get your motor running

My search came to an end last week and materialized in all its glory yesterday.

The month of September dragged on forever. I completed and passed the M1 exit course on the long weekend, qualifying me for the M2. Under the provincial rules, I wasn’t eligible to pick up the upgraded licence until September 27, sixty days after securing the M1. In the meantime, I thought to investigate the purchase of my first motorcycle.

The AutoTrader and Kijiji apps have been on my smart phone for some time, providing a welcome tangent on a regular basis while waiting in line, drinking numerous coffees in the morning, or perusing in the evening when my eyes were too tired to read a book. The saved searches narrowed the options to used vehicles, below $5,000, within 100 km of home, Honda, Yamaha and Kawasaki. I began to “park” several in the “garage”, revisiting constantly to assure the bikes were still on the market, and what else had become available.

The lesson from the training grounded my expectations for size and sent me on internet searches for beginner motorcycles. There were no shortage of opinions and humorous You Tube reviews (among my favourites included the reviewer who began each ride with a biblical passage) and advice on how to purchase.

Time and research lead me to decide to buy from a dealer instead of from a private seller. The place of choice would take care of all the licensing needs and there would be a semblance of assurance in the relevant condition of any bought machine. Perhaps most importantly, however, the two targeted dealerships offered delivery anywhere in Canada. I could not imagine how I would ride the newly acquired moto the 200 km. to our cottage, major portions which would have been on a 400 series highway or would have been a 3 1/2 hour trip along the back roads with constant stops and starts. I figured the price premium of a dealership and the extra cost for the transport will be money well spent.

By the first weekend of October I still had not visited a showroom nor had I picked up the M2 certification. The delay was mostly a function of an extra busy September, but also partly a hesitation to take that next step, still feeling those pangs of self-doubt.

Finally, on Monday, October 5, Olga accompanied me to AM sales in Concord. I had spotted a couple bikes within my price range, one of which was 2004 Honda Shadow Aero 750. The reviews were positive and most importantly, it was considered an excellent beginner’s bike and apparently, good on insurance.

The Honda Shadow 750

Greg greeted us through our Covid masks and I presented myself as a first time rider, apprehensive because of my age, yet wanting to enjoy the country side surrounding our cottage. He was empathetic, relating the story of his own father, all the while being confidently reassuring. Greg did not try to up sell, instead identifying a couple bikes to suit my situation including that Honda Shadow.

I sat on it, rocked it back and forth, sat on another, then another smaller, another bigger, back to the Shadow, stepping back to assess the size and weight, marvelling at the look, constantly asking myself if I I can handle this machine and if I should buy it. Heck, I had not even taken anything for a test drive or finalized insurance or picked up the M2.

We arrive at 10:30 and by noon I had put down a deposit. The wheels were in motion.

I immediately got on the phone with my insurance company to get the paperwork necessary to secure ownership. Then, I popped by the local Drive Test centre for that illusive M2 before a confirmation survey of You Tube reviews. Arrangements for payment through e-transfer the next morning and the deal was done in less than 24 hours. There was no turning back.

My own wishful thinking imagined receiving the bike before the long weekend. Realistically it would be the following week. By Friday I had given up hope on an early arrival when Greg called me that morning – everything was ready to go. An afternoon call from the transport service asking if they could deliver on Monday, Thanksgiving. Of course, I agreed, enthusiastically.

I had trouble sleeping that night, not so much for the excitement but in anticipation of the pitfalls. How was I going to get to the municipal road let alone drive on the winding and hilly thoroughfare? The single lane, gravel road to the cottage has a steep incline with blind bends, left and right, at the top and bottom. Our driveway is narrow and the turnaround space seemingly confined for a bike so big and a driver so inexperienced. What am I going to do?

As promised, Jason arrived at 9:00 am, Thanksgiving morning. He admired the view of the lake from our vantage point then proceeded to unload the bike, extolling it’s virtues over the gentle rumble of the exhaust, providing confirmation of all the reviews I had read and seen.

The goal had been achieved. I am the proud owner of a motorcycle.

Me and my machine

Numerous stalls trying to become accustomed to the clutch and some very shaky rolls up and down the driveway on that first day both confirmed my apprehension and added to the excitement of the possibilities.

I will need plenty of practice before I head out on the highway to look for adventure and whatever comes my way.

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