Around the age of eighteen I had a habit of drinking too much on
pretty much any occasion available.
On one of those many occasions a friend of mine took the opportunity to sign me up for a first motorcycle instruction.
I liked him enough to appreciate his initiative the next day still and he took me on my word -- that I had little recollection of but he had witnesses -- and a week or so later I made my first legal trip on a two-wheeled vehicle with more than 50cc in the fire pit.
A similar thing happened to me later in life when someone lured me into horse back riding after I had too much too drink, however the effect was less durable since I didn't go well with our four-legged friends.
How different was it with my two-wheeled friends! After our first instruction I was determined to get my drivers' license. My friend went along for the ride but his enthusiasm was not quite like mine. I am generally poor at taking practical exams but it was gonna take me a few years more to figure that out. So to my complete surprise I failed the exam (I would probably fail again today but at least see it coming): the examiner did not appreciate my rear-wheel drifting on wet tarmac. I misunderstood his comment entirely and took it that my driving style was not aggressive enough and figured that for the re-exam it was best to give the throttle a good twist just to be on the safe side. I certainly was not going to fail again! On the day of the re-exam it was raining like crazy and would I have been in my right mind I would not have driven half as fast as I did: I passed the exam and the examiner (a different one) was thrilled by my driving. I wonder who was the real nut-case here: he or I? But I came out of that circus in one piece and with a license on top of that: now I needed something to use it on.
I was a student at that time (around 1992), I had no money for anything -- let alone a motorcycle -- and I had no real use for a two-wheeled gas-guzzler: thus I bought a motor-cycle. I had seen a couple of affordable ones (it seems affordable now but I recall having to borrow half the money from my parents) and I ended up doubting between a GPz 1100 and GPz 550. How I ended up with the GPz's? Not a clue. I knew little of motorcycles and my love for them did not have time to ripen into a 'taste de connaisseurs' but these red devils seemed affordable and I heard they were reliable (which was good since my experience with taken my Kreidler apart didn't support any high-tech, intense-maintenance piece of equipment). I ended up buying the GPz 550 Unitrack '83. For years I have wondered why in heaven's name I hadn't bought the 1100 or at least a 750 but I recall my father coming up with all kinds of financial arguments why the 550 was better. I know now he had my safety in mind and since I am here to write this story, perhaps he was right.
The Kawa was a good choice. It was an extremely reliable bike, great to ride and not too fast. The little maintenance that I had to undertake was mostly self-inflicted (see story by Simon Janssen on this site). On the side of the seat there was a print saying: "The Fast Kawa", which must have been put there by some illiterate blind man, leaving me in the illusion for months that my bike was really fast. Getting smoked by my friends' Opel Corsa helped reality catching up with me again; it left me a bit disillusioned but nevertheless still a very happy person when cruising on MY Kawa!
I tend to ignite enthusiasm with other people (i.e. I force them to do what I do) so after I got my bike, my girlfriend (I ended up marrying her) Anke got her license and a little later my dad followed. Anke took the bike out every time she got the change and since I wanted to share the experience with her we decided to rent a couple of bikes over the weekend to go out together. To make it really an experience we each rented a bike that was a little faster than the Kawa (Suzuki RF600 and GSX-R 750) and it was that day that I found out that the combination of tarmac, helmet and two-wheeled-vehicles have the strangest effect on Anke's state of mind. I was at no time able to keep up with her and I did not take particular pleasure in seeing my beloved girlfriend shooting past me like an unleashed projectile; it scared the living daylights out of me and I decided (in combination with a number of other reasons, among which the financial one) that I needed to get rid of the bike and take up a hobby that would preserve my girlfriend for the next century. My move was not very much appreciated by Anke and -- as I found out later -- less so by my dad.
Since I didn't spend much time in my parental house at that time anymore (I was studying, or at least spending time elsewhere whatever the nature of the activities, if any) I was unaware of the relation growing between my fine, old Kawa and my fine, not-so-old dad. He made little mention of the fact that he had taken a habit of riding the bike a couple of times a week, not long or far, but just small stretches; taking it easy and enjoying himself. In fact, he himself (personal communication) did not fully realize the new love he had found in the Kawa. He didn't mind me selling it and in fact, he actually sold it for me and send my Kawa off without much regret. However, after half a year or so, my dad started checking out second-hand motorcycles; this didn't mean much since he has been checking out classic-cars and villa's for ages and nothing ever came from that. With the bike it was different. He ended up buying a Kawasaki Ltd 750 (the argument of the 550 being a more economical choice went out the window) rather unexpected and I find myself in the same comfortable situation my dad has been a couple of years ago: someone else gets to pay the bills, do the maintenance and I get to sneak out from the back-door on the odd occasion to ride a 4-inline Kawa. Not long or far, just short stretches, but with a smile strapped to my face.
Some years ago I bought myself a Kawa