with some friends. The husband had just bought a scooter and was telling my wife and me the benefits of such a purchase. Later, after the dishes were cleared and Jo and I were lying in bed I asked her what she thought of me getting a scooter. She said, 'You're too big for a scooter; you'd look like a dork—why not just buy a motorcycle?’
Now--stop everything and reread that last sentence. My wife had just suggested I buy a motorcycle---nay, not just suggested but encouraged the purchase! This was one of those moments when a husband can respond with a wimpy 'do you really think so, honey?' Or the more positive assumptive 'I think I'll look in to that.' My response was a bit more enthusiastic: "Hell yeah! Tony's getting a motorcycle.' I don't recall if I did the nerd-guy dance of victory or not, but I did make a mental note to buy Ryan of the scooter a drink next time I saw him.
Understand that I have wanted a motorcycle since my 20s, but some aspect of responsibility, flawed fiscal planning, or just Jo's cautious admonition stayed my hand. This night it was as if everything lined up correctly and the gods of the steel horse were smiling on me in all their chrome and leather omniscience.
The next day I contacted several friends who have been riding motorcycles for years to get their opinions on brand, style, size, type. I felt like Ralphie talking about his BB gun. The advice I received varied from start out with 600 to 'you'll want at least a 1300 on those Atlanta interstates.' Shadows and Triumphs seemed to come up often as suggested brands, with several friends recommending Harley with an almost religious fervor and others just as adamant anti-Harley acolytes. It was during these conversations that I learned bikers are kinda nerds too. Sure, it wasn't Batman versus Iron Man fandoms, (Iron Man, obviously), but Harley Davidson versus the world. At this stage I hadn't even sat on a bike since my 20s, but I was collecting a metric ton of facts, opinions and just plain silliness. What did become clear, however, was that there is infinitely more to consider when buying a bike than when buying a car. Either way, the adventure was about to begin.
Next time: Miles 0-60 or What the Full Throttle was I Thinking?