Its a difficult thought to sell my motorcycles. Each one is a piece of me and I have had a lot of memories with them. While this attachment can be shared with anyone and their possession(s), I think this is a stronger bond for motorcycle riders. Our bikes are our livelihood and soul. Being on a bike brings power to your soul and your senses increase twofold. A riders life relies on the bike as we have no protective cage around us as found in a typical vehicle. You spend many hours just listening to the bike while on a long ride. You become attached to your bike and worry more about the wellbeing of the bike than yourself. It is an amazing thing to have in ones life, the bond and love for a machine.
Without being too sentimental or spreading my own philosophy, below is my first motorcycle and the experiences I have shared with it. In a way this is my memorial to my, soon to be, lost friend.
2008 Triumph Bonneville
I purchased my first motorcycle through eBay for my birthday in 2013. I knew I wanted a Triumph from the beginning, mainly due to Steve McQueen and his role in ‘The Great Escape’. That, and it is a beautiful modern classic bike. I must admit, when I first started shopping for a bike, I had no clue what I was doing. But eventually I found my future bike for sale in Baltimore and quickly won the bid.
Picking up the bike was extremely intimidating. I had only done a motorcycle safety course for my license and that was the extent of my knowledge. I had no clue what to look for on the bike to ens-
ure it is a good buy. I simply had to trust the guy selling it. Wendy brought the pups and I to his house to pay for the bike and ride off with it. Not know much about Baltimore at the time, we were certainly on high alert as we drove through some questionable areas with thousands of dollars on us. Eventually the environment became a bit more comforting and we could see the bike parked in a parking lot.
The seller asked if I wanted to test ride the bike out any, which I quickly said no. I didn’t want my inexperience to show through and make a fool out of myself trying to ride it. It was also getting dark soon, so we had to leave. Prior to leaving Wendy took a photo of my on my bike. The picture shows the uncertainty in my eyes through the helmet. I was so happy and scared at the same time. I was now on a bike with no guidance or direction from an instructor and was about to ride it on the highway at night for 30 miles to get home. This was a quick push into riding motorcycles, but I made it home without issue and loved every moment of the ride. It was only then that I realized the vulnerability a rider has; there is no seatbelt on a motorcycle. If we crash, we fly. If we get hit by a car, the car hits us directly and not the body of a protective cage. It was a bizarre realization that just added to the adrenaline rush.
I named this bike Scamp which was short for Scampo translates to escape, be free; childish. It was exactly how I felt when riding. I then embraced in many adventures that grew in time as I became comfortable and confident on the bike. It wasn’t until a year later that I experienced my first crash. I walked away fine as I always prepare for the worse. I continue to prepare as I know I will wreck again in the future. It is an aspect of riding.
The crash itself is bittersweet. I was leading a few friends on a ride and hit a sharp unmarked turn, sending me into the shoulder as I was tossed from the bike. As I got back up I couldn’t help but laugh. It’s how I deal with things, to laugh and put myself in a better mood. I was fine, but the bike took a good amount of damage to the front end. Eventually insurance would payout $4,300.00 to repair the bike. It was nearly the cost of the bike and quite surprising how quickly each part adds up. It was at this moment that I finally decided to work on my bike and customize it as I wanted. I was afraid to do it prior to the crash, but now I have no reason not to. I am thankful for that crash as it brought me into the mechanical world of motorcycles.
After a lot of trial and error, I finally transformed the bike into the machine that I had envisioned in my mind. It went from a classic and calm look to an aggressive and powerful look. I loved it and was very proud that I was able to produce results like this while living in a condo. Granted it took about two months to do, due to inexperience and space, but it was well worth it. Fortunately I was able to hop on bike without any residual fear from the wreck. I missed riding and couldn’t wait to get back into it. With a new look, I was back on the road and off to new adventures.
During this period, I ran into personal issues and became the demise of a good relationship and friendship that I had built since getting out of the military. Having no answers or direction, I really dived into my bike at this time to help myself through this transition and to find more as to why I made the choices I had made. Riding and working on a bike is very therapeutic, but it wasn’t enough as I still came home to an empty house. So after a long thought I decided to get the kind of dog I had wanted. I found my Husky from a breeder in PA and she was the exact dog I wanted. The stars really aligned and I brought home Kitiana.
I loved the dog and felt conflicted with spending time on the bike and not with her, and vice versa. So I would always joke that when she got older I would buy a sidecar so we could share adventures together. Eventually that joke evolved into a truth as I found myself researching sidecars. I initially wanted to install the sidecar myself to save money, but ultimately opted to have a professional do it since I will be giving people a ride in it and have no idea of the advanced physics and mounting required for proper placement.
In Spring of 2015 I picked up my bike with its sidecar from the builder in New Jersey. He explained the difference in riding style and suggested I be cautious while riding it. Within 5 minutes I was already lifting the sidecar up and having fun. Who needs to be cautious when you have confidence!? I really should have been more cautious, but I was fortunate to make it all the way home with the new setup without crashing. Typically new sidecar owners crash within the first hundred miles or so. To this day I have not crashed it, though I can easily see how it is possible. There has only been one moment where I took a corner too hard and had the sidecar tip to the point of having to put my foot down. A sidecar is such a fun experience, but I still missed being only on two wheels. I would soon purchase my second bike, which will be covered in a later post.
Kiti was a quick learner to the sidecar and fortunately was always excited to go for a ride (What dog wouldn’t though!?). In time I built her a custom platform seat and no longer needed to have her harnessed in. She was so great at it, to the point that I could have her sit and stay in the sidecar as I went into a store. During this time people and animals would come say hi, but she wouldn’t leave. Such a smart dog, I got very lucky. We rode together everywhere and we would embrace the sidecar uniqueness as we dressed up for Christmas as Santa and an Elf.
Riding a sidecar alone brings some attention to oneself. People rarely see them and get a good laugh when it passes them. They may not have any interest in a motorcycle, but a sidecar is something rare and exciting. I would get plenty of waves and thumbs up. Add a cute dog into the mix and people go nuts. I have never witnessed so many reckless people than when with Kiti on the bike. From taking pictures while driving to sprinting through an active intersection for a selfie; people needed to interact with me in someway or another just to tell their friends and family “look what I saw today!”. Personally, I loved this. Not the recklessness, but the fact that I can bring a moment of joy to people. They never had interest in me, I knew that, but rather it was the dog and sidecar combo. When people would take photos I would make sure to have my tinted visor down. I strived to remain anonymous as the focus is on the fact that person is riding a sidecar with a dog, not my eyes.
Scamp became a large part of my life. It evolved alongside me and is such a joy to ride and share my joy with others. While it hurts me to sell it, I hurt even more as I know I am taking away something my dog loves and that we bond together with. One day I will have another sidecar setup, not for me but for her. If I have the space and money in the future, I would even mount a sidecar to a wall in my house as her bed. She feels at home and safe in her sidecar.