I never actually thought I’d own a Harley Davidson motorcycle. It’s the very reason why I named my dog Harley: So, I could always say I had one. But, I have owned one for four years. And now, it looks like I might actually sell my tragically underused Harley Davidson Road King Classic. For the better part of the last year, it’s been parked in the garage, begging for me to start it up and take it for a ride. And, while I did start it to keep the battery charged – the rides just never happened.
I tried to start it two or three weeks ago and was greeted by a loud pop followed by a plume of smoke rising from the engine. “Oh, f*** me,” was my first thought. Then, in usual stages of “Harley Grief,” I rapidly shot through fear, disappointment and ultimately, anger that I had killed my bike without ever taking the big, long ride that I had always promised myself.
Tomorrow, the bike is being rolled onto the back of a truck and taken to the dealership to get the engine (and all other tubes) flushed (old gas the reason for that pop and plume of smoke). It’ll get tuned and, later next week, will, for all intents and purposes, have a brand new bike…to sell. (I have to keep reminding myself that I’m selling it.)
The Harley purchase was a lifelong dream. And, even as it sits – unused - in my garage, just seeing it gives me a sense of pride and feelings of rebellion that belie my life as the “responsible dad.” Every person who told me to sell it after K-Man was born simply strengthened my resolve to keep it. But, the time has come. It’s like having a German Shepherd in a small apartment. The dog needs a yard. The dog needs space. Well, this bike deserves the open road. It deserves to be ridden on long trips, logging big miles. It deserves more than I can provide.
I don’t know if selling this bike means never straddling a Harley, or much less a motorcycle, again. If I’m honest about it – I probably bought “more bike” than I needed. Truth is if I had a smaller bike, I’d probably ride it more. Smaller bikes are easier to just jump on and ride to the office, for example. They make for great little commuter vehicles to the grocery store. And so on. But, now that my days start with driving K-Man to school and end with picking him up – I’m not sure that a smaller bike makes much sense as an option either. (I’m pretty sure that at two-and-a-half K-Man isn’t quite ready to “ride [filtered word].” See what a good, responsible dad I am?)
While I know that plenty of dads ride motorcycles (some even every day), there’s part of me (the dad part) that does think about the danger. Before K-Man, I never thought about it. You can’t ride a motorcycle in fear. Yes, you can ride safely, but you can’t ride thinking about the “what if.” If you do – you’re going to crash. (Same goes for sports like skiing. Ski scared and you’re looking at a knee reconstruction and a year of rehab.)
So, what now? Maybe the Harley dream becomes the “convertible dream.” Maybe like the onetime dream of someday starting at shortstop for the (then Anaheim) Angels, this dream has “grown up” too. I’m not really sure. Truth is that I LOVE my Harley and I feel so completely at peace when I’m riding a motorcycle. There’s just something about the rush that comes from feeling that free. I’ve had many “aha moments” on a (Who knows? Maybe I get that in a classic convertible.) But, regardless of whether the Harley dream is growing up, or simply going on sabbatical, the fact remains that dreams die hard. And, this one, in particular has been part of my life for 35 years.
After a year of talking about selling the bike, it looks like Step One is taking place tomorrow. When my bike is loaded on the back of the truck, I might just cry. (But, certainly not in front of the burly tattooed Harley dude who will be picking it up.)