They're tangled up in that box of fading Polaroids you really should have scanned someday, wound around the relic everybody else thinks you should sell. They save old Buco helmets, Jofa mouth guards and Bates leathers from garage sales and garbage cans. They're our roots. Tenuous filaments of memory and memorabilia winding their way back along improbable roads between the way we were and who we are. Some go back to better times. Others to days we'd just as soon forget. But they all add up to one simple fact: None of us would be here without them. So have a look at ours, and remember to take care of yours. Sort through those shoeboxes of family photos. Buff up the old Captain America helmet and rub some balm into some cracking leather. Then lay down something fresh between where you are and where you're going. Go for a ride.
A 13-year-old Lyle Lovett giving the steel-tank Penton Six Days a pre-race checkup and won
1971 Penton Six Days 125
"I had a Honda Z-50, a CT-70 and a Yamaha AT-1, but that '71 Penton Six Days was just beautiful. I read about John Penton, Tom Penton, Dane Leimbach, Dick Burleson and the ISDT. I kept a Penton brochure on my nightstand. We bought that steel-tank 125 in September of '71 and I rode the Family Enduro on it the next day in the Sam Houston National Forest. I never felt that cool before--or since! After that, I went to watch the motocross races with the sort of pride that comes with riding the same bike as the fast guys: 125cc Experts like Steve Hackney and Freddie Hanna. Hackney and Kevin Brown were going around the track on a Penton I'd never seen before: the first fiberglass-tank '72 in the Houston area. Just that quick, everything was different. You know, it was a great lesson in how you never really arrive."
Miguel Angel Galluzzi
Current Aprilia design chief and creator of the Ducati Monster
1959 Kreidler Florett 50
"As a present for my eighth birthday I got something which I was not expecting at all, and which would change my life forever. Around 1968, my head was 100 percent into music. The Beatles were the biggest thing around, but I was more into The Rolling Stones, so I was really hoping for a drum set just like Charlie Watts'. (Ringo Starr was too clean for my taste--not enough rock & roll!) So the present my brother and I (our birthdays are separated by 364 days) got from my uncle was this strange-but-fast '59 Kreidler Florett 50. At first we were disappointed, but from that moment on our lives changed forever. This little 50cc three-speed was the fastest streetbike around my neighborhood in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where I lived as a boy. Even without a rear brake--the cable broke and there were no spare parts--we rode all over the neighborhood. Up until this day we are both involved in motorcycling, my brother still racing motocross in the Senior class and myself creating them. An unexpected present changed my life! Today I am a frustrated drummer at heart, but my passion for music has not diminished a bit, just like my passion for motorcycles."
Former AMA 250cc GP Champion and proprietor of Roland Sands Designs
1979 Suzuki RM50
"My first bike was a Suzuki RM50. I got if for my fifth birthday. I remember being so excited on my way to Saddleback Park, I think I puked! My dad led me around all day and I followed him, keeping my eyes pointed forward. Near the end of the day, he led me to a tree in the middle of a picnic area protected by a fence made of laid-down telephone polls propped up with blocks of wood. As he led me around I began to get a little dizzy, and the RM decided to go its own direction with me still on it. Last thing I remember is heading toward a telephone poll, whiskey-throttle at what felt like 100 mph. I hit the pole, knocked it off the blocks and sent it rolling down the hill. I narrowly avoided being steamrolled as the pole tore down the hill toward a swing set, where a few kids were playing. What was supposed to protect them became a rolling death machine! Luckily all the children escaped harm. I was not so lucky--I was a mess. My dad loaded me up and delivered me to my first motorcycle-related emergency-room visit. I ended the day with a broken arm. Two months later I broke the same arm on a bicycle. The pain and excitement of riding have been with me since that day and I still love it!"
Team Giant mountain bike racer and U.S. Olympian
1987 Honda CR80
"My first motorized two-wheeler was a 1987 Honda CR80. I was loving it, riding tons and getting ready to race motocross at age 11 when an untimely crash and subsequent tibial-plateau fracture left me on crutches all summer. Mom sold the CR, got me a new Giant mountain bike and here I am. I was crushed at the time, but I suppose the plan worked out as I've gotten back into motorbikes between pedaling."
Actor best known as the original Batman
1965 Triumph Bonneville
"First for me was a Triumph Bonneville, about a '65 model. I got real cuddly with that machine, and used to ride it to the studios, even in a suit and tie in the rain. When I started filming Batman, I used to ride it to work. I could sleep 10 minutes longer. I've had dirtbikes and ridden some others since, but it's hard to forget a first love."