Tim Timmons | Crawfordsville, IN

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June 13, 2021

2/8/2014 3:46:00 PM
A motorcycle or midlife crisis?

Back when we were kids, one of my pals was Dave Hildebrand, the current top cop in Cicero. Dave, or Bub as he was known back then, and a few other friends all had bikes. No, not Schwinn or Huffy. Bikes with engines. Motorcycles.
Not me.
It was going to be a cold day you know where before Mrs. Timmons on James Road was going to allow her son to own a motorcycle. Dad wasn't really crazy about the idea either.
So I envied Bub and the guys and pouted in my old, reliable '67 Chevy pickup.
Those days are long gone, but one thing that's never changed is my desire to get a bike. So, call it a midlife crisis, immaturity, never growing up (I'm trying to think of the other things my wife said), but about a year ago I bought a motorcycle. And no, I haven't gotten leather chaps, joined a gang or anything like that.
To say I'm a rookie at this point would probably be an insult to rookies. I tend to stay on the back roads and enjoy the ride.
Truth to tell, I almost didn't buy the bike. Heck, I almost didn't survive the test ride.
Through our paper I found this old bike for sale. It was a decent size, an 800. I'm a decent size (let's leave it at that) so it seemed to be a good fit. Now, it's important to this story to explain that I have ridden a motorcycle in the past. I don't believe Bub ever let me ride his. If you know him, it makes sense. He's always been a pretty smart guy. When I worked at the Lafayette Journal & Courier a buddy had a bike and he let me ride it. Maybe three times. So yes, I had, ahem, experience.
I looked at the bike and liked it. We talked about it for a while. I said I'd think about it. A week later I went back. We talked some more. Another week went by. Finally, I asked my wife to go with me because I was pretty serious about buying it. My wife is not a sarcastic person by nature, but she is world class when it comes to rolling her eyes. This time, I wasn't sure they were ever going to roll back.
The price was pretty reasonable - it's an old bike and the owner and I were pretty close to shaking hands. My wife asked if I was going to give it a test ride first and, well, that made sense to me.
It's important to note that we were in a gravel drive. A gravel drive that just had new gravel put down. So when I got on the bike - did I mention that it was approximately 35 years ago when I worked at the Lafayette Journal & Courier - I was a bit rusty. Rusty like you would find on an old metal shed abandoned in the woods.
Starting it was no problem. But when I gently began letting go of the clutch the back wheel spun some loose gravel. That led to letting up on the throttle which led to a serious wobble which led to more gas which led to more spitting gravel . . . the next thing I knew, I was flying up the drive. My brain knew one side was the throttle and the other side was the brake, my hands just didn't seem to be listening. My feet were on high alert though. Turns out, I nearly scraped the bottoms of a pair of Weejuns as I tried to get out of what was quickly becoming warp speed.
At the end of the drive was a highway. All I can say is I'm thankful there was no traffic because I shot straight across that patch of asphalt like I'd been shot out of a cannon.
My wife said she screamed. I never heard her. It was either because of my own primal screams of terror or the fact that I had broken the sound barrier and the noise couldn't catch up with me.
Straight ahead was interesting. There was a telephone pole and a sign. To this day I'm not quite sure how I managed to slip between the two. But I did and it was around this point that my hand, quite on its own, relaxed its death grip on the throttle and I began slowing down. I eventually coasted to a stop although it took a few days for the shaking to go away.
All's well that ends well. I bought the bike and it really is fun. I'm a bit better at riding it now. And heck, besides the bike, I did got a new pair of Weejuns out of the deal.

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