Sweet taste of freedom dampened by dose of rain

It was as if the years hadn’t flown by and I was 14 years old again, zooming along on a little Honda motorbike.

The sweet taste of freedom never gets sour, and I was surprised that riding still felt like it did way back when the Ice Age was just starting to melt, and I somehow talked my Mom and Dad into letting me get an actual real motorcycle. Oh, and to also, basically, buy it for me too.

I betcha I put about a million miles (1.60934 million kilometres) on that blue Honda 50 Sport, with the upsweep muffler, and my subsequent spiffy white Honda 90 Sport that I rode all the way to Westlock and back at 50 m/hr max (which was painfully boring, to be honest.)

But still, many, many happy hours of said freedom and adventure and bugs in my teeth unfolded on those two-wheeled liberty machines.

And suddenly it is a few light years later, and I find myself rattling along on a different version of the same thing.

This time, as I have gone on (and on) about in past sessions here at Hay’s Daze, it’s a yellow 1978 Honda 90 Trail motorbike – the result of a long and winding road of mechanical restoration adventures that led me down the garden path and directly into a can of worms.

Three vintage motorbikes in various stages of decay took up residence in my friend Dave’s garage on account of the fact I don’t have a garage, and Dave is one of the best tinkerers around, and can barely resist an opportunity to be one. Even if it’s on three piles of metal, rubber and plastic disguised as a trio of retro motorcycles.

So after many weeks of occasional wrenching, including gas leaks, wiring issues involving signal lights that worked only when they wanted to (which wasn’t very often), and a kick starter that basically fell right off the motorbike, the epic day approached.

The epic day when “the boys” were all going to go for a communal rip. Three of us motorcycle maniacs, two of whom had bikes that were restos and therefore retro rookie roadrunners that hadn’t seen a long stretch of pavement in many years.

And those two bikes that had been revived into their somewhat original splendour had riders who hadn’t seen the road from a set of handlebars for many years, either.

Our supervising rider was the seasoned one, Dave, on his fairly modern Suzuki Boulevard, a large road bike that made my Honda look like something on the shelf at Toys ‘R’ Us.

The second gang member, whom I’ll call G.T., because it sounds cool, hopped on his shiny pristine Yamaha 250. And last, but certainly least, was yours truly with my putt-putt 90 Trail.

We roared (well, they roared, I putted) off down the country blacktop amongst the gorgeous canola-laden fields of yellow, and that old feeling was still there.

The freedom, the joyful abandon, the sheer bike bliss – like flying on two wheels… And then… and then, suddenly grinding to an unfortunate halt on two wheels.

Guess which bike quit, out of the blue, in the middle of the joy, by the side of a road, near a nice yellow field?

By the time my two fellow bikers turned around to come back to help, it was clear I was going nowhere fast.

So after much discussion, the boys headed back to town to get a truck, and me and my tired Honda settled in by the side of a lonely road for the long wait.

And that’s precisely when it started to pour rain.

Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker. He can be reached at harleyhay1@hotmail.com.

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