When I was maybe seven or eight the boy next door came home from college on a toaster-tank BMW, and was giving the neighbor kids rides around the block. I begged and pleaded with my Mom – ‘PleaseI’llbecarefulI’llhangontightPleasecanIgoCanIgoPleaseI’llbecarefulPlease….’ – until she finally gave in. Yay! 😁👍

Gene and I were halfway around the block when I got this thought, like a crystal-clear voice in my head, that said ‘I’m going to HAVE one of these someday!’ The moment was so profound that, forty years later, I was able to take my wife to that exact spot and say ‘There! That’s where it all began!’ 🤷‍♀️

Right about there is where that lightning bolt inspiration struck me!

We were not allowed to have motorcycles when we were kids; not even minibikes, which were all the rage at the time. The closest I got to the chopper of my dreams was some plastic modelling kits and a Sting-Ray bicycle.

Not my Sting-Ray – this one is listed on eBay for $1200 😳 – but this is the color and year I had.

Of course, on the sly I rode anything with a motor – minibike, moped, dirtbike, whatever – whenever anyone was dumb enough to let me, but that wasn’t often. We lived in a ‘nice’ suburban town, and actual bikers were hard to find. The boy next door and Steve down the street, who had a BSA, were the only people I knew with real motorcycles, and they were **never** dumb enough to let me near the controls! 😆

As noted in previous posts, I spent my teen years drinking and drugging – a lot and very badly – and it wasn’t until I put all that aside, at the age of 21, that I could get serious about putting together the money for my first motorcycle. It took a year of sobriety to clean up my rather messy financial history, and working two jobs while going to school full-time on the GI Bill, but I finally got together the down-payment. With that in hand I got the nod from the credit union to begin shopping. Yay again! 😁👍

I toddled off to the Harley-Davidson dealership – I already knew I wanted a Harley – but the guy there was such a jackass that I turned around and walked out. Smart move, because half a block up the street I saw a Harley for sale in a used car lot. It was black, low, lean and mean, one of the prettiest things I’d ever seen, and looked like it might be everything I ever wanted.

I could not have been more right.

I called this biker I’d met in sobriety – a lawyer, of all things, who built choppers! – and asked him to come look at the bike with me. He came down and we went over the bike together. It was a 1974 Harley-Davidson Superglide FX with a 74 cubic inch shovelhead motor, a kickstarter (no electric start then or now) and disc brakes fore and aft. After he took it for a test ride (I did not yet have my motorcycle license) Wayne gave it the thumbs-up, and the deal was done. I completed the paperwork at the credit union, conveniently located just around the corner from the used-car lot, and spent a near-sleepless night as keyed up as a kid at Christmas.

The next day – April 11th, 1979 – I threw my leg over my very first Harley for the very first time. That’s right: Forty-four years ago today I answered the call I heard that long-ago afternoon, on the back of Gene Graf’s BMW. After years of wishing and wanting and dreaming about it, I finally HAD me one of those things! 😎

And forty-four years later, I still have that same motorcycle. I’ve had a few others along the way, but that one is my ride-or-die keeper. She (for she is a girl, make no mistake) is no longer black, and not as low or quite as lean as she was (neither am I, for that matter 😏 ) but she is still the prettiest thing I have ever seen. She’s still gorgeous, and righteous, and I still love her dearly.

Sad to say, a series of unfortunate events (primarily a disabling OTJ accident) have kept me off my one true love (machine division) for several years, but I still harbor a hope that we may still find a way to be together again.

However, in the meanwhile, and with the support of my one true love (human division) I have secured a different bike, better suited to my disabilities. She’s big and fat and shiny and loud, and so new-fangled and complicated I dare not touch most of her more intimate components, but I’ve already had my hands on her, a little bit, doing little fix-its and adjustments, and once that happens love is sure to follow. She’ll never displace my shovelhead – seriously, what could? – but I have a good feeling about her. 🥰

My new-to-me 2016 Harley-Davidson Freewheeler. Now all I have to do is unlearn forty-four years of training, practice and instinct I’ve accumulated riding a two-wheeler, and learn the proper handling of a three-wheeler. For those who don’t know: it’s a very different style of riding!

So, Happy Anniversary to my 1974 Harley-Davidson FX 1200 Superglide – my beloved shovelhead – and thank you, thank you, thank you for all the years of joy and adventure you brought me. Let’s go for forty-four more, eh? 😁

Yes, sir, that’s my baby. No, sir, I don’t mean ‘maybe.’ Yes, sir, that’s my baby now!

And don’t you go getting jealous of the new kid. She’s just here to help. 🤣