My wife, youngest daughter, and I have spent the past few days in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. Many of the shops have motorcycle leather items like boots, jackets, etc. They also carry many porcelain figurines shaped like motorcycles and other items that are unrelated to motorcycles. I have been to shops like them hundreds of times but this time was different.
I started looking for something, anything that was not emblazoned with or looked like a Harley. I found nothing. My eyes were opened to something that I was blind to when I drank the HD Kool-Aid. Other riders are treated like lower class citizens. I am a little of both I guess since I own both but you will not fund me treating another rider badly. Just saying.
Christmas. No doubt Christmas is a time for us to celebrate the birth of Jesus. It is also the time kids wait all year for so they can wake up on Christmas morning, that sparkle of magic in their eye, the unbridled excitement oozing from their every move and word. That is me. The difference is that I have been living that dream since February 22nd.
You see, I have hit a point in my life where things change. Recent events have left me time to reflect on life and how short it really is. My nine year old daughter Brianna passed away on March 21, 2012 after battling a brain tumor for over fifteen months. Her battle and death placed new perspective on life in general. One thing that really hit home for me was that we should all live each day like there may not be another. We hear people say that so often and we just dismiss it but when you are faced with a situation like Brianna’s you see it first hand.
Other things changed. Either from lessons learned or just a mid life crisis I decided I was tired of riding a cruiser. I have had my Harley Davidson Softail Custom since February 1999 when I picked her up from Big Red HD (now known as Bloomington HD) when it was in Elletsville. Prior to that I had another HD and one of my first bikes was a 1984 Honda Shadow. About two years ago I had a thought of maybe jumping on the adventure bike bandwagon. I would mention this to my HD buddies and they would look at me like I had lost my mind. I dismissed the thought and let it sit on the backburner. About a year later I began to get the urge again and fellow instructors let me ride their BMW f800GS and a Suzuki DL650 V-Strom. I fell in love with both bikes. I pictured myself on the f800GS but the picture quickly distorted when I found out the price and the fact that BMW just might stand for Big Money Well. HD has their Hundred Dollars and BMW has their moniker as well.
Over the next several months my picture started to come back in view but this time it had a V-Strom in it. I started looking at Cycle Trader and checking out prices and thought I might be able to swing one. The more thought I gave it and the medical bills still needing to be paid returned me to reality pretty quickly and I started looking at used. We had a little money in the bank and three bikes in the garage and the wheels started spinning. About three months ago I really started feeling that I could get a used bike with very low payments or no payments. The internet checks showed that the dealers seemed to be shooting for top dollar so I started searching elsewhere.
The search brought me to three sites. Stromtrooper, ADV Rider, and VStrom Owners International.I inquired about a few motorcycles that interested me and finally decided on two. I sent messages to both sellers and only got a response from one. A 2009 VStrom DL 650 in Charlotte, NC. The seller was willing to sell outright or was willing to entertain trade offers. I offered up a 2006 HD Sportster 883 and some cash but he did not want a Sportster. He had many other offers on the table so I had to make a decision and I decided that I would pay the cash price. I sent a message and did not hear anything for a couple of days. Finally I got the call and the bike was going to be mine. I let him know I would be there on Saturday to pick her up. Next time I will talk all about the road trip to pick it up.
2009 Suzuki VStrom DL650 at her old home in Charlotte, NC