I never got any training on how to ride on or off road. Most of us old timers never did. Nor did I get any instructions on how to deal with the women I came across in life. You can get hurt out there.
I worked several jobs before going to college in my mid twenties. It was the fall of 1984. By then I had a shiny red 1983 Kawasaki GPZ 1100 and a beautiful girlfriend. We all moved in together and started attending Saint Cloud State University. At first it was bliss. I was very happy. So much joy was in my life I wanted to spread it around. Why not get my wonderful girlfriend a motorcycle too? I wanted to find a 305 GPZ so we could have matching bikes. This was long before the Internet or even Cycle Trader, so the best I could find was a Suzuki GS 250.
She took the riders training course that St. Could offered. She rode the bike one time and that was it for her.
The fall of 1985 we moved out of the little apartment we shared. She needed more “room” and moved into a dorm near campus. I rented a house with some other guys. That confusing fall lead into one of the coldest and darkest winters of my life. She was using the slow and painful method of breaking up with me. The months of anguish passed slowly. The spring of 1986 was very long in coming. The warm weather and the GPZ did wonders for my disposition.
What was I to do with the little GS? The Suzuki was what I considered to be a turd bike. A starter bike you wouldn’t want your friends to see you riding. It only served to remind me of what I was missing in my life, so I ignored it.
But, as the summer came, I found I was riding the Suzuki to run errands. I never had a light, nimble street bike before. Not only was I having fun, but I think I was learning how to ride better. I would flog that 250 all around town, but I had to behave myself when astride the much more powerful 1100. It wasn’t just a fear of speeding tickets. I was shocked to learn that I wasn’t that good of a rider – I had just been riding for a long time. I had everything it took to be a good rider, I just needed to add some skill to the mix. I started sprinkling in some knowledge and skill to my motorcycle riding bowl and stirred it all up with the willing little 250. I was happy again for the first time in a long time. Then the cops showed up.
It turns out in all that time and moving and gloom, I had never put new tabs on the Suzuki. I got pulled over and was given a ticket. Tabs were cheep. I rode strait to the DMV and bought them. $14 if I remember correctly, but that left me holding a ticket for ten times that amount. I had the summer off and a part time job, so I decided to go to court to see what I could do.
My name was called and the charge of riding with expired tabs was read out loud. I stepped forward and the judge asked me if I pleaded guilty or not guilty. “Guilty with an explanation your Honor,” I croaked. He smiled. “Let’s hear it,” he said.
I told him that it was my ex-girlfriend’s motorcycle and that I was only riding it over to my house to sell it for her. That was mostly true, but several months out of date. I didn’t want to bore him with too many facts. I admitted that the tabs were expired and that I was riding it, but ultimately, both the brave little Suzuki and I had been betrayed by a woman gone bad. Well, that’s how I felt about it. I also told him I had bought the tab immediately after getting the ticket. I even held up my receipt. He nodded and asked, “If your ex-girlfriend is at fault, shouldn’t you be taking this up with her?” “I’d rather take my chances with you, Sir,” I responded. “I hear you,” the Judge sighed. “The fine is waived, have a good day.”
I continued to work on my riding skills from that day on. I fought several more traffic tickets and won those too. My skills dealing with women have also improved with time. I found it helps to start with a good one. (They get very angry when you try to improve them. So it’s best to take them as you find them.) I sold all the bikes mentioned in this story, but a lightweight bike will always have a place in my heart and in my garage. My life is turd free.