I got a Motorcycle!?

Yup, I got a motorcycle. Why? Well, I can't afford a used car, most of my trips that require motorized transport involve myself, not loads of cargo, and I'd like to experience 2-wheeled motorized travel before society implodes(just kidding-sorta).

Why a BMW? Well, you can get parts for virtually every BMW motorcycle made since 1923, they are really easy to maintain, and there is a beautiful tractor-like karma about them- at least the air-cooled Twins prior to the mid-1980's.

I remember driving through the Smokies in 1983 in my '75 Saab 99EMS(my first car), hurtling along the interstate when I heard this subdued, tractor-like chugging coming up on my left, during a thunderstorm . 'What on earth could pass me in this rainstorm?', my(at the time)21 year old uppity inner voice questioned. Well, it was a BMW in full touring mode, smoothly passing me. I can still see it today. It impressed me deeply- not in a macho way, but in that there are different solutions to motorized transport.

Anyhow, I got my license in the summer of 1998 through a Motorcycle Safety Foundation course. I couldn't recommend it too highly; I'd mandate it for all aspiring motorcyclists if I were a legislator.

My first bike was a 1979 R65 that belonged to a former BMW parts manager for $2500. The bike had just had been checked out pretty thoroughly about a month before I purchased it, as the owner wasn't sure at the time whether he was going to sell it. His mechanic- an independent BMW technician with a shop 1 mile from my workplace- :-)- tipped me off when he decided to sell, and I jumped on it. It had been repainted in the original factory color the year before, so it pretty much looked like a new bike.

I put over 10,000 mi. on the bike from September '98 to May '99 , including a 1500 mile trip to northwest Arkansas, a 600 mile trip to northern Wisconsin, and a 500 mi. weekend trip to northeast Iowa, with all my caving and camping gear loaded- all great runs! I was helping out with a group of college kids that a friend of mine was taking into Coldwater Cave for chemistry experiments(he's a chemistry professor), and I was quite the hot topic on their ride back from the cave- the first time in my life that's happened, I'm sure!

Anyway, here's the pictures of my first bike- I took them for the insurance company.

The bike bit the dust over Memorial Day weekend of 1999. I was riding up to my folk's place in southwest Wisconsin, when a 17 year old driver tried to turn left across my path, without stopping or even looking, as he stated later.


I managed to get my speed down to about 40 mph, and was almost able to get around his front end- he caught my right cylinder with the right front quarter of his car.

Everything occurred in the space between two telephone poles- seemed like an eternity.

Why didn't I go to his rear, you might ask? Well, there was a tractor with manure spreader on the right side of the road- OUCH! So I went for the only daylight available. I went over the bars, rolled, slid, stood up, and calmly asked him to call the police, as he already had his cell phone out.

Thanks to good MSF instruction, good riding gear- full Cordura gear with body armor, and a full face helmet- and a bit of good luck, I was completely unscathed. I did have a bit of neck soreness(try running your head into the ground at 40 mph!), and a nick on my shin from something on his car that cut up my pants a bit, but that's all.

I was also fortunate that an off-duty EMT was following me when the accident occurred- good witness to have! She, and the deputy that took the call, were most impressed by my lack of damage.

Anyway, I brought the bike back to my mechanic, had the kid's adjustor out to check out damage to the bike and my gear, and called a friend of mine who was selling his '80 R100- perhaps the nicest R100 I've ever seen in a color other than Classic Black- his is a pearl white, with an S fairing and Luftmeister bags. It already had lead free seats installed, and was dual-plugged as well.

As he really needed the bike out of his garage, he cut me a really good deal; I took possession of the bike without actually paying a penny! I won't have to pay him until the insurance settlement is finished- now that is a friend!

After riding the bike for a week, I went off for a 1700 mile weekend to participate in the Minnesota 1000, a motorcycle endurance rally. You'll need to read the trip reports at their website to get a real feel for the event. I am working on my own account; a transcendent moment occurred for me just outside Niobrara, Nebraska- enjoy the panoramic view I beheld in awe.