A Story Never To Be Forgotten

Soooo excited!!!!

Packing a helmet, gloves, riding gear, boots, insurance, excitement and money … off we go to pick up the 2008 GL1800 Gold Wing!  It’s going to be about a 60 mile ride there and 60 miles back on the GW.  I just got my permit … so yeah, I’m ready to rumble!

Sue, my wife, is going with me to follow me home.  Let me say that at this time Sue is a bit reluctant about the entire motorcycle midlife crises adventure.  Yep, she okayed the purchase and the idea of riding a street motorcycle, but, she still was not exactly overjoyed.  You know, people get hurt riding motorcycles, it’s dangerous, this is a midlife crises thing and you’ll be over this in a few months, bla, bla, bla (hope she doesn’t read this!).  Onward we go!

In about an hour we arrive at the home where the GW rests.  We park the car, climb up the drive way and James meets us in the back of the house.  The GW is there and James.  James’ mother walks out to greet us with a smile … her name is Sally.

Sally and her son James are sweet people.  Instantly, we formed a bond that was more than just transaction in nature.  You know that feeling when you meet someone and it’s like you’ve known them for years?  That’s the feeling Sue and I both had.  Really good people.

We walked in the house and sat at the kitchen table to “do business”.  We counted the money and reviewed all the paper work.  She gave us the keys, “mechanic’s manual”, pink slip, all receipts for the bike since new.  Now that the business was done Sally walked us through her house showing the new tile flooring that James had laid down … it was beautiful.  This kid can do wonderful work!

And now the rest of the story.

For whatever reason it’s easy for me to ask personal questions of people … not being disrespectful or judgmental … I just think everyone has a story and I enjoy hearing people’s story.  The “story” is usually something that happened that changed the course of one’s life or was a significant event that is a constant memory.  Thankfully, most everyone I ask of their “story” have shared.

Dave: “Sally, James shared that your husband passed away a few years ago; how did your husband pass away?”

Sally: “My husband died in a motorcycle accident three years ago.”

This took both Sue and I by … not surprise, but, was overwhelmed with a since of empathy, compassion … not sure.

She continued telling us the story.  He was riding more of a sportier motorcycle to work about 80 miles away.  While riding on a two-lane highway he went to pass a big rig … the big rig did not see him and turned left at the exact same time he was passing on the left … he hit the truck and died at the scene.

At this time both Sue and I have tears in our eyes as if it had just happened.  I can’t imagine what it would have been like to receive the phone call at about 10:30am on a sunny day.  Sally’s husband was in his mid 50s, had been riding motorcycles since he was 13.  Sally said that he had over a million miles riding throughout his life. He was certainly an expert rider …

We spent about another 30 minutes with James and Sally and it was time to ride the bike home.

The back of the house was elevated about 30 feet from the street below.  I told James he would have to get the bike down to the street.  He drove down this long steep “dirt” drive way and parked the bike next to the curb.

60 miles to go!

As he handed over the keys to me he said this:

“My Dad was one best motorcycle riders in the world …. he had a horrible accident … ride like you are invisible to everyone else and you will be fine.”

With that I mounted the bike …..

With no experience, a new permit … I mount this bike and I’m going to ride it home … look out!

Things I Gotta Get

There are more cost to riding a motorcycle than just the bike.

So now I have committed to buying a 2008 Honda Gold Wing.  And I need to get the bike to my house.  I thought maybe the owner would trailer it down to my house … but no, the trailer is now broken.  So now how am I going to get this 950lb bike home?

I have a friend that is an experienced GW rider and he offered to drive it home (like 50 miles away).  That seemed silly … so I decided my wife and I would go up and pay the balance of the money and she would follow me home on the HUGE 950lb motorcycle.  And this is the first not bright idea I had.

Now, in order to drive the motorcycle home, I needed a few things.  First, I needed a motorcycle permit to legally ride the bike.  I called the DMV on Thursday and scheduled to take the written test on the following Monday … this would get me a permit.  Second, I needed “stuff”.  I needed a helmet and some riding gear. (We’ll discuss riding gear in the near future).  We traveled to Orange County, CA … this is where I would buy some stuff.

First stop though would be to see the 2007 Gold Wing with 70,000 for $12,000.  The bike was nice and all that … but, after seeing the bike I felt great about the 2008 GW we purchased!  This motorcycle shop didn’t have what I needed … mainly a helmet.  While at the motorcycle shop I began talking with another customer about his GW.  During the conversation, he suggested we go down the street to a place called Cycle Gear.  So off to Cycle Gear we go.

 

Helmets.  Big problem for me.  I first noticed how “long” my head was when they didn’t have a Cub Scout hat to fit my head.  My Dad had to cut and tap that hat to make it work (I was like 9).  Then playing high school football … the school had to get a custom helmet for my now longer head! Many, many years ago went through a cowboy phase for about a week … could not find a cowboy hat to fit!  Fitted hats became popular several years ago … nope, they don’t make one my size and shape, period.  And now I’ve got to get a helmet that fits my beautifully shaped head.

This was my first time in Cycle Gear.  To a new motorcycle enthusiast, this store was nirvana!  This store had a complete wall, from top to bottom with every style and color of helmets.  Surely, they would have one that fits.  I didn’t care what color or brand (didn’t know anything about brands at this time), I just needed a helmet that would fit … a huge challenge.

To my pleasant surprise motorcycle helmets come in all kinds of sizes and different shapes.  This store had 3XL which is the first good thing.  Secondly, manufacturers make shapes described as oval, intermediate oval and long oval … unbelievable!  My salesman found an intermediate oval, ARIA full faced helmet that fit great.  Albeit, they had to switch out the side pads for thicker ones to make the helmet fit perfectly.  Helmet cost was $585 … on sale.  Had no idea helmets cost so much.

A more detailed helmet discussion will follow in the future blogs.  Reading and learning about helmet technology the past few months has been very interesting.  There is a lot that goes into making a helmet.

Next, I needed riding pants and jacket. Again, I will have a lot more to share about riding gear in future blogs (I love talking about riding gear).  Nonetheless, I bought a $119 riding jacket and a $199 pair of riding pants.

This all happened on Sunday before the Tuesday I was going to pick up the 2008 GW.  To my surprise there is a Cycle Gear in my city a few miles away.  Monday, I went to CG and bought some gloves and a pair of inexpensive riding shoes.  To take my safety class the following weekend I needed shoes that covered the ankle … check!

So now it is Monday and I have all the gear.  I go to the DMV Monday afternoon and pass my test and headed home with my permit.  Yippee!

Tuesday morning I’m excited to drive up 50 miles and get the bike.  This morning I called GEICO and bought a year of insurance for about $500.  As you now know, if you are going to ride a motorcycle, there are additional costs that begin to add up … and it’s only beginning.

So, at 2:00 in the afternoon we arrived at the home to pick up the bike.

Picking up the bike and talking with the widow and her son this day was a game changer … just wait!

Committed to Buy

The decision was pretty easy.

Day 3-4 I contemplated what bike to get.  I knew I wanted a big bike (Electra Glide, Gold Wing, etc.) I had just spent time in the Harley store and saw some beautiful bikes.  However, I eliminated HDs for a couple of reasons.  First, the Harley was a little too loud for my liking.  I had a neighbor that wakes the entire neighborhood when he leaves on his HD at 5:00 in the morning.  Second, I wanted the most reliable bike I could get.  While I believe the newer HDs have very few break downs, I was going to buy a used bike, maybe 5-8 years old.  I heard a guy once joke that “95% of all Harleys are still on the road today …. the other 5% made it home”.

My decision came by way of my lawnmower.  Thirty two years ago I bought a Tru-Cut 25” front throw lawnmower.  It has a 5 hp Honda motor.  After 32 years it still starts with one pull!  It has been super reliable.

Since I had a little experience (very little) on a 1991 Gold Wing … well, just like that I decided to start looking at Honda Gold Wings.  Now, I knew very little about GWs or any motorcycle for that matter.  However, I placed my entire focus on searching for a Gold Wing GL1800.

I found http://www.cycletrader.com.  This is a great website!  If you’re looking to get a new or used motorcycle spend some time on this website.  After becoming an “expert” on 2007-2009 GWs I found one that I started to focus on.  It was down in Huntington Beach, CA at a motorcycle shop … a 2007 with 70,000 miles.  This used bike had a couple of extras like a seat back rest and floorboards.  The price was $12,000.  We were heading down to the area in a few days and was excited to go see my new bike!

On day 4 while spending way too many hours on cycletrader I came across a new listing of a Gold Wing.  This was a 2008 GL1800 with 17,000 miles for $10,500.  Hmmm, big difference in price and mileage. While most listings on cycletrader have several pictures attached this listing had only one.

Calling the phone number I spoke to James.  I had a simple question: “Why are you selling your bike?”  James said that it was his Dad’s bike and that his dad had passed away a few years earlier and the family was now ready to sell the bike.  I asked if I could come up and see the bike and two days later one of my sons and I were there looking at a beautiful 2008 Gold Wing!

We talked to James about the GW.  We started it and listened to the engine run … sounded good to me.  Checked out the lights, oil and other fluids.  All looked good to me (frankly, I had no idea what to look for … leaky fluids?).  James volunteered information that he had trailered the bike 50 miles to a local motorcycle store to place the bike on consignment a few days earlier.  At the same time he paid a $100 for an inspection of the bike.  They suggested that the bike needed new tires, a front fork seal was leaking and perhaps a new battery.  It’s fair to say, James didn’t have a good feeling with these guys and brought the bike home and placed the add in cycletrader.  He offered me the invoice as proof and I knew I didn’t need to read it.

When you do business like buying a used motorcycle, I feel you should trust the person you’re doing business with or walk away.  In a short time, we felt James was very trustworthy.  We settled on a price of $10,000.  I gave James a deposit and agreed to me coming in a few days to get the bike.

I now have a lot to do before I pick this bike up in 5 days.  Get a permit to drive it, helmet and gear and whatever else you need.

This is when the first challenges begin to pop up ….

Best Advice Today!

Continuation Day 2

Then I asked the question:

“WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THIS HD ELECTRA GLIDE AND HONDA GOLDWING?”

Mark shared a couple cool aspects he thought were good for the HD side:

First, owning a Harley you become part of the HD family … a brotherhood of people who like the freedom of riding motorcycles.  Secondly, one of the good things about being a HD owner is that there is a HD dealership within a hundred miles of wherever you are in the US!

These were two good things to keep in mind.  But, I told Mark I was thinking more about the “performance” differences of the HD Electra Glide and the Honda Gold Wing.  He said that the Honda will always start and be ready to go … low maintenance.  While he didn’t say anything derogatory about the Gold Wing, I think he was trying to imply the HD is just a cooler bike!  Like I said earlier the HD Electra Glide is a beautiful bike … very cool!

Day 2 in the Harley store Mark passed on information to me that turned out to be the most significant part of my motorcycle journey thus far.  Mark leaves our conversation for a minute and comes back with a little piece of paper with a phone number to Top Gun Motorcycle Safety Course.   He says that before I do anything like buying a bike …. take this course.  He says the course will teach you fundamentals of riding and how to be a safe rider.  He said it will get you going in the right direction.

Talked with Mark for a few more minutes then I left with the piece of paper in my hand.

As soon as I got home (5 minutes from the HD store) I was on my computer looking up information about the Top Gun safety course.  Within an hour I was signed up for a class an hour away in Valencia, CA two weeks from now.

On a personal note … good or bad … when I get involved in something I go all in. Like my dad used to say … “if you’re going to be a bear be a grizzly”.  So, seeing the motorcycle at the intersection yesterday then visiting a HD store and signing up for motorcycle safety course on day 2, to me, are just things you need to do.

Summary of Day 2:

First: Mark is an awesome dude!  He was very helpful and patient answering my very basic questions.  He gave me good advice (safety class) and was never trying to push me into buying a bike.  He encouraged me to come visit if ever I had any questions that he would be happy to chat.

To anyone reading this blog and looking to buy a HD in Bakersfield, CA … see Mark!  He is a straight shooter and a knowledgeable rider.  I think he has over 500 thousand miles without an accident or ticket!

Second: By the end of Day 2 it was time to get serious about buying a motorcycle.  I would be taking a safety class in less than 2 weeks and within a few days after wanted to be a fully licensed and ready to go rider … I think.

Day 2 concludes with me finding a website called www.cycletrader.com  …..

How About a Harley?

This is day 2

Near my house is a beautiful Harley Davidson store that I had never been in before Day 2.  Walked in and saw the most beautiful motorcycles I had ever seen.  Brand new … huge bikes.  First bike I got close to was the HD Electra Glide Ultra Classic … this thing was massive!  There wasn’t a speck of dust on this beast.  Next, I stood next to the HD Softail Deluxe … again, a beautiful machine (no wind screen …).

I was in the store for about 10 minutes imagining riding one of these wonderful machines and Mark came up to me and asked if I had any questions.  Mark wore a bandanna, a sleeveless shirt, vest and sported an 8 inch beard.  I said that I was just looking.  “Do you ride?” he asked.  “No, but I think I’m going to ride, just need a bike,” I replied.

We were near the Electra Glide when he asked if I’d like to sit on it.  I really wanted to, but it was a huge bike … I wasn’t even sure how to get on it.  Would I need a step later (I’m six foot, 190lbs) … Mark saw my reluctance and encouraged me to start from the right side, hold on to the brake and swing a leg over the seat.  So, I grabbed the brake handle and swung my leg over … then on my second try … success!  I was straddling this beautiful motorcycle.  Mark in his wisdom and knowing that I knew little to nothing about motorcycles was straddling the front tire so I wouldn’t tip over (I guess).  I brought the bike so that is was straight up and I was balancing this gigantic bike while sitting on the seat.  Super comfortable, BUT the weight was huge!  This Harley weighed about 950lbs!  I then asked Mark how I should exit the bike (I was serious).  Off I went.

Now, you should know that 25 years earlier my Dad had a Honda Gold Wing and a huge Yamaha touring bike … I think it was a Yamaha Venture.  I rode a total of probably 10 hours 25 years ago.

Then I asked the question:

“WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THIS HD ELECTRIC GLIDE AND HONDA GOLD WING?”

Day 2 continues next …

What is Danger Dave?

Before we go much further I need to let you know how the name “Danger” became associated with my first name, “Dave”.

I wish there was some great story how I risk life and limb and did a bunch of crazy stunts and survived.  But, the fact of the matter is … not sure why I was nicknamed Danger.  It started when one of my kids was in college.  My wife and I got to know many of his friends in college over the years he attended.  After one of their college baseball game, my son’s friend called me Danger.  It stuck with those group of guys. So, whenever we visit these kids they will greet me with, “Hi Danger”.

That’s the awesome story of the name Danger.  I use it in this blog cause it sounds cool … if you’re not cool at least have a name that’s cool and “fake it till you make it”!

That’s all I have to say about that.

Now let’s move to day 2 … the Harley Store!

 

Thanks,

Danger Dave

 

Why a Motorcycle?

Why a motorcycle?

For about 6 months I had been looking for something to do in the evening time after work.  Something more tangible than reading, writing or singing.  Felt like I needed something that I could “work on”, maybe something more mechanical.  Thought about a boat, motor home,  airplane, old car, but, none of these things caught on.  I had a boat years earlier and had fun with it.  How many times would I use a boat?  Maybe 12 times a year?  Airplane … simply too expensive.  Every time I drove by a motor home storage facility I’d see all these motor homes that looked liked they never get used, that was out.  An old car to fix up?  Then I would go to car shows and stand around with all the other guys and stare at the wonderful cars … nope, not for me.

Day 1

Sitting at a stop light a motorcycle pulled up next to me.  One look over at the guy on his motorcycle … that was it!  Decided right then and there I would get a motorcycle!  A motorcycle would be something I could ride all the time.  It would be in my garage (so I thought) … all I would need to do is come home, get the key, hop on and go … it would be that easy (so I thought).

When I arrived home I “shared” with my wife that I was going to buy a motorcycle.  Initial response from my wife was, “no you’re not”.  It wasn’t like a loud “NO YOU’RE NOT!”, it was more like “are you nuts?” kind of a response.  When you’ve been married as long as I have … you know the difference … there was definitely some wiggle room in her response.  I simply responded with, “well, I think I am”.  After some discussion she relented and said “well, maybe”.  At that point I knew it was going to happen!

Now I needed to do some research as to what brand, style, size of bike to get.

Day 2 ….. to the local Harley shop!