Old Dogs Can Learn New Tricks!

In 1993, my son finally talked me into letting him have a motorcycle.  He was 19 and still living at home, and I knew he would get one with, or without my permission.  We found a used Honda VF1000R in excellent shape.  I tried riding it a bit, but it was pretty big for my short legs.  I'm 5'-10", if I stretch.  I kept rubbing my shins on the pegs.

Later that year, I had to go TDY to New Jersey with the company and spent a year commuting back to Colorado once or twice a month.  While I wasn't there to monitor what was going on, my son bought another M/C and hid it at a friends house.  This one was a 1990 Suzuki Katana.  He got it extremely cheap and when I finally found out about it, he wanted me to buy it from him so we could go riding together. 

Well, that was an experience to remember.  Here's this 20 year old kid, who has no fear and a year of riding experience, trying to get his 50 year old dad to keep up with him. 

First time out, we went into the Colorado mountains, about 100 miles out and home again in about a 5 or 6 hour ride.  Our wives followed in the Blazer.  I hadn't learned about counter-steering yet and I was petrified on every curve.  I just leaned into the curves with my weight.  By the time I got home, I was exhausted, especially fighting that weekend traffic coming into the city.

About a week later, someone gave me the Gary Busey article about counter-steering, and I was totally amazed at my ability to control the bike so well.  It was a no brainer after that.

Since then, we have taken multiple long trips into the western US and have enjoyed it immensely.  We have gone as far as 2600 miles up to Mt. Rainier and back on a 5 day trip.  We've also gone on shorter trips with our wives in tow.

>In 1997, a friend of mine sold out and moved himself and his wife to Hawaii.  He sold most everything he owned including his beloved '87 LXE.  My wife saw it in the garage and saw that nice cushy passenger seat and asked if I would be interested in buying it.  I almost fell through the floor, because she had been giving me grief about the little bike and all the dangers of riding, etc.  She said, "if you're going to make me ride along, I may as well be comfortable."  Well, it didn't take long for me to work a deal and I got this beautiful maroon and silver piece of art for $3600.  What a deal!!  

Took a bit to learn about how heavy that bugger was.  I finally got the hang of it and that fall, my son and I did our annual trip, with me on the 'Cade.  It was extremely comfortable and easy on this old body, and I got a lot of attention from other people when we stopped at restaurants, etc.  In fact a tour bus of Europeans were at one of our stops and a bunch of older guys walked over to look the Cade over in detail.  They could only speak French and I can only speak English, but we both understood the admiration for the machine.

However, I also found out that I couldn't keep up on my 'Cade on those twisty roads in the mountains, with my son on his crotch rocket.  So last year, I took the Katana again.  Still can't keep up, but I sure have a lot of fun trying.

Last summer (July 8th 1999), I was riding to work on the 'Cade and encountered a very large dog running in traffic.  Cars were hitting their brakes and I was "counter-steering" my way to the left on a four lane, headed for the nice grassy median.  Trouble was, the dog decided that he didn't like the cars coming at him and found an exit route right about where I was headed.

He ran right into the side of my front wheel and the fairing extension picked him up and rolled us both.  I went down on the right side and skidded for about 70 feet with my helmet on the paved part of the apron.

Broke my collar bone and cracked 2 or 3 ribs.  Also banged up the bike pretty badly, but the crash bars took the worst of it.  It took a while to get all the estimates and insurance settlement, but I finally ordered the parts in December and finished rebuilding and replacing parts by the first part of April.

After working on the Cade for those 4 weekends, I really can appreciate the fine engineering that went into that machine.  It is very complex and takes time to see how everything works and goes together.  Now I just wish I could find where all those extra screws belong!

Gerry Klein
Littleton, CO

Last updated:   Wednesday, February 06, 2013

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