Tuesday, July 1, 2014

My first Harley - Davidson Adventure

My brother Mickey, our neighbor and me, without a clue!
We were basically armatures when it came to that Harley - Davidson dirt bike, and the adventure, in a nut-shell could have basically killed any of us, but somehow we bounced back nicely considering the dirt and gravel road we used as our training ground.

Luckily, none of us suffered any more than normal cuts and bruises from riding that bike; and thankfully not a single broken bone on any of us; At least not from riding the dirt bike.

It was one of the best dirt bikes I had ever attempted to ride, (there were a few others), and if my memory serves me right, I have never seen one quite like it ever again. The other's did not hold a candle to that Harley.

It was blue with white lettering and it was larger than I remember; and I had to use my tiptoes to keep it from falling over when I sat on it. And it seemed that some how, between my house and my grandmother's house, (that was only a half mile away), I nearly always flooded that bike and could never get it started again. I can remember how over and over I would jump up on that kick start and every time ... nothing. Just a disappointing putt noise, and that was it. No REVVE, no exhaust, not ever a a hint of starting that bike, and no ride home. And so I would have to walk that bike ALL the way home. Which seemed like a whole mile at that age. Pushing it and balancing it upright all the way home was tiring, I can still feel how tired my arms were after all of that pushing. 

By rights I should have had arms like a weight lifter, and I was always so disappointed that I had to put it away for the night. (SIGH)! "Tomorrow is another day," my mom would always says. Thankfully, it always started again the next day.

It was a personal triumph, frankly, that I could even get the bike  up and going fast enough to keep myself upright and rolling down the road. 

Speed was never an issue, however, because the speed was usually just slow. 

I think I got it up to 25 or 30 MPH on one of my adventures down that dirt road, and the smile I had on my face is one I can still feel to this day. Some of those rides were glorious, especially the ones where I didn't flood it and flew by my house to the other end of the road and back again. 

Those were the rides I gloried in. 

Those rides gave me the best feeling. No wind in my hair, of course, I had to wear a helmet, but the feeling of freedom on that Harley dirt bike was priceless.

Just like the American Express commercial. Gas .80 cents a gallon, Helmet, 20 bucks, riding solo on a Harley dirt bike up and down Shaw Road at 30 miles an hour, tops, Priceless.

The memory is not as hazy as the picture of it I found, but its a sweet memory. Its one of those memories that instantly awakens a flood of pictures causing everything in that moment to come back to life again, just like it was that day, and that is one of the best feelings in the world.

The picture itself is a treasure. It's me, in my favorite orange plaid pants and my favorite yellow summer shirt, sitting on the bike, obviously posing from the encouragement of my Grandfather. He, by all accounts, was our biggest and best fan and our personal photographer. He always made us pose too, because he just LOVED to take pictures. And he made sure he got the BEST moment, like that one of me on that Harley, leaving no question that I had NOT A CLUE of what I was doing, and my brother, well, he knew I didn't know what I was doing either.

It was after that day I started to learn to ride. I think I rode the life out of that bike. I rode it so much my step-dad started making me buy gas, and that took a lot of the fun out of it, but I somehow managed to keep riding it,and somehow I found enough work to keep gas in it. 

It was pretty cheap back then, less than a dollar, and a few gallons provided miles of fun, even if I couldn't leave Shaw Road. I made up my own destinations in my mind. I road through Europe and along the coast of California and down to Florida to visit my grandpa, all on that Harley and all on that old dirt road. 

Awww ... I love thinking about it. The memory is one of my sweetest ones.

I don't know what ever happened to that bike. Either it got old and quite running or we put it away and forgot about it because life got complicated shortly after that. Where ever it ended up, I hope someone got to make new memories on it.

Regardless of its demise, the memory of that dirk bike will occupy a corner of my mind for a very long time now. Now that it is fresh and I have remembered those trips I took around the world on that Harley. I forgot the destinations my mind had traveled to.

I told my bother about the picture today and he requested his own copy, he had no idea it even existed. I am wondering what he will remember once he sees it? I am looking forward to his version of the story behind the picture.

I only remember that it was a so much fun. It was a joyful, innocent time in my life. I could ride a Harley Davidson dirt bike just as good as any guy could back then, and that, for me, is something to brag about. 

I had actually forgotten I could even sit on and drive a bike. It makes me wonder, should I try it again?  One never knows, I might just give it a whirl, to feel that free again would be amazing.

And of course, it would have to be on a Harley!