First Motorcycle Ride Experience - Lean Angle

I Think I'm In Trouble

I'm betting everyone remembers their first motorcycle ride. I sure do. The year was 1970, the place the front yard of my dad's college-buddy's house in Columbus, Ohio. The bike was a Honda Z50, the early hardtail version. Basically, I jumped on, turned the throttle to the stop-and never let off. Stuck the thing into a hedge in a major way. I'll never forget it.

I had two more first-ride experiences this past month, both of the semi-vicarious variety. The first was my buddy Marc's very first racetrack ride. You're thinking, "That's not all that special," and you're right-until you consider the last time he even rode a motorcycle was in 1981! Marc tells the story in his own words on page 100.

The second first-ride experience was even cooler-my son Alex's very first ride on the back of a streetbike. He's 10, so that might seem like a bit of a stretch given what I do for a living. But it's true. Over the years I've probably asked him once a month if he'd like to go for a ride around the block with me. But each time he shook his head in a blas sort of way and said, "Naaaa," and I've let it drop. He's a good baseball player and a heckuva skateboarder, so I figure he's getting his Minimum Daily Requirement of thrills and spills.

I'm split on the whole kid-riding thing, whether it's on the back of a streetbike with me or a dirtbike of his own. Either is likely to eventually lead to street riding, and although the whole streetbike/roadracing thing has been a wonderfully fulfilling part of my life, I'm not sure I'm comfortable with him doing it. Part of me is OK with it, the other part is horrified by the idea. You bike-riding moms and dads will understand the latter sentiment. Am I being a hypocrite? I guess I am.

Anyway, during a weekend BBQ a few weeks ago, Alex punched me on the arm and said, "Hey, Dad, how about that motorcycle ride?" I've been saving a women's leather jacket I found a couple of years ago for this very moment, so I dug it out, had him put on his jeans and hiking boots, grabbed some small-sized motocross gloves and stuck one of my full-face helmets on him (He's got a really big head!).

Ten minutes later we were rolling through our neighborhood. We only rode two or three miles that evening, but he liked it enough to bug me later that evening about going again, which we did the following morning, doing a full lap of our town-about 15 miles. We even stopped at his cousins' house to show off a bit before heading home.

He definitely enjoyed himself the following day, and kept saying, "Hey, Dad, this is fun." I flashed immediately on my own backseat experiences with my dad on his '71 Honda CL450 and '72 Suzuki GT750 Water Buffalo back in Ohio-waving to other riders, being amazed at the power of those huge machines (Hey, I was riding a Honda SL70 at the time!), how great it felt to be moving through the summer air so quickly, all of it.

Of course, now I'm getting more requests for rides than I can handle, and the subject of a dirtbike has surfaced. If I can find a way to parry the narrow-eye looks I'm getting from my wife, I'm thinking we're in for some trips to the desert very soon.

Hope your bike-riding summer is going as well as ours.