I woke up in the wee hours of the morning yesterday, suffering mightily from P.M.S.. Life here in the Northeast sucks this time of year for me... I couldn't fall asleep and my mind drifted back to my first exposure to this wonderful life of motorcycling. The first ride is a bit fuzzy in its detail. It was either 1975 or 1977. Spent a year in Oregon in 1976, so I know it wasn't then. My first ride was on the back of a friends Honda Trail 70. That was cool. That sunny summer afternoon he let me take the bike for a spin in their gravel driveway. After not enough explanation of the controls, or enough attention paid by me, I hopped on, twisted the throttle and shot into their garage. Wammo! Target fixation at it's best! Shook it off, found the brakes, realized the throttle worked in two directions, pointed the 70 in a safer direction and off I went. Life has never been the same since. I remember the overwhelming feeling of flying, just inches off the ground. After much pestering and convincing my mom that I would not be killed, my dad joined in and convinced my mom that she should not be raising a boy in a bubble. Not sure what deals were made in the background, but my Dad came through for me. Thanks Dad! Thanks Mom! See, I have not been killed yet! In the spring of 1979 dad presented me with a little booklet to keep track of my "bike balance". I had precious little $$, so it was decided that he would be my bank and I would work off the balance and could get a bike when I had earned enough. Game On! We heated with wood, so there was plenty of wood to cut and split. The barn needed painting, along with the caboose (yes, we have a caboose) and I mowed neighbors lawns, as well as ours. We started shopping! In retrospect, the purpose was two-fold. First, to figure out what to buy, but perhaps more importantly, to keep me motivated. I was not earning much and the required funds seemed huge. I remember checking out the Kawasaki KE100. Red or Green. I loved it! (I loved anything at that point!) My dad was not impressed. Next we checked out the Yamaha DT125. Wow, that was a real step up from the KE. That looked like a REAL manly bike. Mono-shock rear suspension. That was Rad! Yes, I was a Yamaha man for sure!!! My dad was not so sure. I could see that this was going to be a long process. More cut, split, stack, more painting, more mowing, some birthday money, more odd chores, lather, rinse, repeat. Getting there. In August we visited the Honda dealer. Woah! XR185R I want THAT! Gaaaa! That is a lot of money. About $1650 if I remember correctly, The XL185s was less. $1450 or so. My dad saw it as less for more. You get headlight, turn signals, horn, street legal (some day) etc. I wanted the XR! The dealer happened to have a 'new' XL185 with 600 miles on it. Classic situation - guy bought it for his wife, she didn't like it. Traded it for a pink moped... $899.99 SOLD!!!! ($963.00 with tax.) I had almost enough and dad let me work the rest off. Woooohooooo! Disclaimer: It was 1979. I am posing, not riding (as far as you know) I didn't have enough money for proper safety equipment... It was hot in August. It was 1979. Hey, at least I had a helmet! In action: Note the extensive use of saftey equipment, including eye protection. Note the extreme air! Note the matching barn paint on my jeans! My first bike and I still have it. It doesn't look as purdy as it did then, but it still runs, starts with one or two kicks after sitting all winter and has taught a second generation how to ride. What more could you ask? What was YOUR Gateway Drug?