An Old Man’s Bike
by bj max
Gold Wing Motorcycles have on occasion been accused of being an old man’s bike. Am I an old man? Well, at my age I’m certainly not a young man but I don’t feel old and since I plan on living to be a hundred I like to think of myself as middle aged.
It’s true, you do see a more mature group riding Gold Wings as compared to sport bikes and cruisers but maturity doesn’t necessarily mean you’re old. It just means you’ve attained a sort of common sense perfection and you’re not as stupid as you were at say…twenty-five. You have learned to appreciate the finer things in life. Palatable food instead of fast food. Cabernet Sauvignon instead of a six pack. A soft cushy Gold Wing instead of chrome plated jackhammer. Function has taken priority over form and being seen has taken a back seat to being comfortable.
I get razzed all the time about my most recent choice of bikes. Not long ago a fellow employee said he had heard that only wimps and old men ride Gold Wings. Laughing and elbowing his buddy, he asked if that were true. “Well, I don’t think so.” I replied and offered to introduce him to a couple of Memphis Police Officers that ride Gold Wings thinking maybe they could satisfy his curiosity. He prudently declined the invitation.
Our son Clay, a young man of twenty-nine, rides a crotch rocket and although he’s never said so, I’m sure he considers our Gold Wing to be no more than a two wheeled Town Car. Something for his decrepit old parents to chug around on in between CAT scans and denture overhauls. However, after joining us on a little two hundred-mile dinner ride one Saturday afternoon we gained a new respect from our number three son, riding both him and his flash bike into the ground. At the end of the trip we had to pry him from his 150-MPH race replica. He was still complaining with his back a week later and hasn’t ridden with us since.
Some of my cruiser riding friends who consider the Gold Wing to be an old man’s bike, invited me on a ride with them and asked if I had any suggestions on where to go. When I laid out a run to Alabama where we would pick up the Natchez Trace parkway, then ride north into Mississippi and back home to Tennessee, about a three hundred mile loop, they almost passed out saying they only wanted to take a short day trip and didn’t plan on touring the south. Now I ask you, who’s the old man here and who’s riding the old man’s bike, huh? And if I am the old man riding the old man’s bike then why are these guys always in my mirror?
Someone once said that age is a state of mind. I consider that a true statement. For instance, if I rode with the thought that I was riding an old man’s bike, well the first thing you know I might start believing it. Then, the next thing you know I would start thinking of myself as an old man and that kind of thinkin’ can only lead to one thing. A rocking chair on a front porch somewhere. Pu-lease.
The Gold Wing may be considered an old man’s bike by some but it would take a good rider to push it to its limits. I certainly can’t do it and there are some that won’t even attempt it. And I can understand why. It’s an intimidating piece of machinery. I used to think my Harley was a huge motorcycle but even the mighty Tour Glide looks small when parked next to a GL1500. It takes a man to wheel a thousand-pound motorcycle around all day. Not an old man but not necessarily a young man either. But it does take a grown man.
When does young officially end and old officially begin anyhow and who or what determines that beginning? Congress maybe? Does the official count down start at fifty? Sixty? Probably seventy-five. That’s when the federal age discrimination law expires allowing the big corporations to give some of their best people the boot. To bad it doesn’t apply to the legislators who passed it.
I don’t mind telling you, if I could go back and be eighteen again I certainly would. But only if I could take my fifty-year-old brain with me. I did some dumb things in my youth and I wouldn’t want to make the same mistakes again. I sometimes wonder how I survived. Image was high on my list in those days. So much so that the choppers we used to build didn’t have front brakes…Just wasn’t cool. And the rear brake was of the mechanical drum type. Stomp the pedal at thirty MPH and you’d slide clean into next week. Samuel L. Clemens once said. “Youth is a wonderful thing, its to bad it’s wasted on kids”. Amen Brother Twain.
Time and space are indeed relevant as Einstein theorized because neither of them exists. Time only exists in clocks, calendars and the minds of men. Time is not a person, nor a place, nor a thing. You can’t touch it; you can’t smell it and you can’t see it so therefore, as far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t exist. Time is nothing more that a man made gauge to remind us of approximately how much life we have left and if we’re old men riding old men’s bikes.
As a result of this brilliant revelation, that I’m passing on to you free of charge, I will no longer acknowledge any more birthdays, my own or otherwise. I won’t send you any birthday cards and I would appreciate it if you would extend me the same courtesy. And please, when I turn fifty-eight, no parties. OK?