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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by klaviator, Feb 9, 2015.
You only live twice, or so it seems
One life for yourself and one for your dreams.
Note: When the forum made major changes in 2015 it messed up many things in older ride reports like this one. I have been trying to go back and fix things but haven't fixed everything. Things like links to videos and emoticons were primarily what got messed up.
A kid in the neighborhood had one of these:
I don't care if your dream bike is a top of the line Ducati, BMW, Harley or whatever, it's not any more awesome than this bike was to me back then.
But it was out of my reach and just a dream.
Many kids had something like this:
I could have afforded one of the cheaper model minibikes and really wanted one but my parents wouldn't let me get one so it was just a dream.
I had my dream bike.
I was living in Southern California. I went out almost every weekend and rode the great canyon and mountain roads in the area with my friends. We ripped through the curves. Cops were scarce and 120+ MPH speeds where common.
I was living the dream.
For the last year or so I have been going back through my old pics and scanning some of them. I have a lot of great memories in those pics. I wish ADV had been around back then and I had done a better job of recording all those old memories.
Better late than never. I have decided to try to do that.
What's with the theme song in the first post. Stay tuned and I will try to explain.
In 1967 the James Bond movie "You only Live Twice" was released. The theme song for the movie was sung by Nancy Sinatra. I have always thought it was a catchy song and have been intrigued by the lyrics. I really don't know exactly what point the writer of the song was trying to make and I don't really care. I only care about these lines:
You only live twice or so it seems.
One life for yourself and one for your dreams
This is what those lines mean to me.
One life for yourself : This is the life you have to live. You go to work, mow the lawn, pay your bills, brush your teeth, etc, etc.
We all have dreams. They start when we are young and hopefully continue on until we die. I have had many dreams over my life. I'm sure many of you have had similar dreams. Dreams like; winning an olympic medal, being a superstar athlete, winning the lottery, owning exotic cars, boats, guns, etc. I imagine most people dream about what they will be what they grow up. I'm still working on that one but still have time since I have yet to grow up
But dreams are just dreams unless we get to live them.
and one for your dreams
This is what I consider to be that second life, the one where we get to live those dreams.
I have had two dreams that really stand out in my life. Partly because I have had them for so much of my life but mostly because I have had the chance to live those dreams.
As you might just guess, one of those dreams has always been owning and riding motorcycles
Using old pics that I have scanned and sometimes hazy memories, I will try to tell my story of living my motorcycle dream.
1970 or so
I was in JR High. I had a friend who had a real motorcycle. It was a Sears 106. It looked similar to this pic I found online.
My friend's dad was a traffic cop. One day he responded to an accident where a young guy had crashed on a Sears 106 motorcycle. The riders dad was there and was irate because he had crashed a few times before. He asked my friends dad to just take the bike, he didn't want his son riding it anymore.
We were not old enough to legally ride on the street, of course this didn't stop my friend. We also had some trails and fields in some woods nearby. My friend explained how the throttle, clutch, shifter and brakes worked and let me loose in the woods.
That was my first experience with a motorcycle. I rode that bike a couple of times, enough to get the basics on how to ride.
Then it would be many years before I rode again. I was still interested in bikes but the dream kind of faded a bit as I was busy with other things and other dreams.
I happened to notice some motorcycle magazines on the magazine rack in a store. I picked up a couple and read them. I was starting to dream about bikes again. Over the next couple of years I bought some more magazines.
I tried not to drool too much on the pages
1980. Getting a taste of the dream.
For those of you too young to remember, things where a little different back in 1980. There was no Internet, no cell phones, no digital cameras, and motorcycles where quite a bit different from today. back then you met the nicest people on a Honda. The Honda 750/4 was still pretty new and was a huge bike.
1980 was the year I decided it was time to finally buy a bike. There was no Craig's List so I looked in the classified section of the local newspaper. I had decided that something like a Honda CB350 or Kawasaki KZ400 would be the perfect bike for me. I found a 1976 KZ400 in the paper and went and looked at it. It wasn't exactly what I wanted. It was a boring black and was the cheap model with drum brakes and no Tach. I didn't even have a license so I had the owner take me for a ride on it so I could see that it ran OK. I should have looked at some more bikes but I was young and impatient so I bought it. Not only that but I paid the full asking price of $670.
The owner rode it to my house and I forked over the cash. I was now the actual owner of a real motorcycle. I quickly went and got my motorcycle learners permit and went down to the local department store and picked up a 3/4 helmet. I figured it would be more comfortable if it had a nice and loose fit.
Back then if you wanted to take a pic you had to buy this stuff called film, load it into your camera, take not only the pic you wanted but also finish the entire roll before taking the film to the store to get it developed. Then you waited a few days before picking it up. It's no wonder then that people didn't take as many pics back then as today. However, I sometimes did all that and I did get a pic of me on my first bike:
Atgatt was another word that didn't exist back then. My typical "riding gear" consisted of tennis shoes, jeans, t-shirt and helmet. If it was cold I added a jacket and maybe sweat shirt and maybe some work gloves.
Speaking of helmet, I bought this one at an old department store called Uncle Bills. Besides being way to big, it had this snap on bubble shield. If I turned my head to the side at speed the wind would catch it and twist it way around on my head
It didn't take too long for me to wise up and buy a full face helmet that actually fit.
Despite all this, I had a blast on this bike. It felt incredibly powerful. I had to hang on when I twisted the throttle to prevent falling off the back
Well, it felt that way to me anyway Then there was riding around curves. I was in Northern Ohio which is not exactly known for curves but there where some. And there was always those freeway on and off ramps I was hooked on riding. I bought this bike to ride to the park on sunny weekends but was soon riding everywhere. My car just sat in the driveway gathering dust.........and rust.
Top speed? I don't remember but I'm sure I checked it out. I do remember that it would cruise at highway speeds but would turn into a jackhammer somewhere around 63MPH. The national speed limit back then was 55 so that was fast enough.
Then there was that great feeling I got anytime I was on the bike. Where I used to look at motorcycle riders in envy as they rode by, now I was that guy. I was BAAAAAAAAD. Or so I thought Actually I think I was a squid in training but I don't think that word as related to motorcycling had been invented yet either.
Was I living the motorcycle dream?
I don't know about that. I knew there was much more out there for me to experience but it at least was a taste of the dream.
I wish I had taken more pics but.......at least I took some.
The KZ400 started to run poorly and not have much power. One day it died on me. I was not a mechanic and had a job so I did the only logical thing, look for a new bike. My dream bike at the time was the newly released Kawasaki GPZ550.
This bike was a real breakthrough in performance for a middleweight motorcycle. It would be the perfect bike for a young squid like me.
So I went to the local Kawasaki dealer to check into getting one. The salesman there didn't even bother to talk to me when I came in. I had to flag one down and ask him about the bike.
Sorry, they are all sold out
What a bummer.
What about the KZ550?
They weren't interested in selling me one of those either. So i went to the local Suzuki dealer. They had a nice leftover 1980 GS550E and where willing to deal on it.
So I ended up buying the GS550E. It was my first ever new vehicle of any kind. I added a luggage rack on the back and a set of lower handlebars to make it a little sportier. The Saddlebags were added about a year later.
OK, so it wasn't a GPZ550 but according to the magazine tests it was a hair quicker through the quarter mile than a Porsche 911 turbo. It was faster than most of the high dollar exotic sports cars out there. Was this really important?
It was to me. Compared to modern bikes it wasn't very fast but it had an exciting powerband. It pulled OK at lower RPM but had a definite kick at high RPMs, It seemed to pull real hard until around 80 or 90. I did try running it up to top speed but it developed a very uncomfortable weave at just over 100 on the speedo.
Just like my KZ400, I rode the 550 everywhere; school, work, and fun rides on the weekends. I practiced hanging off on the inside just like I saw the magazine guys do. One day I took my favorite off ramp at my normal speed but without hanging off and quickly heard the dragging of metal parts on the pavement: I discovered that the hanging off was not just to look cool.
Keep it coming. This is getting interesting.
Yes, very cool. Nice job with the old pics!
Agreed. Very Nice.
Great thread klav,
brings back memories of my first bike purchase in 1972 at the age of 13, that beautiful CT70 bought with my own $300, and Long Beach Honda threw in the helmet.
Bobw, B10Dave, and goodguest, thanks for checking in. I do have a lot more coming.
RRR, thanks for the comments. I've got some pics from your neck of the woods coming up in 1989 and 1997.
Thanks for checking in. I have a few pics from Michigan coming up.
You had my dream bike. Someday I may just have to pick up a CT70 clone just to make that old dream come true. Do you have any old pics or stories of that CT70?
I graduated from college with a degree in mechanical engineering. The problem was that I really didn't feel I was qualified to actually be an engineer. I didn't have a clue what engineers even did
I had a friend living in New Orleans who told me they where hiring a lot of engineers in the New Orleans area for the oil industry and that I should come down there.
I had never been in the South and was ready for a change so I decided it was time for a road trip. My car was a rust bucket and two wheels would be much more fun than a cage so......
In the summer of 1982 I loaded up my Suzuki and headed south. Note the high tech luggage!
Before this I don't think I had ridden more than about 50 miles away from home. This would be quite an adventure.
I still remember a little from this trip. It was very hot. Most of it was just boring highway riding. I do remember that at the end of the first day i found a room at a motel 6 for $15.95.
I rode into New Orleans on day two in the middle of an intense thunderstorm.
I ended up living in Metairie, just outside of New Orleans for about a year. I don't have to many memories of riding there, partly because the riding there sucked and partly because my bike was stolen a few months after I got there.
Without a doubt, New Orleans was the worst place I have lived but it was also the place where the direction my life was going took a dramatic turn. I doubt that I would have become anywhere near the motorcycle fanatic I have become if I hadn't gone to New Orleans. Actually, my entire life would have been dramatically different.
1982 - 1983
In 1982 this movie was released.
Why is this in this thread?
First of all there a motorcycle in the movie, and second........well, you'll just have to wait and see.
BTW, I did go see this movie in New Orleans in 1982.
Back to the story. My friend's advice about the availability of jobs was a little off. maybe in 1981 there where plenty of jobs but a major recession hit in 82 and the oil industry was hit hard. I was able to find a job but not an engineering job. I decided to call the navy recruiter. maybe they needed engineers. I figured a few years experience and a good paying job till the recession ended was just what I needed.
So I called a Navy recruiter and told him what I was looking for. he asked me a few questions and then asked if I had considered becoming a pilot.
I told him no. He said that they didn't need engineers. So I thanked him for his time and said goodbye.
Then I thought about it for a while and the idea of being a Navy fighter pilot started to seem like a cool idea. So I called him back.
The rest as they say is history. Much too my surprise I was accepted for the Navy flight program. My report date was supposed to be around November of 1983.
In the summer of 1983 I quit my job in New Orleans and moved back home to Ohio so I could spend some time with my parents and get in shape for my upcoming training.
Of course, I now had some time on my hands and would soon have a well paying job so...........
I just had to get a bike. I wanted something small and inexpensive to play around on until I headed off for the Navy. I found this 1978 Kawasaki KE175 for $425. It had low miles and was in great shape.
Although it was a dual sport I mainly rode it on the pavement. I was a fun little bike, very light and flickable. Despite being a 2 stroke it got 70MPG. Because the national speed limit was still 55 MPH is did just fine on the highway as it could run at 70. I wish I had taken more pics of this bike and maybe I did but I haven't found any.