October 2016 nudged the calendar to the 70th birthday for my father in law. As a gift to her dad my wife asked people he has known throughout his lifetime to write a letter to him, most of the responses tell him how he has impacted their lives. Her goal was to get 70, she received 73 or 74. You go girl! The idea was to compile a unique, hand crafted book, a keepsake that would lovingly bind these letters together. Over the past few days I have had the pleasure of reading a selection of the letters and the common thread is this: Life is a series of moments, opportunities if you will, to make a positive impact in another person’s life. Throughout his existence her father has made this concept a way of life, through his generosity expressed in countless ways, through his passion for food and cooking, and through his passion for God.
Several of the letter writers thanked him for being the reason they had such happy lives. What a wonderful gift to be able to receive? To hear from another person that something you did to them or for therm made such an impact that it changed the course of their life, in a positive way. I can only hope to be able to achieve this.
It got me thinking about some of the people who have had an impact on my life. In high school I had a teacher who showed me the value of learning new things, educating and challenging myself. Another came when I was a kid working in a bicycle shop, I had a friend who was an auto mechanic. He showed me the difference between doing a repair and caring about the repair you are working on. While working at that bike shop I met an unassuming expert desert racer who was kind enough to take me under his wing and introduce me to off-road riding. I had owned several street bikes but never did the dirt bike thing. I am so thankful to him for this I have to mention his name, Eric Mattson. One day he took the time to pack up his truck with his 86 CR250 and his new, at the time, 91 or 92 CR250 with two sets of riding gear so we could go trail riding at Gorman in Southern California. I don’t remember the date or time of year but it was a beautiful day, one that was pivotal in my life as it set in motion a trajectory that would forever include motorcycles and motorcycling. Since that fateful day I have met a lot of other motorcycle enthusiasts, male and female each with a story to tell about how they got into riding. It usually includes a tale of their first bike, often inspired by one of the vintage street motorcycles in my shop, Gaston Motorcycle Werks. I have found most people will tell you it was a friend who first got them on a bike. And when they finally got a bike of their own they usually had to hide it from their parents. Some of the lucky few will tell you it was their father who made the introduction. I have always envied these people as it seems they have a much tighter bond with their father than I could ever dream of having with mine. Another thing I have noticed throughout my lifetime is the majority of my closest friends have been motorcyclists. I have never really understood why, perhaps it’s the kindred spirit thing.
Having passion for motorcycling is pretty amazing and non riders just don’t seem to get it. But being able to share the riding experience with another person takes it to a new level, turning someone on to riding. As an avid street rider I have been fortunate enough to share my passion for off-road riding with a number of dedicated road riders and it’s awesome to see them take to it.
We’re coming to the close of another riding season here in North Carolina and the stage will be set for the new season. With this I will embark on the next chapter in my motorcycling life, one that has me wrapped in excitement on one hand and absolutely terrified on the other. I have two young boys, the oldest is 5 and the youngest is 17 months. Up to this point, motorcycling is something daddy does. While I have taken each of them for rides around the neighborhood and both love going on the bike, neither has ever really ridden on their own. Just one quick search on YouTube will illustrate the potential results of allowing this. And to make matters worse, my 5 year old is starting to bug me about wanting to ride his bike without me on it. As a parent my primary goal has been to keep my children alive and keep them from getting hurt and so we come to the dichotomy of the situation. My enthusiasm to share the lifestyle we call motorcycling which has brought me so much joy and happiness and knowing the terrible pain and suffering that lifestyle could potentially bring to the thing I love more than motorcycles, my offspring.
I said at the beginning of this article “Life is a series of moments, opportunities to make a positive impact in another person’s life”. Let’s hope all those we introduce riding love it and live to a healthy ripe old age.