Ever since I was a kid I've loved motorcycles. There's this fascination I see in young kids staring at a bike, mesmerized. Maybe they realize it's not the norm and they can see that there's something taboo about it. Maybe they see danger or speed and are drawn to it in some kind of primal way. I can't tell you what I saw in a bike when I was young, but whatever it was, I still have it and need to feed it like a gas guzzling, fire breathing monkey on my back. I was hooked so many years ago and the feeling doesn't fade.
Parked in my garage is the big blue monster. A high octane, high performance, bad-ass, balls out competition off-road race bike. Why I thought to modify it for the street, and not just any streets, but the streets of New York City, I couldn't even begin to tell you. A momentary lapse of reason, madness, maybe that mangy mutt on the Berkowitz mail route told me to do it. Either way it makes no sense to do. The extreme danger and craziness of riding a bike like this through the streets of the city will either turn you into a hardend biker or scare you into never want to swing a leg over a sick machine like this again. The thump of the single cylinder four stroke, when given a good handful of throttle, is enough to set off car alarms on every block and make the average pedestrian feel like he's just been beat in the chest with a jackhammer. They call it a Supermotard bike in Europe, though the style has yet to really catch on here in the states.
An easy trip across town to the local Tuesday night biker hangout, right? Traveling the eight or so round trip miles should be easy enough, you would think, but this isn't a trip to the 7-11 in Boise. No, this is urban warfare on two wheels. These cabbies are out for blood. Two ton, bright yellow bull sharks swarm this sea of asphalt and as soon as you hit the pavement they can smell the oil on the road. As much as they're out to get you there are dozens of giant SUV's that could give two craps that you're even there. These giant buzz saw 25" chromed out Dubs can chew up and spit out the average rider with the slightest effort. Bouncing off of curbs and up on sidewalks are part of the ride, it's all fair game in this survival of the craziest. Racing from light to light, zero to 60 and back to zero in a matter of a city block or two. Just trying to keep the front wheel down is tough enough, let alone trying to grab enough brake to stop in time, but not so much that you end up butter side down. It feels wrong, I'm going to get stopped in a matter of minutes. Wait, how will they catch me? Do I have the balls to give it all it's got at the sight of flashing lights? Do I want to find out? This is the feeling I got as a kid riding a 1971 Penton around the streets at night. Outlaw bikers they call us. And they might be right.
But all I want now is to make it home in one piece. The last block is always smooth sailing. I pull into the garage, turn the gas off, take off my helmet and gloves. I'm a fighter pilot, a race car driver with stainless steel nerves and titanium balls. I made it through another ride through the jungle. I'm now home safe! This is when my knees start slightly shaking, my heart pounds the backside of my rib cage trying to break free. I wonder to myself why I would have just done such a thing as that...and when I can do it again.