It is seven-tenths of a mile from the nearest gas station to my home. Last ride.
In December of 2008 I sold my Honda Valkyrie. I had decided that I needed a lot less motorcycle and drove to Fayetteville, NC to pick up its replacement, a 05 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster. I actually ended up with both bikes for a short time while I waited for the Valkyrie to be picked up.
The Bonnie and the Brute
Motorcycles. My fascination dates back to my teen years. After I saw a couple of episodes of Then Came Bronson on TV, I was hooked. Michael Parks and Evel were my heros. My dad co-signed a loan for my first bike and that was the only time I ever doubted his sanity. It was a 1955 Harley hard tail and was the biggest pile of junk I have ever owned. It was pure hell to crank, the pipes would often come loose and belch fire and it left me stranded more than once..sometimes more than once in a single day.
I loved it.
Dad on the Harley.
I bought a new 450 Honda in 1972 and wrecked it that summer putting four stitches in my left knee and scraping the skin off of all ten fingers. Ouch! After that I was in and out of the motorcycle business for years: a couple of dirt bikes, a 750 Honda made into some redneck version of a chopper, a CX 500, a Silver Wing, Gold Wing.
When I finally found a lady who would have me I wised up and I sold the bikes.
When the Harley craze hit in the early nineties and you had to wait for a new bike, I got the fever again and picked up a sweet 1200 cc Sportster. I rode that one for five or six years and then decided I needed to grow up and quit riding.
A combination of spring and bike fever got the better of me about 2005 and I found the Valkyrie on ebay. I bought it, sight unseen, and drove from SC to Kentucky to get it. Which brings me full circle back to the Triumph.
The rest of the story:
I am 59 years old. My reaction times are no longer lightning fast, if they ever were. I have a mother who counts on me to take her to chemotherapy every few weeks and a handicapped stepson who needs me whole and functioning. I have three granddaughters that I adore and want to watch grow up. None of that matters. All of that matters.
A year or so ago, I sort of decided to sell the Triumph. I was not riding very much and when I did I was often distracted by thoughts of other things I could or should be doing. I put it on Craigslist, asked an unreasonable price and made it clear I was not sure if I really wanted to let it go. Of course, I didn't sell it.
A couple of weeks ago I dug out the title and put it on eBay for a reasonable amount. A guy from Georgia called and talked to me for five minutes on the phone. He said he would talk to his wife and call me back. Right. Sure.
Ten minutes later he called back and bought it. He would pick it up the next day.
I got up early and put one more coat of wax on the bike and waited. I got to looking at the odometer and realized that I quit riding in 2008 after I sold the Valkyrie. I rode the Triumph all of four hundred miles in about eighteen months. I was shocked to realize I had ridden so little. It just ceased to be important, I guess.
So I violated one of my own safety rules. I put my Ray Bans on, left my helmet in the closet and rode it the seven-tenths of a mile to fill up the tank. I ran the gas up to the fill line, turned the nozzle sideways and wiped the last drop of gas off with my fingers. A guy filling up his Ford Ranger pick up watched as I adjusted my shades and fired up the bike.
"Where you heading?" He leaned back against the Ranger.
"Wherever I end up, I guess."
" Man, I wish I were you."
"Well, you hang in there, now." I pulled away from the pumps. Last ride.