The Dark Years

gs550eI rode Zook, my 1980 Suzuki GS550E, for many years. It outlasted my marriage, and I took it with me when I moved to Maine afterward. Despite having a trailer, I refused to use it for this one way trip, even though it would’ve been easier. No, I was determined to RIDE my bike from its old home to its new one. And ride it there I did, as well as all over the state of Maine. One advantage of the courier work I did at the time was that I ended up learning many roads very quickly. I made mental notes of the quiet twisty ones with good pavement, and returned there on two wheels when I wasn’t working.

The disadvantage of the courier work is that it went away. I didn’t get laid off – I just stopped getting hours and deliveries to make. Sure, there was a slow week every now and then, but a slow week became two weeks, then became a month, which became more… I was living pretty cheap, in a house with several friends, but with the lack of work and no lack of bills, I found myself with a lack of money to pay those bills. I was forced to take some drastic measures to make ends meet. One of those drastic measures was selling my motorcycle.

My friend Christina bought it. She drove up to visit, and while she was there we loaded it up in the back of her Toyota pickup. She gave me some cash to live on a little while longer and took the bike with her. I was glad it was going to a good home. She’s more meticulous about maintaining her vehicles than I am, and I knew that Zook would be in good hands. At the same time, I was sad that I had to give up this part of my life to make ends meet.

realzookFor two years I had no motorcycle at all. I did find another job, but not the time or the money to get another bike. I must’ve put myself into a state of denial, telling myself I didn’t really miss it that much. It was pretty easy – after all, I still got to travel all over the state delivering stuff for work. Somehow I managed to ignore the detail of a 22 foot box truck being a whole lot less fun to drive than a motorcycle.

A couple of years later, I became friends with Deb, a friend of a friend sort of thing. As we talked, she learned of my previous interest in motorcycles, and I learned of her possession of one, a 1982 Honda CM250 Custom. She had moved to Maine from New Jersey recently, and didn’t have the time or money to register the bike or get her Maine motorcycle license (she only had a learner’s permit from New Jersey, which wasn’t valid outside of the state).

She must’ve been able to see through my denial. She could tell that I hadn’t given up riding by choice, and that I missed it. So she made me an offer I couldn’t refuse – to loan me her bike for the summer. Legally, she’d sell me her bike for $1. I’d register and insure it myself. Then, when she wanted it back, I’d sell it back to her for $1. The idea was so crazy, it just might work. So we went for it. In fact, I paid extra for the bike – we signed the paperwork at Gritty’s, the local brew pub, and I bought her a $2 beer special (Scottish Ale, I believe) in exchange for the bike.

cm250The thing was tiny, especially compared to the 550 I was used to and my bikes that followed. But for cruising around town, it was the best handling bike I’ve ever had. It was so small and light I could flick it around corners like nothing. It didn’t have much power, being a 250. It was fine in town and on the 50mph state highways between towns, but 65 was about where it topped out, and it was kind of scary on the interstate. No big deal – the interstates aren’t as much fun anyway. It was a good little bike. It ran perfectly, and there was nothing wrong with it. It felt good to putt around on a bike again, and this was a good bike to get a feel for riding again after not riding for a couple of years.

A couple of months later, Deb moved away, and politely asked for her bike back. I didn’t want to give up a bike again, but I was true to my word, sold it back to her for $1 (I don’t remember or care if I actually collected or not), and took one last ride out through coastal Maine to deliver it to the barn she’d keep it in for the winter. She drove me home, and I was without a motorcycle again. I swore it would not be for long.

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