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My love of motorcycles started with the discovery of a photo of my parents on their 1937 Triumph Tiger S80. The reason they rode was the simple. They were young, had little money and needed transportation. So my Dad went to his brother (my Uncle Ken, a master mechanic) and asked what he might be able to dig up. So Uncle Ken said let's go to the garage to see what we can find. After rooting through some boxes they found the equivalent of a mostly complete bike. The rebuilt the engine, boring it out from a 350cc to a 420cc and scrounged the remaining pieces. Later on when my eldest sister was born they constructed a side car (Uncle Ken welded a frame and Dad made the body from wood strapping and canvas),

They had their spills; there was one time when Dad leaned into a turn and Mum didn't. There was another when Dad forgot that a bike with a sidecar doesn't counter steer.

They rode that bike for some time before retiring it for a cage. I think it had something silly to do with my second sister being born.

So how does this relate to me starting to ride? Simple, I was young (between high school and college in 1985), had little money and needed transportation. So I hunted around and found a bike that fit my budget and proceeded to put a down payment on my 1979 KZ200-A2 in firecracker red. The only thing I had to do was break the news to Dad. So, I sat across from him at the kitchen table and told him about the bike at which point he advised me "There is no way on God's green earth you're buying a motorcycle". At which point I produced the picture of my Uncle Don, my Dad and my Mum (see above). His response was simple, "When were you thinking of picking that up?"

$735 later my Dad drove me to (what used to be) Hearst Yamaha on the Queensway West in Mississauga one VERY rainy evening. Dad really wasn't very thrilled about the weather (he had a good, point as it was really coming down). But we made it there and I proudly rode my first vehicle back home across the GTA back to Agincourt without mishap.

That bike got me through college and through several road trips across southern Ontario frequenting places like Brantford, Kingston and Coboconk. It cost me a whopping $2.75 to fill the tank (I think gas was around $0.29/litre) and was quite simply freedom on wheels.

I rode in the sun, I rode in the rain. I rode till the temps got down to 5 degrees Celsius but I didn't care because  I could go where I wanted, when I wanted. In a strange sort of way I think Dad appreciated it too since I wasn't borrowing his car quite so often.

So what is my favorite memory on that bike? Riding up Yonge Street after work the night the Toronto Blue Jays won the ALC East Series. My girlfriend on the back, we bought a banner from a street vendor and rode up and down joining in the revelry. Anyone who has been downtown when the Blue Jays win a championship know what kind of party that can be. What made it sweeter was that I was there on MY bike. No rules, no curfews.

In 1986 I graduated college and started working. The job included a company car and the frequency that I rode decreased as the novelty of having a car was too much to resist but it wasn't long till I found I really missed riding and started using the bike again when I wasn't working. I had started my long journey upon the realization that riding was freedom. 

Since that time I have owned 3 cars and a minivan. In 2000 it had been 5 years since I had owned a bike and decided that it was time. I wanted to feel that freedom again and in May of that year I purchased a 2000 V-Star 1100 Classic in black with gray trim.

That first year I proceeded to clock about 15,000kms riding all over Ontario. I rediscovered that peace of mind that is achieved while watching the road unfold in front of you with nothing around you but the vastness of being out in the open.

Ride Safe and Often...


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