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2016 Ride will be June 10th -June 12th and will be starting at Clare-Mar Lakes Campground


Alan Sheidler


   We just have to be legion.  That is to say, I know I can’t be alone in letting the urge to ride remain dormant during the years of a pause, then returning to the fold to twist the right grip again.  Catterson related in the March issue that his brother is, or was, in the midst of one.  Some of us just have motorcycle ownership interrupted by life for a while.  Certainly the reasons behind such occurrences cover many normal experiences for humans, related to timing, family, or economics.

   There was never an expectation that my own self-induced ownership gap would be nearly so lengthy.  The day I sold my ’78 GS750 Suzuki, I already had in mind a replacement, sure to be not more than a couple of years away.  I was lusting after one of the mind-bending V-Fours Honda was producing at the time. That was in 1985.

   Through the labyrinth woven by days that stretch into months and then years, I never really doubted that I’d be riding again; it just took way longer than I could have conceived.  Divorce, finances, business ownership, marriage, parenthood… are in retrospect all valid priorities.  But still, I have a hard time understanding why the expected short dry spell turned into such an extended draught.  There were indeed times when I was more than a little wistful watching others enjoy the quenching my parched existence was enduring.

   Firmly entrenched in my life is a pilot light who made sure the fire never completely extinguished:  Vern Ebert, the embodiment of a true motorcyclist, and friend for eternity.  He never gave up on getting two back under me, even in the darkest of times, when I could only peer into the future from behind headlights spaced four feet apart.  If all riders had someone like Vern to occupy a lane with, there would be few who actually sold their last bike before the final blip on the oscilloscope.

   The year 2000 provided a so-brief biking excursion, which reinforced the certainty of eventually taking advantage of what the MC endorsement on my license allows.  During a week’s stay in Australia, casting about for a way to spend a free day, I happened upon a listing for a shop in Sydney that rented motorcycles.  It was easy to consider that to be a prospect much more appealing than splashing about under a sail in the harbor.  The owner expected me to want one of the thumping American bikes, since I was “from The States”.  No.    

   Credit card and signatures later I was out the door leg-hugging a dazzling pearl yellow VFR, which displayed only a few hundred kilometers on the register.  Royal National Park to the south was my playground for that gloriously sunny day of cobweb cleaning.  After an evening dinner and some sleep, I crossed the Bay Harbour Bridge at 6 AM, and spent the remainder of my lease touring the Sydney Harbour National Park.  How I hated to return that uninhibited mistress at the end of our 24 hour affair.  It took most of the day-long flight back to reality before my heart-rate returned to normal.  Leaving such a willing, thrilling, and capable partner behind was tough!

   Four years passed, and I was still waiting.  My buddy schemed to get me involved in true insanity: Riding a very small bike with a group of the afflicted in a one-day blast around Lake Erie.  He was picking up a Honda 125S that qualified for the middle class, and the seller just happened to also have available a cool and cherry ’90 Honda NS50F which should be great for class 1.  The world seemed to tip an extra degree on its axis, and that little two-stroke bike wound up in my garage.  In 2006, it was joined by a ’75 Yamaha RD200B, showing only 950 miles, obtained with another Lake Erie Loop and Class 3 in mind.

   Bikes that small can be great for solo town riding, but actually getting out and going somewhere with any authority and comfort means more and bigger metal holes to burn fuel in, with a chassis and seat to match.  Fast forward to the spring of 2008, when petrol users were clutching their chests and gas prices were accelerating to $4/gallon and beyond.  My main mode of transportation was a Chevy Suburban, and feeding its eight injectors could easily run between $75 and $100, Per Week!  Talk about pumping the cash well dry!  Much of the rolling time was expended transporting either of two teen sons to school or various athletic endeavors.  My econo-box was not running, and the RD was not enough bike for two.

   Necessity and serendipity collided.  Along came an opportunity to buy a decent example of a 1983 Honda V45 Sabre.  Not a showroom-clean one, but a nice looking and great running version, with a Corbin seat being the only modification.  All that summer, it was two-wheel taxi, on a bike that I had lusted after 25 years before.  I was undeniably reborn.  Ears once sentenced to silence have now enjoyed thousands of miles of sweet V-4 music.  Don’t tell the Honda, but it really isn’t the ride of my dreams anymore.  One day the title will be in someone else’s file cabinet and I’ll be off on something shiny and new.  In the meantime, I can still enjoy feeling as though I have risen from the ashes, to claim my rightful place astride.  For those who have also found a way to escape a period when personal transportation is limited to a cage, welcome back.  Readers still in the limbo of a pause, you have the correct publication in your hands.  End the drought.  Pour yourself a ride.

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