Writer's Ramblings

First Love – A Man and His Machine

Written by  January 31, 2004

The time was early spring, 1990. My bike was a 1974 Honda 550 that I rode around town and took on occasional short trips. For a while I had been thinking that it was about time for something bigger. My pal, Bob, had been working on me to consider a Harley, but I was skeptical. Weren’t Harleys for rough, tattooed misfits who knew how to fix a bike when it broke down? However, I read in a newspaper article that Harley had gotten the reliability issue under control and that the new Harley riders included bankers, doctors, ministers, and even accountants, so I gave this notion some consideration.

One weekend in Dodge City, Kansas where I lived, the Village Square Mall was hosting a recreational vehicle show, and Burt’s Cycle Center had a number of Harleys and Hondas on display. Burt’s cute daughter, LeAnn, had just finished polishing up a brand new Heritage Softail, vivid black and black pearl. She told me it was just the bike I needed, and I believed her. After all, this was the bike Elvis was riding when he wasn’t pretending to be dead. It was beautiful, wonderful and magical. Was I falling in love? I thought so until I looked at the price tag. Burt was asking over $10,000 for a motorcycle, a big boy’s toy! Wow! I was going to have to think about this some more.

The next weekend, I decided that it wouldn’t hurt to take a test ride. Back in 1990 you could do that. First I took a Honda Shadow out for a spin, just for comparison purposes. Then I headed out on the Heritage. I didn’t want to go back. This was the bike I was born to ride! But the price wasn’t coming down any and I was pretty conservative. I would have to think about this a little while longer. That next week, I didn’t sleep well. This was a big decision and it was getting to me.

The next Sunday afternoon, Bob (remember my pal Bob?) stopped by with some disturbing news. He had been window shopping at Burt’s, and noticed that MY Heritage had been removed from the showroom, apparently sold. I was sick! My feeling of loss bordered on bereavement. It was a disaster and I was a mess! I had waited too long!

Following two sleepless nights the next Tuesday after work, I went down to talk with Burt. Someone named Sheldon Juneau had come all the way from Colorado Springs, Colorado to get that Heritage. Burt informed me that he could make some calls and see if he could work a trade with another dealership to get another Heritage for me. It could be done, but it was going to cost me a bit more. By this time, money had ceased to be a consideration. I told him I would appreciate it if he would get on the phone right then and see what he could do. It turned out that there was an identical bike in Topeka, Kansas and the dealer was willing to trade. Once again, there was joy and goodness in the world. At the age of 36, my life had finally begun. The deal was done, and in a few days I was riding the bike that I have now loved for over 115,000 miles, with many more to come.

Story by Stripe