IT’S JUST A 300
I was about to get on my bike, when a solicitor walked up, clipboard in hand. He was young, aw-shucks young, and immediately told me, “Man, you got an awesome bike!” I was pretty sure this was part of the butter-up, so I thanked him, and let him run his sales pitch by me. He must have been 17 or 18, tops. I shook my head no, patiently, to every question, my face shield fogging up and getting hotter by the second. When he knew his cold call was a dud, he slouched his shoulders a bit, dropped his clipboard to his side, and set his sights right back on the bike.
“Can I hear you start it up?”
“Sure,” I said.
While I let the bike warm up, he proceeded to tell me he was a rider, and by the way he looked at my bike the whole time he talked, full of wonder and insecurities, I knew he loved motorcycles. But I could sense he was a little embarrassed by his own bike.
“It’s just a 300,” he said.
That got me fired up and I stopped him right there. “Everything I needed to learn, I learned on a 250,” I said. “Don’t worry about what other people have. Don’t give more attention to the type of bike you have more than your riding skills. Put your skills first. Don’t ever think you need to have what someone else has.”
We talked about maintenance, safe riding practices, and his aspirations. I finished by giving him one of my personal commandments: “Never get on your bike if you’re upset, or in a hurry. Oh, and check your air pressure before every ride.”
I could tell he was in an innocent hurry to rise up the ranks with cc’s, and experience. I tried to tell him it was ok to take his time. “I think you’re doing great.”
He paused, and he asked me, “Is it alright if I sit on it?” The bike was still running.
I NEVER let anyone on my bike, but this was different. This was bigger than flexing ‘my property.’ I’m older. Men should be doing this stuff everyday. I wanted to give him free game. I wanted him to be excited for what lies ahead on his journey.
“Man, that didn’t feel heavy,” he said as he backed away.
“No. It is heavy,” I said. “It’s 600lbs...You know why it didn’t feel heavy?”
“Because, you ride. You know your way around a bike. Because of that 300...I think you have a good head on your shoulders. Take your time, man.”
I pulled out my wallet, and handed him a $20 bill.
He kicked an invisible can and looked straight at the ground with a shy smile.
I rode off at sunset. The young man took off his cap and watched me as I rode off. By the time I was on 1626, a mist was rising from the pasture by grazing cattle at last light, and the clouds receded, disappearing into the watercolor blue and lavender sky.