Mid-Life Rider

rambling through mid-life on motorcycles

Mid-Life Rider header image 3


My name is Kevin. You’ll find me on various different forums as Camera56. I am not “the” expert on motorcycles or riding, but I have words. Lots of words.

Perhaps more importantly, I not only know what I like and don’t like, but I know why and I know how to describe why. So that’s why I’m here.

I grew up loving everything and anything transportation related. It started with cars, moved to airplanes, and ended up with Motorcycles. All that before I was twelve. The cycle kept going pretty much without end until . . . well it hasn’t really stopped.

Since that time, I’ve read and dreamed about boats, trains, trucks, and lord knows what else.

As I write this, I find that motorcycles and motorcycling has won. It’s what I think about when I’m not doing something that at the time seems more important.

I’ll go out on a limb here and say that I’m probably pretty representative of a class of folks I’m calling “mid-life riders.” Particularly the kind that are either taking up motorcycles for the first time, or after a long interegnum. If you’re someone who’s ridden uninterrupted for decades, I envy and respect you.

At the first available opportunity, I bought a motorcycle. In my case, that took moving away from the house and town where I grew up and landing in Hawaii at the age of 24. About ten minutes after getting off the plane I was down at the Honda dealer where I bought a 1980 CB 750. It was a lovely piece. Black with a stripe, a new dual-overhead cam, and triple disks. Today I have a similar sort of bike, a 2003 Kawasaki Z7-S which seems like such a dog in comparison to what’s available today. But then, the bike in question, was the bomb.

Not knowing any better, I bought a helmet and some gloves and set off around Oahu to see the sites. In retrospect, it was hubris and folly of the first order. I didn’t really have a clue what I was doing and I was barely protected . . . though later I would find myself riding with even less; shorts, sandals, and Ray Bans.

I managed to survive my introduction to riding, but my riding-ways were soon to slip into the past. That next year I moved to San Francisco with my new wife. The CB had to go. Not long after we bought a tiny little Vespa 50 which we used to cavort about The City. But it wasn’t the same. My riding days were done as kids and career and such elbowed to the front.

Fast forward a couple of decades. Kids are gone. We’re living in a new city. Out of nowhere, the urge is back. I need a bike.It wasn’t exactly out of nowhere. The match that lit the fuse was a walk that took us by a Vespa shop about five blocks from our new flat. It didn’t take long for a shiny red one to come on home and with that, it was game on. Later that year, without a lot of thought or research, I bought a Ducati Multistrada.

Since that time my riding has gone in two different directions.The first is sport touring. The Ducati gave way the next year to a Yamaha FJR 1300, an absolutely magnificent mileage-eater. Like everyone else that buys bikes like these, mine has been modified (the term is actually “farkled”) t0 a high level. I’ve been lots of places on it and plan on going lots more.

Last year I got fired up about riding on a track. It took one day for me to see the wisdom of an entirely different sort of bike. Next up was a sport bike.

During all that time, I’ve bought more gear than I care to think about, or than my wife cares to know about. I’m a gear hound and motorcycling feeds that mania like nothing else.

Also during this recent “re-entry” journey, I’ve hung around on a bunch of different forums, mostly reading, but sometimes writing. I find myself in awe of the depth of knowledge displayed by folks much more hardcore than me.So why this site? I like motorcycles, I like riding, and I like to write. As you might be able to tell, I’m alright with a camera as well. I also get a fair number of inquires from friends and colleagues as to what I think about this or that bike of piece of gear.

One of the things you learn as you get older is that opinions are just that . . . opinions, not holy tablets or divine inspiration. I have plenty of my own and I’ve decided that world just won’t be as well off as it might without me sharing what I think about bikes, gear, riding, and maybe racing.

Besides being verbose and middle-aged, I also offer that I’m on my way to becoming a certified Lee Parks Total Control teacher. I’m obsessive about what I do and a bit of a technique freak to boot.

So if you’re like me, a middle-aged rider who’s into bikes, kick off your boots and stick around. I don’t know a lick about cruisers so I can’t help you there. I know even less about dirt riding though that may change. But if you’re interested in riding street bikes from one of the greater or lesser European or Japanese makers, I might have a word or three you might enjoy.



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