Ever since I was younger I wanted a motorcycle. It wasn’t a need, but more of an passing interest. I have had a long history of those and have been prudent, I think, in if/how I indulge them. Having a motorcycle always took the back seat, so to speak — especially when I had children and kissed anything resembling discretionary spending goodbye. I didn’t have time or money.
Last year I finally decided that I had waited long enough. I enrolled for a motorcycle learning course and passed my written exam a mere two days before it started. I rode a bicycle when I was a kid (equipped with playing cards to simulate the engine sound more than once), and I even had a four-wheeler when I was a teenager, so it wasn’t much of a jump to get the hang of things. By the time I had passed my license test, it was a matter of weeks before I had managed to get my very own little Honda Shadow Spirit VT1100C. I named it Caboose after a favorite Red vs. Blue character. Last summer I put on about 1900 miles on Caboose. To my great joy, I’ve found that being on a motorcycle can be a very zen experience. Also, you simply cannot beat the unspoken camaraderie that exists between fellow riders.
I managed to make it through the winter with only a few whiny moments about missing my motorcycle. As soon as it was arguably warm enough to ride this year, I got Caboose ready. I even managed to change the oil all by myself. For those unfamiliar with me, this is an event that much like Obama’s dropping of the Cuban embargo. I took this moment as some rite of passage — a machine made me care enough about its welfare that I actively learned how to maintain it by my own accord and careful research. Since then I’ve been picking up odds and ends for it. I picked up some saddlebags, which in turn has me picking up a taillight relocation kit. Seriously, don’t ask me about this stuff because it’s eating up my precious and dwindling unused grey matter like a starving dog.
Another thing is that I’ve been highly conscious of is safety. Specifically, keeping the thing that encases my grey matter safe. There were a great number of motorcycle deaths last year, and nearly every story had a similar theme: No helmet. There’s a reason, I suppose, that the insurance industry refers to them as “donorcycles”. I’m not lining up to be a statistic. Go full Power Ranger or go home. However, there is something to be said for wearing full leather in 90-degree heat. So I’ve been experimenting with various clothing combinations to see what works. After a great deal of trying this and that, I’ve found that there is a reason that bikers wear vests. Christ, if I could wear this thing all the time, I would.
Now let’s add the final layer…
My daughter got me involved in Sons of Anarchy on NetFlix a few weeks ago. If you had just met me, you’d quickly come to the same conclusion that my Ex did: Holy fucking mid-life crisis, Batman. I’m really not sure about that diagnosis, but it’s hard to completely discount it. While I can vehemently deny that Sons didn’t cause my new-found love of riding, there are compelling arguments that it’s fed it richly.
So am I having a mid-life crisis? It’s honestly hard for me to say. I’m going to be 42 in less than a month and I think that qualifies as mid-life. But I really don’t see it as a crisis. If anything it’s been a salvation. It’s the cheapest therapy I’ve ever had and far more effective. My brother rides, but our time spent together is sporadic. So last week I made the jump to join a motorcycle club.
Now is when your mid-life crisis detector should be going off the charts. I can hear you from here, mumbling under your breath, “Poor guy…” I assure you that, one, as the evidence mounts I’m fully cognizant that I’m losing any hopes of defending myself against the charge, but it should be noted that this is a very recreational club. My only goal is to meet a lot of other riders and go on some rides. To my knowledge they’re not running guns or coke. But keep in mind that none of my close friends ride, so I’m just waiting patiently for them to have their own mid-life crises and gently steer them to riding. Until that happens, I need to find out where this road takes me.