There are some things you just shouldn’t do. Even on a double-dog dare.
And I’m mortified to admit I’ve done some of them, even without the double-dog dare.
Like the time my buddy John and I were roaring down the highway on his legendary 305 Superhawk and we decided it would be totally awesome to go 100 miles an hour.
For those unfortunates who are sadly unfamiliar with the legendary 305 Superhawk, I’m referring to possibly the most iconic Honda motorcycle of the 1960s.
It was the bike featured in the famous bestselling mystical road-trip novel that was a must-read for any longhair with or without two wheels: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
John’s Superhawk was one of only a handful in town at the time, and here we were roaring along south of Gasoline Alley, frantically rattling and rolling, me on the back in the fierce Mach 1 wind, peering over John’s shoulder at the speedometer.
It was pinned at 100 miles an hour! Miles an hour, not kilometres.
John failed to mention that his tires weren’t quite awesome. In fact, John sort of neglected to tell me his tires were actually bare as a baby’s butt.
This is good example of something you shouldn’t really do. Especially when it turns out that you blow a tire at 100 miles per hour.
The only thing that saved us was that it was the back tire, not the lethal front one. Also that John was very good at piloting motorcycles. Also, I was pretty good at hanging on.
In fact, John and I had crashed only once before, but that’s another story.
I was thinking about all this the other day when I asked the Better Half if she’d ever been gravel surfing.
She looked at me like I’d asked her if she’d ever gone shopping on Mars or something, partly because we weren’t even talking about gravel, or even surfing at the time, and partly because (and I know this now) it was a very stupid question.
Nobody in their right mind goes gravel surfing. Which tells you a lot about yours truly and some of my friends back in the day.
It was a May long weekend many moons ago, and our rock band, called Thames Freighter (because our “bus” was a weird, old yellow van that happed to be a British-made model called a Thames Freighter) had just finished playing the Crawdaddy Rock Festival at the Red Deer Arena and we had gathered at the usual long weekend party spot — Pinecroft Cabins at Sylvan Lake.
One of the guys had an even weirder car — a German pile of junk called — believe it or not — a Borgward.
With such a fantastic name, it was our favourite party car. Also, it had a nice sturdy chrome bumper on the back, which was a prerequisite for decent gravel surfing.
So the Borgward fills up with friends and girlfriends, and a stranger or two, and our bass player Stan and I walk around to the back.
Side by side, we kneel down facing the trunk, grab a good hold on the chrome bumper, plant our running shoes in the gravel and shout “Go, go, go!”
And when the Borgward roars off with two morons sliding along behind on the gravel road, hanging onto the back of the car for dear life, it’s one of those moments.
One of those moments, just before disaster, when you know for a stone-cold fact there are some things you just shouldn’t do.
And as always, the trick with something like gravel surfing is figuring that out just before you do it.
Next week: Road rash.
Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker.