Sean, that was one of the most heartfelt things I've ever read. Thanks for sharing this. Three weeks ago, one of my best friends passed away at age 39 from a massive heart attack. He left behind a young wife and three little boys ages 7, 6 & 6 (Twins) . I've been wrestling with this in my head since then. What is going to happen to those three little boys? That's been my question. As well as his wife who has seen far to much tragedy in her young life. Hopefully They'll all end up okay, and will focus on the good that my buddy did over the years, and remember him for what he enjoyed, not how he died, much as you remember your father. Once again, very nicely done, and thanks for sharing that with us. That took guts.
I remember the summer of 1963 like it was yesterday. My older brother had just finished taking a red cross life saving course and actually was hired to be a life guard at a local swimming pool. He needed a car to get to the pool each day and my mom was in no mood to give up her Chevy Nomad station wagon. My dad drove my brother and me around to a number of used car lots after work to look for a good life guard car. My Dad and brother looked at the dimly lit cars while I was more interested in the strings of light bulbs dangling over the Nash Metropolitans. The next thing I know we are at the Honda dealer in Baton Rouge, within spitting distance of the Mississippi river. Just about every Honda rolling around the south came through this dealer/distributor. Apparently the car is out, the motorbike is in. I said maybe we should look at the motorbikes over as Sears. Dad says we are buying a Honda. How did he know? A white 1963 Honda 50 Cub step through is sitting in the carport that afternoon and my Dad has $215 fewer bucks in his wallet. The life guard hated the Honda, I loved it, and now I have two BMWs and a RD400 in my carport and a lifetime of great riding memories. I asked my Dad 30 years later why he bought us a motorbike when most other parents were fighting tooth and nail with their kids to keep them off those death traps. His reply, "I always wanted to ride one of course". My father was a hugely generous man, and this time, while again providing for his family's needs, managed to wiggle in a small wish fulfillment for himself.
My Dad used to ride. He had an Indian inline4 when he was a young man in L.A. When I was a kid in the 50's my one of my uncles had a Mustang motorcycle that he gave me some rides on over my mother's strong objections. Eventually my uncle had an accident and my aunt made him get rid of the Mustang.
When I got old enough I began to agitiate for a bike. After many months of working on my parents, much like the kid trying to get an air rifle in "The Christmas Story", my Dad finally gave in and let me buy a Honda Cub, for which I will be forever greatful. He used to ride it once in a while, blasting down the street always as fast as it would go.
My Dad's last experience on a bike was in 1971 when I returned from Japan with a brand new Kawasaki W2SS 650. We were at the parking lot of South Torrance HS riding around in my brother's go-kart when my Dad asked to try the Ksaki. He sits on it, revs the engine way up and before I can say "boo" he dumps the clutch and wheelies the bike into the chain link fence.
I see why he quit riding in the 30's. I'll bet he was one of the original squids.
My father was and still is my motorcycle insperation. He got me my first bike at the age of twelve, without me even asking. He just got it for my birthday, a 1978 yamaha 100 enduro. OHHHH YEAAA! I learned more about wrecking on that thing, what a great life lesson.
He also let me ride his sportster to high school after I got my endorsement. That was about the coolest thing. I'm sure it helped in the girlfriend department! He quite riding after the helmet law passed, something about his right to do what he wants or something. I let him ride my bikes over the years, but he hasn't had one himself.
Now, at the age of 64, he wants to buy a bike and ride it to Costa Rica. He bought a little plot of land on the carribean coast for retirement and thinks it would be a great adventure to ride all the way there. Man I would like to go with him, I just don't see it happening.
After all these storys about these great dads, I have new motavation to try and work it out. He's only getting older and I would hate to miss a once in a lifetime chance and a hell of a wild bike ride. We've traveled to many countries together and travel well together so I know we could do it.
So Morons, what do you all think we should get to ride down there on? Think low budget and who cares how pretty it is. Something used would have to be the way to go. It needs to hold luggage, and be able to take some rough roads.Thanks
KLR 650 with the 20 liter Givi bags. Let's put it this way, you would not be the first to ride one down there. KLRs are actually quite comfortable for long distances with the flat style Corbin seat ($200). If you have more money a R1150GS is a good choice and they are selling at a discount because everyone is in love with the R1200GS. A low mileage R100GS could also work well. A F650 Dakar would be great, but pricey. I have owned a 1000 V-Strom, but really, it is just too much of a street bike. If the big luggage for that bike fits on the smaller 650 V-Strom, that would be a good way to go. What ever you get, fit it with a real metal bash plate and engine guards. Any bike with spoke wheels (think strong) and tubeless tires (think easy to repair) will move to the top of the list fast.
US insurance does not work in Mexico. Make sure you know what the requirements are for each country you will be in.
I think the KLR is about what I am looking at. A friend has a Dl650 suzuki and it is about the right size. Is the kawi a better pick in your mind, or the same? He said that he only gets about 100 miles on a tank of gas, could be sketchy without a bigger tank. How is the kawis tank size.
My dad is thinking long turm bike in Costa while he is there for many years, so he is thinking along the lines of the R1150 range.
I feel that good weather protection for the luggage is key for long term comfort. Nobody likes a wet pair of briefs to curl up in at night. But in the tropics I don't need a lot of stuff. So I think I'll focus on waterproof and ridability.
I've driven a cage through Mexico and into Belize, not that bad for insurance. Plus I never had to use it, luckly. I do think that I paid a couple extra fees that where not more than a personal tip, but thats O.K. nothing to expensive. I do worry a little about some of the countrys, but thats what makes life good.
The tank on the KLR is just under 6 gallons I believe. I had an "02" that I rode to Daytona a couple of years ago. On one stretch between Baton Rouge and Daytona I got over 180 miles before reserve. The air cooled Suzuki is better for serious off-roading where a rock through the radiator could put you on the side of a trail. The Kawasaki has a big gas range advantage. The 20 liter Givi bags are top closing and the lid over laps the sides by about half an inch. They are quite dry, even when over stuffed and only cost about $60 each. Strap on a dry bag duffle to the stock cast aluminum luggage rack, add a tank bag and you can do some serious distances. Very good KLRs can be had used for $2500. They are both good machines, it just seems that the Kawasaki comes set up for budget adventure touring. KLRs retail for around $5K but they can be had new in certain areas of the country for under $4200.
I read with real appreciation your article on your father. Obviously, you hit a chord with a lot of readers. So it served two purposes; it introduced us to your father (who sounds like a remarkable character) and it lead many others to comment on those who had a profound impact on their lives.
In their comments there is a consistent thread of how important family members are. It seems that it is not Presidents and Prime Ministers, baseball or hockey players who are the heroes; but the family members who took an interest in us and who guided us along our paths.
For those of us who are now parents your article reminds us of how we too can be heroes to our children.
Sean, your post generated some of the best response that I have yet seen in this website. Great stuff! I also feel that my dad is up there, somewhere, looking down at me and cheering me on whenever I'm riding and having a blast.
I wish I could chime in and say "sounds like my dad, too!" But that is certainly not the case. When it became time for my dad- a three-sport athlete who threw two no hitters in college and was heavily scouted by the pros- to make his choices about his future, he followed his own father's advice and took the "safe route" and became a dentist. A damn good one, too, judging by the life my family had growing up. He never owned a hot car (preferred big Caddilacs), and he just about had a nervous breakdown when I started riding motorcycles.
20 years later, he's retired, and I have still never given him a ride, and he's still never asked to go on one. He still won't even mention to his friends that I ride bikes. It is still an issue between us. My committment to riding is total. He continues to warn me I'll die on my bike. That's about where it stands.
Just recently, in a long ride (in the minivan) to a football game, my dad got quiet and admitted what he had never admitted before: he regretted not choosing to try professional baseball all those years ago. I picture a young man, under the hard gaze of his stern father, comitting to the safe path, and forgoing his true calling. So it was the same with he and I, except I took the less secure path, and while it has been a struggle, I look back at all the trips I took on my bikes, the people I met, the photos and articles, and it fills me with a quiet joy that no money could buy.
Dad and I get along fine despite the tenor of this message, and if you're in the same boat, I wish you the best in getting your pops to take that one ride with you that might open his eyes to the joy of motorcycling. I'm almost done fixing up a 1976 Goldwing, and I think it may be the bike that get's him to strap on a helmet, if only once.
Happy holidays to the MO crew and all the readers.
That was a very inspriational and introspective article about your dad, both personally and judging from the enormous and hearfelt responses. Keep up the great work. Let me know when the rally is (if ever!) and I'll bring the CBX....