In 1994, I got the big idea to ride a motorcycle to California for my good friend Lew's wedding. The big problem was that I didn't own a motorcycle. I bought a 1976 Honda 550 from a friend's junk-collector father and trucked it to my Dad's bike shop for him to work magic with it. A couple weeks later, it roared to life and literally, four days later, the trip was on. I had never really ridden a motorcycle on the highway and at the first stop of the trip, I was already having serious doubts about the journey. The bike was hard to start, wasn't running great and since it was a smaller 550, it blew around in the wind like nothing you've ever experienced unless you've ridden a mid-sized motorcycle across Nebraska. To be honest, the trip was ridiculous and a very bad idea. My mom cried when I showed up at her house and told her my plan the night before leaving . She gave me a little guardian angel pin which blew off my snowboard jacket within the first half hour of the trip. I had some close calls, some white knuckle rides and even got chased and screamed at by some hostile weirdo out in California, but I made it. Did I mention the two mile push and random Mormon security guard saving the day in Utah when I ran out of gas? Or the fat hillbilly in Iowa who backed into the bike as I watched in horror as it hit the asphalt? How about a full day of riding in a torrential downpour that felt like drops of fire hitting my face and hands? The bad idea of wearing shorts one day and the insane sunburn that followed? I guess i mentioned it now. The flip side is the spiritual liberation of thousands of miles of hard alone time and the opening of one's mind within those long miles. You really get to know yourself during a trip like that. Maybe more than you want to. It's a very honest, very true experience. Looking back at it, it was brutal, but I would like to do it again some day, when I'm an old man. Just not on a 550 Honda. I rode the hell out of this bike. It was my main source of transportation for a few years after that trip (during decent weather, obviously).
I realized tonight that exactly fifteen years ago today, I was on the return trip from California aboard the Honda. Not intentionally, but sort of coincidentally, I watched this bike--my life line for two weeks at that time, roll away on a trailer, a check in my pocket that stated this motorcycle was no longer in my possession. I've been trying to convince myself to let go of this nostalgic attachment I have to inanimate objects. It's just a motorcycle, right?
It sure looked bad ass on that trailer.
Sean Newton photos, of course....