Tuesday, December 14, 2004
The following is an article from Cycle Canada's January 2005 edition. It was written by a fellow COG member, and is reprinted with permission from the author. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
“Dad, remember that guy that I’ve been hanging out with? Well, he just bought a motorcycle.” This, the teenage daughter pronounced as if it were the same as picking up the daily newspaper.
Outwardly, Dad did not change expression or move. Inwardly, he froze at the kitchen table, the August 2004 issue of Cycle Canada suddenly clenched in his hands. The mother-of-all-ironies had just been neatly dumped in his lap and a small bead of sweat formed on his brow.
His daughter on the back of a teenager-ridden bike!?!?
He could not budge. He could not read. In panic, he recalled the passage from Frank Herbert’s DUNE.
"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear…”
In the old days, Dad used to squire teenage girls around on a succession of clap-trap machines including a wobbly S-65 Honda, a couple of leading-link Honda 90’s with knobbies and high-pipes, a beat-up, bungee-chorded Superhawk that required bump-starting, and a truly horrid, gas-leaking, farting Norton Commando.
But that was different.
Scant moments before, Dad had been cursing Costa Mousouris for his wimpy review of the new, 140 BHP, 2.3 litre Triumph Rocket III. He had been imagining himself as Cycle Canada’s Replacement Chief Test Pilot and knew in his heart the type of bold impressions and observations he and the boys could provide for faithful readers if only they had a chance:
“…this baby carried 3 buddies and me through the quarter in under 11 seconds. There was some buffeting at the top end.”
“…we slapped some dune buggy tires on the Triumph and had a hell of an afternoon ripping around the Barrie ½ Mile. Serious riders may want to remove the rear fender so they can achieve better roosts.”
“…this puppy seemed to attract notice wherever we went. It gathered a bit of a following on the 401 as we test-dragged 2 Harley FLHRs behind 50 feet of ship chain out past the Pickering nuclear plant.”
“…we entered the Rocket III in the exhibition class at the Muskegon AMA hillclimb on the weekend and had a blast. It was remarkable what a tankfull of nitro and a tractor-chained rear wheel can do to an otherwise sedate street machine.”
These musings blurred and faded and he returned from dreamland to see the inquisitive face of his teenage daughter. Like Gandalf facing the Balrog he knew that the next few seconds would be critical.
“That’s nice. Do you know what kind of bike he got?”, he intoned (please God, make it a Burgman).
“I think it’s a Suzuki 600” she replied calmly.
Dad gathered himself for his next stab. Fear is the mind-killer...
“Wouldn’t be one of those racy bikes with the little handlebars and a short windshield would it?” Dad continued against all hope, picturing some punk-maniac practicing stoppies with his daughter on board.
“I think so, it’s a “600 R” or something”, she said.
In an instant Dad was overwhelmed with flashes from idiot-teenage-bike-days gone-by: neighbour Mike trying to wheelie a bizarre 175 Terrot with a cast on his broken leg; grinning Tommy laying “patches” up and down the street on a flame-blowing Norton P11 with straight-pipes and a giant overlay sprocket; then-skinny Dad flattening both cast wheels on his FT 500 Honda after hitting a huge chunk of steel on the 401; smart John riding across front lawns on an expansion chamber-equipped ISDT-type 360 Maico…
He came back to earth, breathed deeply and continued like Team Canada, down 2 penalized players to the Russians,
“Not sure how comfortable those bikes are. Are they the ones where the passenger sits on a little patch, way up in the air?”. Fear is the little-death...
Dad had started to wilt – yes, teenage daughter had one of those high-butt tattoos and he could just picture the pair carving past him on the highway, oblivious to his terror.
Daughter stared at him from across the generation. She was composed and patient, as usual.
How could he possibly say “no”? Worse, how could he possibly say “yes?”. A sudden vision of “flat-track testing” the high school cinder track at 3 in the morning hit his brain like a flashbulb. Well, at least he knew what he was doing back then – unlike today’s teenage rap-whacko’s.
As he slumped forward clutching his chest, Daughter came to the rescue.
“Dad, don’t worry. I won’t be going on it for another year at least. He wants to take a safety course and then get some experience on it before taking passengers”.
Dad’s brain pressure dropped as rapidly as the punctured front tire on his old XT 500 Yamaha. That was the time he dumped it in rush hour traffic on Bayview and broke his (other) foot. Six months later he was able to watch the boys burn his crutches in a typically thoughtful and therapeutic gesture.
He gazed out the window at his Kawasaki Concours but then drifted again, smiling slightly at the memory of the boys putting on spectacular, night-time displays in the Yonge St. tunnel, using kill-switches to trigger great, cracking backfires…dropping centrestands to shower unsuspecting followers with a shitstorm of sparks... applying alternating blasts of throttle and brakes to see who might be able to flip an unwary passenger off the back…ah, those were the days...
Now to pull off something on the domestic front. He had less than a year.
I will face my fear…