My first taste of a true motorcycle happened when I was around five-years-old, bouncing around on the back of my brother’s Lambretta. There’s been more than a few decades passed since then, but I was hooked on the first vibrations of two wheels and a motor. After getting off the scooter, my blue Viscount bicycle would become a Harley, Triumph or a mighty BSA, oh yeah. It all depended on how you affixed the hockey cards to the front forks and mixed it all with some bizarre imagination, which seemed to exist in abundance.
After hundreds of thousands of kilometres on my own bikes, coast-to-coast-to-coast, I find myself a whole lot older, maybe a little wiser and a little more destructible. Regardless, I’m very much hooked on the idea that all one really needs is two wheels, with some variants depending on the trip.
I still like bicycles, I have this really neat giant carbon-fibre thing that thrills me, especially when you are looking at a teensy-tiny Metzeler hand-laid half-inch tire on a sixteen spoke lightweight alloy wheel spin in front of you on an exhilarating 70 km/h downhill. I used to be able to complete a 162 km run in less than six hours, but the time is now a little longer and this new bike doesn’t have a ‘granny’ sprocket so the hills are somewhat more of a challenge. Regardless, it still puts a smile on my face–even if I don’t use hockey cards anymore.
I suspect that my grandson Jack will though. The little guy is just coming up on three and he’s taken quite a liking to the whole motorcycle scene. He knows the difference between a Ducati and a BMW. This year will be a pushbike (thanks Misty), then pedals, and then…maybe something with a certain ‘vibe’ to it. Yup, I can read the cards pretty good on this one.
This spring he’s tucked himself between me, the tank and seat of my R1200GS Adventure, hung on to the padded crossbar and squeals with delight as the two of us putt around some nicely manicured trails on my eastern Ontario property. It takes about five minutes to do a circuit and he’s adamant that there should always be one more run.
I laugh as he chatters on; tucked between my legs, the two of us enjoy the birth of the bond. I wonder what’s going through his mind as we glide over grass and leaf covered trails? Is this where the ‘bug’ steps in? I guess it will be what it will be, no more, no less.
All I hope for is that he will experience what it’s like to enjoy the freedom of two wheels, accept and deal with the risk associated with two wheels and revel in parts and peoples unknown. I hope that one day Jack will go and make a difference. Maybe carry on where Ted Simons, Glen Haggstad, Grant and Susan Johnson and other excellent Round The World riders left off. Who knows? The birth of the bond? Perhaps the enhancement of humanity.
Now, before some bleeding heart private member ‘lurker’ reads this and decides that I’m a child abusing biker redneck, I need to say that all our very pleasurable forays into our ‘huner’d acre’ trail are done at speeds that you could walk beside, on private property, so sue me. This goes way beyond legislation, this is the bond between Granddads and Grandsons and a particular mode of travel, one that leaves a virtual invisible carbon footprint, adds joy and empowers people to do what this world needs more of.
Motorcyclists are the largest known charity embraced sub-culture group known—and that’s a fact.
So who knows? Maybe Jack, resplendent on whatever motorbike that’s on the go over the next couple of decades, will evoke a minute change in human behaviour, leave a drop of understanding or a dollop of goodwill toward mankind.
Hope springs eternal.
Call it good breeding, but all it starts with some patience, the push of a start button and the squeal of delight from a youngster.
Yeah, that makes me feel pretty good, and when I’m not around, Grandma can take him out on her bike. So there.
Ride Safe. Ride (very) Far, Stu