The further I get into the future, the more I reflect on the past. It’s funny how the older we get the more we say “I remember when.” We often use that term when it comes to cars, motorcycles and even our friends because the history we are creating while living our lives often requires us to look back to tell the story. So that’s what we do – we tell stories, stretch the truth and laugh about the good times. We look back and laugh because even those bad days weren’t that bad after all.
I’m as guilty as the next person when it comes to this as my tall tales get even taller and in most cases it always ends up being funnier than when it actually happened. Case in point; it was 1976 and me and my trusty Yamaha DT175 were out to the Katy trails just behind the White City Cemetery for a little fun in the dirt. Disregarding all common sense for my own safety, I would usually ride alone and not once in my Bell helmet did I hear my mother saying anything about clean underwear or “wait until your father gets home.” So off I went the two miles or so as the crow flies, (of course I felt like I was flying as any teenage boy would on his motorcycle) to spend the afternoon jumping and climbing a few hills.
Who hasn’t ridden a motorcycle only to suffer a mechanical break-down? Not me. Over the years I have become very keen on what is a real break-down compared to a road-side fix. But it wasn’t an overnight education. After the first few minutes of getting to the Katy trails, I laid my motorcycle over on the left side. Not a real bad crash by any means, but it was enough to get up and dust myself off. I picked up the DT to find my shift lever bent underneath the engine case. Not knowing what to do, I pushed it more than two miles home (I’m not a crow) back into the yard. My brother Danny was a huge help in pointing out the obvious solution to my problem – grab hold of the shift lever and bend it back out. There, problem solved. Why wasn’t it obvious to me? It sure would have saved me a lot of effort and it would have kept me riding for the afternoon. But from where I was standing the problem seemed to big to handle on the side of the trail. I was apparently more concerned about clean underwear and if my dad was home yet I guess.
Looking back at the situation now I can laugh about it. Not only did it not seem funny at the time, it also gave me plenty of time to think about it as I pushed it home. But it’s a lessened learned and it definitely builds character. It also gives you the satisfaction of knowing that you won’t make the same mistake twice. Fast forward to 2008 and I’m riding my Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail. For some reason, every time I shift gears up or down, it takes excessive force. What in the world is wrong with my transmission? After talking to a friend of mine, he told me I need to put a little lubricant on the pivot for the heal-toe lever. Hmmm, lubrication. Who would have thought? At least I had my clean underwear on.