It started out with a day off - so I can blame my boss for this. He gave me a day off for working a hellish number of hours the previous week.
I decided, among other errands, that I’d satisfy my desire to look at scooters. I’ve been feeling the pinch of the current gas prices, I use about $5 per day to commute, so a scooter seems like a practical device.
I would walk into a store, point at myself, and ask what they had that could move me around. I made the mistake of walking into what was primarily a motorcycle store at first. They had the Suzuki Bergman but nothing smaller. $8k for the Bergman. Gee, the Honda Shadow & Suzuki Boulevard on the showroom floor are $1500 cheaper and much much cooler. That Bergman looks easy to drive, though. Might look like a dork, though. Thanks - I’ll think about it.
Intrigued by the possibility but scared by the learning curve, I left the dealer.
But, gee… around the corner is another dealer. I went there. They weren’t Honda & Suzuki like the first, they turn out to be Kawasaki, Yamaha & Victory. They’ve got a “super scooter” like the Bergman, too, the T-Max. Also $8k.
While you’re here, hmm - that Vulcan 900 is very pretty. Very, very pretty.
A couple days later I get a call from the salesman at the second dealer. They’re clearing out their 2008 floor models and that Vulcan is 10% off. Damn. I didn’t need a decision like this right now. I’m a big one for buyer’s remorse, I second-guess almost any purchase over $20 for days and days.
I told him I’d be in that evening to take another look.
I couldn’t resist - the allure of it all - the Je Ne Sais Quoi. Years and years I’ve wanted a motorcycle but never followed up on that wish. So - obvious at this point in the story, I bought the thing and then signed up for the MSF course held next door.
For two days, we did 25 miles in that parking lot, a space maybe 20 by 50 yards. Round and round, back and forth.
For the whole course, I fought the damn bike. It was too small for me, the controls were ill-placed for a man of my size. My knees were bent too far back, my hips ached, and I kept missing the forward controls with my feet when I tried to use them. Still, I was doing pretty well.
Something started to change though as the second day wore on. What I could do at 2:00 was not working right at 4:00. It was so noticeable the instructor called me over and asked if I was OK. I was tired, beaten & told him so but also told him that wanted to tough it out - see it through - and while I didn’t do well on the “final exam”, I did pass it, just barely, but I passed it.
I took my MSF card, went next door, and picked up my bike. I drove home (about 4 miles) on the back-roads, trying to get the feel for this much heavier motorbike.
It’s now three weeks. In that time, I’ve put 500 miles on it and I’m in love. I’m probably obnoxiously single-minded about it right now. My desktop wallpaper is now a motorcycle. I’m reading up on motorcycles.
I’ve taken it on two long drives already, about 100 miles each, trying to keep it under 50 mph because of the break-in. The mountain roads are good for that - most have a 45 mph speed limit. The rest of the miles are around town, commuting & the like.
After the first long ride, I arrived back in town and decided to stop by the MSF course & show my instructor the bike. It was soooo much better than the training bikes. The large frame of the Vulcan fits my body so much better and I’m not fighting the machinery just to operate it.
I rode about 110 miles by that time that day and I arrive at the right-hand turn into the course’s parking lot. I signal, slow, and begin to turn. There’s the squeal of brakes and a loud double thump.
I come to a rapid stop (my MSF course skills handy there - didn’t hit the fence, didn’t drop the bike, stopped cleanly).
The guy behind me, a Magnum station wagon, had tried to pass me on the right as I was turning right. I checked - my right-turn signal was on - still blinking from where I didn’t cancel it after I stopped.
There’s bike lane on the right side of that street. The guy saw me slow, he saw me move left a bit (to improve my turning radius), and decided to pass me in the bike lane. Damn - here I am doing it all right and this jerk decides to pass me illegally, despite my turn signal. “I thought you were going to turn left,” he said.
The double-thump was him dragging his tire & suspension through a very deep ditch that parallels the road. I hope it messed up his alignment. Just desserts.
My second long ride was this weekend - turns out I chose a road being used for a rally that day. I got my pic snapped by a photographer recording the ride. Nice!