Motorcycling Career - Motorcycle Mama - Perspectives

I've been thinking of my mom a lot lately, and the unwavering support she's given me during my 35-year motorcycling career.

In general, I suspect dads register a bit higher than moms on the GMA (Grand Motorcycling Approval) scale. Dads, after all, typically have the macho/testosterone thing to deal with. If a kid shows even the slightest inclination toward two-wheelers, predisposed dads jump at the chance to secure a motorcycle for the garage-and to heck with the matrimonial consequences.

Moms, on the other hand, tend to see things like death and dismemberment, hooliganism and bad grades.

Luckily, my mom was different. She had some reservations about motor-cycles from Day One, but being the unselfish soul she is, she allowed a shiny, new red Honda Motosport 70 to be acquired and secreted into our garage in December 1972, just in time for me to "discover" it on the morning of the 25th.

She and I never talked about the miles of trails behind our home or the SL's shift pattern. Our bike-oriented interaction was limited to a dinnertime light-show; when supper was ready she'd flick the light on our back patio on and off, which told me, riding on our back trail hundreds of yards away, that I needed to get home ASAP.

She was the best sort of moto-mom. She cared and worried and fussed, but let me experience the thrills and spills on my own.

Of course, being young and clueless, I had no idea how lucky I was.

A year or two later, mom continued to play a key role as I graduated to motocross competition. She'd pack sandwiches and drinks for our family's Sunday sojourns to various Ohio tracks, and then turn and face the pits when my race blasted away from the starting gate. I teased her about worrying, knowing my 12-year-old body could never be hurt. But she knew better. And-surprise, surprise!-she was right.

When I took up motocross again in '83 after a five-year layoff during college, she was right there, helping me pay the bills and drive to the races. She helped me work my way from amateur to expert halfway through that season, and it's not a stretch to say I couldn't have done it without her.

When I snagged a job at Motorcyclist in '85 and moved away from home for good, my mom remained hugely supportive despite her sadness. Once, while visiting me in my SoCal digs on the weekend I was to race the WERA 24-Hour West for Team Vance & Hines, we rode together to Willow Springs on a Kawasaki Concours testbike, mom wrapped in a buddy's Aerostich suit. Despite my need to show her how nicely the Connie cruised at 90 mph, she bitched not one bit.

I lost my mom suddenly two weeks ago, and am dealing with a type of searing emotional pain only those who have been through this sort of loss can know. Fortunately, in the last few years she was able to spend a lot of time with my son Alex, her only grandchild, which gave her more joy than I can describe. Still, it'd been a long time since I'd thanked her for all the help and support she'd given me in my motorcycle pursuits. Given how important bikes have been to me over the years, that's a big deal.

So if you've got a mom who encouraged you to ride and experience life in a way only a motorcycle can offer, give her a big hug. Come to think of it, give her a hug regardless. As my father said to me the day mom passed away, "No one loves you like your mother."