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Last Ride

Updated on July 25, 2010

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.

My buddies called me Chrome Dome.
My buddies called me Chrome Dome.
Paul Michael Glaser would be proud of the shoes.
Paul Michael Glaser would be proud of the shoes.

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.

Loaded up on the new owner's trailer.

Take the poll!

Do you think I am through riding motorcycles this time?

See results


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    • resspenser profile imageAUTHOR

      Ronnie Sowell 

      7 years ago from South Carolina

      Every time I see the picture of the Valkyrie I wonder what I was thinking! If i were a rich man.....

      I always have ridden solo, wife hates motorcycles which makes owning one somewhat of a problem. But I think one more is in order.

      Thanks fro stopping by, Ghost. Hang in there and maybe you ought to think about a Scrambler!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      The heck with the Triumph. I want that Valkyrie. Always did want one, from the moment they hit the market.

      Nope. Never got one.

      Never owned a bike at all till I was 41 years of age. Worked up (gradually) from a Kawasaki KZ 200 to a Suzuki Intruder 1400. Which I took through a sweeping right turn in Rapid City, SD, in 1997, at 86 mph--jump-chattering that shaft drive through the turn, pushing a big windshield with a B on the back (Pam), chasing a 1200 Sportster the guy was all proud of.

      Sold my last bike in 2007. Pam's ailments finally made it too painful (literally) for her to straddle the back seat, and it started feeling just WRONG to be out there solo with her stuck at home all wistful and everything.

      But the Valkyrie....

      It's not the reflexes, either. No excuses there whatsoever. Mine ARE as sharp as they ever were.

      But if I do ever buy another scoot, considering the nasty off-grid unpaved surfaces between our place and the'll be a trike.

      Voted Up and Other Stuff.

    • resspenser profile imageAUTHOR

      Ronnie Sowell 

      8 years ago from South Carolina

      Thanks for the comment. I sometimes wish I were Jay Leno!!!

    • vietnamvet68 profile image


      8 years ago from New York State

      I was never into bikes, I was into the Old cars and I know what you mean, they are hard to get rid of, sometimes I wish I had my old classics back.

    • resspenser profile imageAUTHOR

      Ronnie Sowell 

      8 years ago from South Carolina

      Flying gliders? Tell me you made that up!

      I kept my helmet and jacket. A used Triumph Thunderbird would be nice in a couple of years.

    • Storytellersrus profile image


      8 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      resspenser, those are the reasons I gave up flying gliders. You have to keep at them in order to remain safe and, well, I had other priorities. If you are truly done, I hope you find something that inspires your sense of adventure. Mine is creeping up on me, itching for excitement, lol. And I am only two years behind you!!!

    • resspenser profile imageAUTHOR

      Ronnie Sowell 

      8 years ago from South Carolina


      I had to tweak that old photo quite a bit, but it was worth it. Thanks for the comment.

    • resspenser profile imageAUTHOR

      Ronnie Sowell 

      8 years ago from South Carolina

      TJ, Thanks for reading. I have had some stuff over the years.

    • World-Traveler profile image


      8 years ago from USA

      Well that was great. To see the old Harley. To be honest I never got past a Honda 90. It was a great ride. Thanks for the memories!

    • profile image

      T J BAILEY 

      8 years ago





    • resspenser profile imageAUTHOR

      Ronnie Sowell 

      8 years ago from South Carolina


      I wondered if you were like Bria in that respect as well. I found out without prying! Thanks for checking out my Hub.


      I may be done just gets in your blood.

      Thanks for the comment

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I grew up in a time when motorcycles were not popular as they are now or even when you bought yours, so I have never owned one. A high school friend of mine who was the last person I would have associated with them, bought one when he was working overseas. He still has it and that was 1960 something.

      My brother-in-law is in his eighties and still rides.

    • lmmartin profile image


      8 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      I relate -- I had to give up riding racehorses and hang up my cowboy hat. Aging really sucks sometimes.


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