Some places are just made for riding. Think of long, winding mountain roads in the scenic Southwest of the U.S. Other places don’t have the same appeal and are less than desirable for riders.
When I first started riding motorcycles on the street, I lived in Arizona. It was a great place to ride. It didn’t matter if it was on the street or out in the desert, the riding was fantastic. Then I moved back to New Jersey and stopped riding. I was originally from Jersey and had a lot of family there. It was home, and I came back after living 5 years in Arizona.
Of all the places in the U.S., New Jersey may be the last place you’d think of for riding motorcycles. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of riders here and some of the riding is OK, but that’s not the norm. Jersey has too much traffic, too many red lights, and a lot of road rage. But, if you’re going to live in New Jersey, the area I live in isn’t what most people think of when they think of Jersey. It’s far removed from the high-traffic areas but the roads just don’t call to you. I was so disappointed that I got rid of my bike shortly after moving back to Jersey, and completely walked away from riding for about a decade. Though I’d look back fondly on my time in Arizona and all the fun of riding, getting another motorcycle was the last thing on my mind, until nearly 10 years later when I got a call from my friend Darryl.
It wasn’t a typical Saturday, as I had a day off from work, when Darryl called me up. “Bring your pickup truck over and give me a hand getting this bike to the shop,” he said over the phone. He had done some work for a guy who ended up not having enough money to pay him, so Darryl ended up with a motorcycle. (Or something like that. I’m not exactly sure how he ended up getting it. Maybe he’ll chime in with a comment below and let me know?) It wasn’t running great, so we loaded it in my truck and took it to the dealer. While he was talking with the service guys, I killed some time by browsing the showroom.
The last time I was in this shop was about 20 years prior, when I was a 10-year-old kid and my dad took me there when he bought a motorcycle. Though I had no desire to buy a motorcycle when I went in this time, I was starting to contemplate it as I browsed. No salesman was trying to convince me to buy a bike or take one for a test ride, but a deep-buried urge started to creep to the surface. I hunted down a salesperson and asked some questions. A few of the bikes were within my budget, and I had some serious thinking to do.
After a few days, I decided on a brand new Suzuki Marauder. The price was right and I figured it was a good enough bike to get me back into riding. I still had a few details to work out, like the fact that I didn’t renew my motorcycle license when I moved back from Arizona. Nothing that proved too problematic, I just took the DMV test and was back on two wheels after what felt like forever.
It was a little unexpected and took a short amount of time to get comfortable on a bike again, nothing that a little practice couldn’t fix. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I’d have the bike for more than 20 years and put more than 100,000 miles on it. I still ride it!