Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Love of My Life

I'm a materialistic pig.

I'm in love with my motorcycle. It won't be mean to me, tell me I'm too fat, sleep with other motorcycles, snore, punch me in the back of the head, what-have-you. Granted, I can't exactly cuddle with it, but that's what those male humans are for...if you can stand the snoring. And phlegm. And pharts (I swear, if you just let me get it out of my system, eventually I will tire of talking about it).

I've been around motorcycles well before I was born. I believe, in my early embryonic stupor, my mother hung on to my dad as they rode around the Midwest on my dad's Harley.

Dad, tallest in back; Mom, blond.

Not as easy as it looks on a Harley.

Post-partum, I was propped in front of and on the bike for photo ops. I don't remember rides on the Harley, but I'm sure there were at least a couple.

After it was stolen from the garage, Pop went without a bike for a number of years.

Eventually, he bought a Yamaha touring cycle, presumably because the birth of me, my brother and our move to the 'burbs from a Chicago neighborhood made a 4K bike seem a lot more plausible than a 10K Harley. I remember a lot of trips to Tastee Freeze three up. My brother was a slip of a child and four years younger, so he fit on the bike between my dad and I. Between my brother and my dad, I figure there's been about 15 motorcycles in our family, starting with that first Harley. Early evidence shows that Tom had no hope of escaping his destiny.

I started getting hooked after a friend of my dad's let me ride his quad ATV around Dad's yard up here in Eau Claire one summer. I never knew how to use a clutch and shifter until I sat on that thing. I can't recommend any better way to learn to ride a motorcycle. Get the shifting thing down first...worry about the balance thing later. A number of years passed after that...I think I was probably around 13 or 14 then. At that time, my brother was already living in Eau Claire with my dad and Tom had a 50cc sportbike. It tops out at about 50 mph and is around the same height as sitting on a toilet. Only fun-er. Another excellent opportunity to learn. Low n' slow...ish.

What REALLY got me in a froth over owning my own bike? Probably around 8-10 years ago, it was like EVERYBODY had one. My cousin, my other cousin, my brother, my brother's friends, my dad, my dad's friends. I was constantly asking my dad to give me rides on the back of his newest Harley. It actually started giving me stomach aches whenever I even so much as heard one.

One of my favorite memories...

Just out of high school, I was still living in the Chicago area and was in the EC visiting my dad and brother for a week or so with my former boyfriend. Dad had just bought a used Softail to hold him until his new bike arrived (yes, a Harley waiting list). He proudly brought it out of the garage and started it up. "Go ahead," and waved toward the bike. I sat down...and rode off. I swear I thought he meant "Go ahead, take it for a spin," but, looking back I suppose it was "Go ahead, have a seat." Either way I can just picture the jaws dropping in the driveway behind me. A couple of rides around the neighborhood and Tom comes zooming up on his sportbike with my Dad on the back, holding a camera. Yeah, just take that in for a second; those two on one bike.

Shortly after that, I received a big 8x10 framed photo of me on the Harley. You'd see it here but I had just covered my hair in Mega-Mega hold hairspray and I looked like Marge Simpson.

* * *
When I moved to Eau Claire late summer 2004, I committed to getting my motorcycle license the following April. Turns out my instructor was Tom's instructor. If you know anything about my brother and his ability to become one with any motorcycle he rides, you can understand why I didn't bring attention to myself.

Until Tom showed up, on motorcycle, to one of my classes. Amazingly, the man still allowed me to pass.

If you ask just about any male around here, my bike isn't even worth their beer money, probably because it's not the fastest around, nor is it sleek, sexy, Japanese, or Italian. As far as speed, it will hold its own, and the throttle responds when I need it to, but it's chunky, industrial, angry and British. Ladies and gentlemen, I present my 2004 Triumph Speed Four, seen below as purchased.

I picked it up in February 2007, an impulsive yet very affordable buy. Much as it reminded me of the "Hollywood Taxi" Bret Michaels (or was it Vince Neil?) tooled around on, the yellow seriously had to go. Luckily, I know a custom painter.

The result:

Ain't love grand?


  1. Wow! Your boyfriend is way cooler than mine. Mine is an iPod.

  2. Crud. MY boyfriend is the dryer. You both win.

  3. Cousin Kuj,
    LOVE the family bike history. WAY too bad we don't have any pics of where it started on your mother's side, which is Grandpa Ratball and his (now classic) Triumph (maybe more than one in fact)??
    I think our father's may have ridden together.
    Wow, all this bike ancestry makes me want to replace my VINTAGE with a newbie. WAIT until you hear what Beef just got, and I mean, you will HEAR it. I didn't want to spoil his surprise but I'm so excited for him!!!!!
    Love, Heb xo

  4. Heb, you just reminded me...I think I actually have a picture packed up somewhere of that.