Motorcycling Stories - How I got started

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 13:03 -- darryl

I got my start in motorcycling around 1978. At the time I was out on my own and single, working at a good job and going to school at nights. Rick, an older friend, owned a Suzuki GS650 and I would occasionally get a ride. Then he bought a Yamaha 175 Enduro, and it seemed expedient to get a motorcycle learner's permit. Eventually I used the 175 to get my endorsement, and I was on my way.

It really took a while before the bug bit hard; I would occasionally borrow the 175, but it wasn't that important. In the meantime, Rick had bought himself a new BMW R65. While the Suzuki had been a bit of a beater, nobody got to ride the R65. Eventually I got more excited about bikes and decided to own a new one. What could be better than one like Rick's?

So, in 1981 I bought an R65 from West Valley Cycle Sales in Winnetka, California. Mine was not in the classy Champagne, but rather in Yucca Turquoise. The Germans really have a way with names.

By the time I bought the R65, I was pretty much hooked. I picked up the bike from the dealership on a Tuesday afternoon, and was back on Saturday for the 600 mile break in service. I had a great time on that bike, I rode it all over and commuted to work on it. Sure, it was BMW's entry level bike, but nobody told me I wasn't supposed to go touring and camping with it.

In 1985 I stepped up to a red R80, which I had outfitted with a cafe style "S" fairing. I picked that bike up on Saturday and was in on Tuesday morning for its break in service! In 1986 I shipped it to Europe for a 6 week vacation that covered the UK, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. When we left LA and moved to Seattle in 1991, I rode the R80 there. Eventually I put over 92,000 miles on it.

But in 1994, Laurie at West Valley made me an offer I couldn't pass up on her demonstrator R1100RS. I flew down to LA with a Washington state license plate in hand, and rode it back to the Pacific NorthWet. And then I made a huge mistake. I sold the R80 to a coworker.

A year later he called me up. He had never registered the bike, and had lost the title somewhere. Would I meet him at a notary to sign a note saying that I had sold it to him? Of course I would. While waiting for the notary, I got caught up on his life. He was getting a divorce. He was leaving the company. Moving out of state. He had torn the bike apart. He had ideas about how to create a real Custom out of it. The more he talked, the more I didn't want to hear. Never sell a bike.

I still have the RS. I've ridden it around the country, and in western Canada. In 2002 I bought an R1150RS, which is pretty much the same bike. Unfortunately, the 1150 was totalled in an accident in 2006, and now I'm riding an '07 R1200ST.

The R1100RS is now in Europe, where I go riding once a year. It has over 200,000 miles on it, and it still gives great service, even if nobody was interested in it for a trade in when I got the 1150.


My friend Rick also got me involved in another pursuit that has occupied a lot of my time. Around the time I was first getting really interested in bikes, a friend of Rick's gave him a motorcycle as a birthday present. It was a 1961 BMW R60/2. Pretty nice present! However, it was completely disassembled, and it wasn't exactly clear why the friend had taken it apart a decade earlier.

When Rick moved from LA to San Jose, he left the boxes of parts to me. Eventually, I did put the bike together and got it running. I have been under the spell of old bikes ever since. I've travelled more than 20,000 miles on this bike in particular and probably put close on 70,000 miles on old bikes.