Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ain't Misbehavin'

Yesterday, while teaching my grandson the finer points of relaxation, I thought of my young teen years. My parents were very practical and never wanted me to have anything to do with motorcycles. I had friends who had motorcycles, and I took every opportunity to ride them just as fast as I could. I never knew if the folks ever found out or not. I thought of those first fearfully wonderful seconds before the centrifugal clutch on that old Cushman scooter took hold and gradually flung me into uncontrolled ecstasy at a top speed of 35 miles per hour. I was hooked. The scooter had a manually cocked kick starter in the center slot directly under the seat. The motor was also directly under the seat. After cocking the kick starter, you pushed it hard with your foot to the floorboard and if everything in the universe was properly aligned, it started. A single cylinder engine started its slow, "toook, toook, toook, toook... slowly picking up speed with each stroke. The accelerator was on the right hand grip and when turned, it gave the engine enough rpms to engage the centrifugal clutch. The old red scooters would vibrate forward and gradually pick up speed. I thought they were wonderful. I wish I had one today. Not only would it probably be worth a mint, it would solve some of my problems with high gas prices and my continuing need for transportation.
Some of the older guys had Cushman Eagles. These scooters had a suicide shifter on the left hand side and were the ultimate in motorized two wheeled transportation.

But I had to be satisfied with riding whatever I could borrow for a few minutes, or ride as a passenger. Other scooters around at the time were Mopeds, Allstates, Vespas, etc. and a variety of real motorcycles. I remember the first two stroke motorbike I ever saw was a small cc Yamaguchi that smoked like a mosquito sprayer, and sounded like an angry bumble bee. Most guys went for American built bikes until Honda jumped into the Market. I came out of the closet as an adult and started riding my own bikes. My first purchase was a Kawasaki 450 cc and I continued upward in power from there finally topping out with a Honda 750 cc. My wife rode with me one time for a very short distance before demanding I take her home. She said I didn't have sense enough to ride a motorcycle. I sold the Honda and didn't return to riding until after I retired. I had gotten a lot smarter over the years, and she actually got to the point where she enjoyed riding with me. I am currently without two wheeled motorized transportation, and I'm missing it. I don't miss all the horrible death stories everyone who doesn't ride a motorcycle seems to know. If you ever purchase one I'm sure you'll hear most of the ones I've heard. That's exactly why I've never tried to learn how to fly a plane; I don't think I could take the stories.

And remember, no matter where you go, there you are. - Earl Mac Rauch


Radial hooves
Pound the trail.
Throaty, thundering
V-twin wails.
Jet black coat,
Glistening chrome,
Studded leather,
Charging on.
Poly forehead,
Cyclops eye.
It’s an Iron Horse.
Watch him fly.

Dennis Price