Make sure to say “TO THE MAAAaaax” in a very low voice
While visiting Scott’s Bikes & Boards last week I was reminded of 1975 and summer days in Portland. My cousin Casey and I were skateboard enthusiasts and spent much of our summer careening down Mt. Tabor on our boards. Many times we did it the scary way by laying on our backs like present day street luge riders. I remember thinking to myself at the time that I was only 2 inches from the pavement, and it would hurt if I lost it, but I just concentrated harder on staying on. We also had races down the volcanic cinder cone that is Tabor in a catamaran style. We did this by sitting on our boards and then placing our feet on our partner’s. We raced as teams to see who could make it to the bottom first. The closed off reservoir road that we used ended at a road that cars traveled on. We would all stick out our thumbs and catch rides in the backs of passing pickup trucks that were going up. We didn’t wear helmets, and I ripped more than one pair of blue Levi’s cords in pursuit of my thrills.
I was also a bicycle fanatic and loved taking my bike everywhere. I had a series of banana seat clad Schwinns and Huffys when I was a kid, and I’ve kept bicycles in my life to this day, but my love for two wheels branched off when I decided I wanted to ride motorcycles. When I was 16 the only thing I could convince my dad into letting me have was a Honda trail 70 with folding handlebars. I took it into the woods and did some serious exploring with it. My neighbor Jeff also had one and many times we would ride together. I remember having my cousin Casey on the back one day when a coyote jumped out from the brush and started running beside us. I didn’t think we looked like a road runner, but I suppose coyotes only chase road runners in cartoons.
When I left home all bets were off and I started buying and riding anything I wanted. I owned dirt bikes, and street bikes, I wanted to experience it all. One winter I decided to purchase a Honda 350 from a friend in Phoenix Arizona. I flew out and spent a few days in Phoenix, then rode the Honda 700 miles back to Sacramento California. I was freezing my butt off going over the Grape Vine on Interstate 5 just north of the Las Angeles sprawl. In the years to come I didn’t let bad weather slow my motorcycling down, and I remember commuting on Interstate 880 in the bay area of California in the middle of winter riding my 85 Kawasaki ZL 600 Eliminator. I would wear a bright yellow rain suit and put a gallon of Rain-X water repellent on the inside of the windshield of my helmet. I remember cutting through cars one day when traffic was stalled (legal in California) and having a guy in a pickup truck roll down his window and spit on me as I went buy; good thing it was raining. I rode the ZL 600 on that same road coming home at 110 miles per hour one day, the cars that I passed seemed to be sitting still, but the bike was running smooth with only a slight long wobble caused by the windshield. I suppose I could have gone even faster but I didn’t want to push it.
About 10 years ago I owned my last motorized two wheeled vehicle, it was a Yamaha 250 scooter like Tom Hanks rode in the movie Larry Crowne. My wife wouldn’t let me get anything larger, but if it made her happy I was happy too. I rode that scooter every day to work rain or shine, except when it was icy, I finally gave it up but it was a lot of fun. Now that I’m at that age where I need to exercise or rot, so I’ve been concentrating on my first love, my bicycle.
Looking for a bottle of chain oil for my Fuji Hybrid was the reason for going into Scott’s Bikes & Boards the other day. I had a great conversation with the tattoo clad skater that was managing the store at the time. They had some beautiful long boards and I found myself longing to get on and cruise down Mt. Tabor. We had a nice conversation about each other’s knee surgeries and I decided that careening down Mt. Tabor at this point in my life wasn’t a good idea. The chain oil he sold me rocked! Well as much as chain oil can rock, but it does repel water and grime like a champ. I purchased a yellow rain jacket over at Bi-Mart to round out my foul weather riding attire. I’m not going to let a little rain stop me from getting the anti-rotting exercise that I need.
I would like to get a couple more bikes at some point. I need a mountain bike to ride with my older son on the dirt trails, and a tandem to use with my younger son, and my wife. I think my legs falling off would be the only thing that would ever stop me from riding bicycles. My motorcycle days may well be over but I’ve been fascinated by 3 wheeled Piaggio scooters as of late, but I don’t think one is in the cards anytime soon. Having some maturity is one of the good things about having your first kid at 40, and not being bug squash is important these days; my boys deserve to grow up with a dad.
Miraculously, my boys didn’t inherit my thrill seeking genes, it’s one less thing I have to worry about as they grow up. Instead I have to worry about the little pack of girls that seems to be following my 12 year old around. My wife has been giving him the low down on wild adolescent girls, and I’ve been doing my part in filling him on what his life would look like being a dad at 14. Hopefully he’s been inoculated against stupidity. But the thing about stupidity is that resistance requires frequent booster shots.
Lucky for me, I survived my bouts of 110 Mph stupidity.
About the Author: Dan LaFollette
I'm a father first, and married to a wonderfully supportive spouse that works her butt off for our family every day. I'm also a writer, techno nerd, potter, and humorist. I always have more interests than I have time to explore. br> View My ProfileI'm an observer of the human condition, and a lifelong student. The day I stop learning, will be the day I fall over dead.