Born to be wild

T'was a piss-poor summer for much outdoor activity.

Certainly, the rain beats the smoke and I dare not tempt the fire-demons to return.

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But from hay making to festival going, inclement weather had everyone on the run.

Now it seems that fall has arrived early, begging the question what did our few months without ice and snow accomplish?

For myself, despite the lack of sun, the warm days of 2019 were spent learning how to motorcycle and coming to love it deeply.

Until this May, I had never set my derriere on the vinyl seat of any two wheeled vehicle that wasn't human powered.

I'd seen my brother and his friends get up to no good on their dirt bikes many moons ago, developing a healthy fear of what can go wrong when your balance is the only thing between you and the debris made lethal by inertia and gravity.

Thus, it was at my father's behest that we three all enrolled in and then completed the PG Learn to Ride course.

The instructors were knowledgeable and helpful, their cautionary tales as well as sincere love for motosport, touring, or simply cruising keeping the class engaged.

Their best demonstration was done at the outset, using a partner to push the rider from behind, gravity helping a little or a lot depending on the carpark: it only took about 10 km/h for the bike to stay upright, reinforcing the lesson that human error accounts for the vast majority of falls or crashes.

I settled into the pattern of shifting up and down, counter-steering, and getting up to speed almost immediately.

A grin was glued on my face as our crew did circles and figure-8's, tight turns and quick stops.

Of course we all have to fall once and I did so under the best of conditions: the bike slid out from under me during a quick stop drill on some loose gravel; casting it aside, I planted both hands and rolled up on two feet, all without scratching my helmet.

As Scott Adams' Dilbert tells us, the garbage man knows all things.

Visiting the transfer station after completing our course, the handle-bar mustachioed former biker asked me if I was interested in a single owner, never dropped 1999 Honda Shadow 750 American Classic Edition with less than 13,000 km on the odometer. With a price that was too good to refuse, I was now in possession of a motorcycle widely known for its reliability, handling, and just plain fun factor.

I've added 3,000 km to that burgundy steel horse in spite of the weather.

While still living on the family farm outside Prince George, the commute to town went from a long bore to a new odyssey daily, as every curve and straight in the road became an invitation to test one's skills.

There are of course many risks associated with motorcycling, from the fact that you're a hard vehicle to spot to the reality that if you get into any kind of collision, you'll lose.

Outside of keeping your head on a constant swivel and driving defensively - I have used my horn many times to remind fellow travellers I exist - the dangers of riding must be taken in stride.

And once you've experienced the freedom of cruising on the open road, the stakes become tolerable.

Everyone I meet in the motorcycle community assures me that the first bike doesn't last long - soon you'll be wanting to upgrade for power, comfort, ease of use, storage, etc.

And while I'll admit to perusing many catalogues as well as websites, all while finding my ride's lack of protective fairings against even a sprinkle of rain very frustrating, both maturity and budgeting have caught up with me.

Truth be told, the little 750 Shadow is all I really need for right now.

Walking up to the motorcycle, two-toned and chromed, makes one swell with pride.

I wear "all the gear all the time," donning it while the carb warms.

Then man and machine pull away from the curb, off to another adventure.

Neither speakers nor headphones accompany me on these trips towards the horizon: the rush of wind and roar of exhaust are all the music I need.

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