Motor Bikes

I've had an unrequited love affair with motorcycles ever since I was about thirteen or fourteen years old.  A couple of weeks ago, I finally decided to take the first steps in scratching this two-wheeled itch, and I signed up for a beginner's motorcycle riding course to get my motorbike license and learn to tame these metal beasts.  Because of this, I've been thinking about where this strange obsession that's been bugging me for almost two decades came from.

I grew up around motorcycles.  My dad, and all of my uncles on my mother's side, all had motorcycles and were constantly riding them.  I was always around dudes on motorcycles, dudes arriving on motorcycles, and dudes getting ready to go somewhere on motorcycles.  Some of my earliest little-kid memories are sitting on the back of my dad's motorcycle, riding through the Nebraska panhandle to Scottsbluff, and visiting Celli's Cycle Center.  I'd run around, sit on all the shiny new motorcycles and ATVs, and play with the enormous dog that helped man the store.

At this point, though, I wasn't in love with the idea of riding a motorcycle.  Two-wheeled vehicles were just a part of life.  They were so ubiquitous in my world that they seemed a standard of adult life, like when a boy grew up he was handed a wife, some kids, a house, a job, and a motorcycle.  No, if I had to pinpoint the first moments, the initial spark, of my motorbike obsession it was probably seeing the 1988 Japanese animated film Akira in my early teens.  In particular, the following scene:


There is/was just something about the combination of the music, great art, teenage angst and rebellion, violence, speed, cyber-punk setting, how alien the Japanese culture felt to me, and the goofy coolness of that early English dub that planted a seed in my adolescent brain, and it's never really stopped growing.  I dreamed, literally had dreams in my bed as I slept, of riding through the streets of Neo-Tokyo on a high-tech Japanese street bike, outrunning the cops and battling opposing gangs.

As silly and juvenile as those fantasies were, pieces of it never went away, and here I am awaiting my first class on motorcycle riding basics and still dreaming of fast, red, Japanese street bikes.