en·thu·si·ast (n-th z-st) n. 1. One who is filled with enthusiasm; one who is ardently absorbed in an interest or pursuit: “he’s a motorcycle enthusiast.”
And that I am. I have been since around 1972 and it has been an amazing ride, pun intended. After forty-plus years of riding just about everything, racing a little on the side and owning more than sixty self-propelled “motors-on-wheels” I can honestly say it has changed my life and made me the individual that I am today. And not only is my enthusiasm still as high today as it was back in the 70’s, I would almost go as far as saying it is even higher. Is that possible? Fifty years old and still getting excited about internal combustion isn’t something I would normally admit but it happens on a daily basis with me. The “motion” of the motorcycle and the “emotion” of a motorcycle still brings a smile to my face.
In 1974 with the help of my dad, and a pocket-full of cash saved from mowing lawns I bought my first motorcycle from the dealership that I currently work at today. Think about that for a minute-City Cycle Sales Harley-Davidson in Junction City Kansas (Since 1962) sold me my first Harley-Davidson X90 in 1974. After that, a Yamaha 550 Maxim, Husky 175 enduro and a Yamaha Warrior 4-wheeler. I raced both the 4-wheeler and a Honda CR250 back in the 80’s and Wayne sponsored me. Lot’s of parts and accessories purchased along the way and look at me now. Selling Harley-Davidson, Suzuki and Kawasaki’s at City Cycle Sales and loving every minute of it. Since then I have purchased a couple more units and three Harley-Davidson’s. A Sportster 883, Heritage Softail Classic and my current ride is a Road King.
Wow, how the time flies when you’re having fun! With all these years of riding under my belt, it has helped me put many, many customers on the motorcycle of their dreams. But it has also put me in a unique position. You see, I’m not just a Harley-Davidson guy, dirt bike guy or a sport bike rider. I don’t focus on one brand or just one category in this power-sports business. I am a enthusiast. I like ALL things power-sports and sometimes it’s hard to convince customers of that. So many riders are brand loyal and I’m good with that. But not to the point where I “dislike” someone’s brand choice in motorcycles, or why they don’t have the same interests as I do.
I deal with all kinds of riders and their varying degrees of interests. From the extreme and hard-core, to the casual weekend rider that would rather take the Buick. I also need to be able to talk about the new Honda, KTM or any other “latest and greatest” gizmo or motorcycle when someone wants to compare bikes and parts. Not to mention the vast number of makes and models and every detail of each one and what makes them different (better or worse) than the other. I deal with the brand new, never ridden a motorcycle in their life to the veteran rider like myself. Men, women, parents with their kids and everyone in between. I also act as a psychologist for the mid-life crisis crowd. But I do it, all with a smile on my face. I find it rewarding to see their enthusiasm grow as the process begins, and most importantly, where it ends. I also see the value in being able to describe what it’s like to ride and how it has changed my life-and how it can change theirs.
Sure, the days are long and retail has its challenges with the six-day work week. When the weather is nice everyone is out riding and you’re not. But I’m involved. And I would like to be even more involved. One thing is for sure, if you don’t like what you do, you need to do something different. But I do like what I do. The folks in this industry are a close-knit family and it shows. We get “it.” We get each other and we are ready in invite anyone new into this amazing sport. We are enthusiasts.
If you find yourself involved in this industry as I am, and you aren’t having fun or you’re bored or frustrated in what you do, remember what it is that brought you into this sport. Take yourself back to that moment when you realized the impact the motorcycle had on you. Mine was a dealer who cared enough to see my enthusiasm and build upon that over forty years ago.