My first ride

Sunlight shimmered on her lithe frame, lust grew as my heartbeat pounded in my neck.  With her warm
vibrant purr humming through my fingers I gently eased her into a slow rhythmic strain as she shivered to

 Then suddenly a lurching motion brought me the anticipated thrust of pleasure as the three
horsepower Briggs and Stratten engine roared, engaging the centrifugal clutch.  As the back wheel of the
home-built minibike passed the now airborne front forks the thought came to mind that perhaps a slightly more
gentle caress with my right hand might have produced a better relationship with this now cantankerous she
devil about to crush my fragile adrenaline pumped form.  The resulting damage was minor.   The lesson
burned in my mind as well as my muffler tattooed leg was to be one of caution that I would never forget until
the next time I forgot.  The laughter rang out from the crowd (my two buddies) as they picked the bike
off me ignoring the crumpled heap of human flesh expressing his displeasure at
being subjected to the agony of spring roundup branding.  Though the first attempt was fraught with
danger and mishap, 30 seconds later I was aboard, flying along the power line trail at speeds never before


It was the speed and feeling of exhilaration of that first ride that would keep me returning to two wheeled
happiness.  Piloting a craft that freed the spirit while soothing the mind with its irresistible lure of
twisting back roads became not a habit but a passion that has endured for more than forty years.  An
almost new, gleaming red, 1969 BSA Rocket 3 became my first motorcycle and my friends  and I rode a variety
pack of American, British, Japanese, German, Italian and Spanish two wheeled conveyances of variable
reliability and sometimes questionable road worthiness (bailing wire being a mainstay of some on-board tool
kits).  There have been Beezers, Beemers, Honda’s, Triumphs and and even a Yamaha over the
years.  Friends with a new bike urging me to take it for a twist and those that were untouchable. 
All have been in one way or another a wonderful unique experience with the departures of lesser motorcycles
celebrated when a new and different machine gave its soul over to be cared for and appr
eciated.  They all had their quirks with some being near perfect to ride and others having the distinct
mission to irritate the rider with strange handling or outright mutiny, refusing to run properly or even start
(gold medal for this goes to the British bikes  .... “not just a motorcycle but a piece of British
Engineering”).  The odd part is some of the Brits are the bikes I enjoy riding  most.  Sometime after
1990 during a  motorcycle drought I decided to look for another 1969 BSA Rocket 3.  Nostalgia overcame
rational thought prompting a search that would take years.  Having no luck in locating one that the owner
would part with, a compromise was in order .  A 1974 Trident would fill the 3 cylinder gap.

While in a gas station with a 30 yr old motorcycle, carefully peering into the tank to prevent an overflow
you can always count on the guy from nowhere walking over and commenting “I used to have one of
those”.  Well this day was different.  The fellow said “ I've got one of those ... except it's a
BSA”.  As this type of comment is usually followed by “and it's a ...... (not what you are looking
for)” I didn't get too excited.  But to my astonishment he told me about his father's bike that had gone
down with around 6000 miles on it and Dad never rode it again.  Parked beside the barn in the sun, snow and
rain it had sat for over 20 years.  He now had it, was going to restore it and yes it was a 1969 Rocket 3.  I
asked him if he was selling it and got a negative response.  Again with dashed hopes I let him know that if he
ever did sell it I would be interested.  We talked for a while and I realized that this poor fellow had no
idea what it would take to do a full restoration on a bike that had sat
out in the weather for so long.  When I asked if I could see it he kindly led me to his house where he had
it stored in the pool shed.  The smell of chlorine permeated the air inside the shed where the wheeless bike
sat partly on a piece of wood just to keep it from falling over.  The corrosion from the chlorine had begun to
work on the aluminium and the rust on the levers was a depressing sight.  I politely told him that storing it
with chlorine so strong in the air would cause untold damage not just to the aluminium but the electrics as
well.  Parting with a promise I would buy it when he was ready to sell I rode away convinced that this was
another Rocket 3 that would not find it's way into my hands.
The e-mail came the next year. He now realized it was not a project that he was comfortable with.  The Rocket
was to be mine.  Bringing the wheeless bike home in the truck I now knew that I had a big job ahead.  For
whatever reason there was a lot of oil in the cylinders and the motor would not move.  After draining too much
oil out of the sump, removing the plugs, .... presto, the crank turned.  No better way to store it.  Without
removing the head it got new wheels, tires, primary and final drive chains and lots of other basic maintenance
bits with the electrics sorted too.  It started and ran poorly with great clouds of smoke emitting from the
Ray-gun exhaust for about 10 minutes when having burned all the oil out of the cylinders and exhaust system
(yes the pipes had oil in them too) it smoothed out.  With a bit more work it was running smooth and I again
possessed a copy of my original bike.  I won't be doing the paint and the seat is original without tears or
cuts.  It is a vintage bike with a faded pa
tina that speaks of its 42 year history.  It's 3 cylinders bark with the Triple growl as it throttles through
the curve.  Too much maintenance, too much vibration, drags the pegs through the corners, leaks oil and gas,
is likely to prove generally unreliable but again I have it.  My first real motorcycle.

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