I googled XR 75 and found what I was looking for. I am not sure if I should use this picture. I am not clear on the copyright issues when it comes to finding something on the internet, then sort of sliding its' location around, so somebody else can see it. I mean, I never actually took it from the internet, right? It is still on the internet, and I don't possess it. Right?
I am merely a guy who comes into another's space and moves his football trophies around just to see if anybody notices...
Besides, I think the statue of limitations on this kind of thing is seven years. I can stay out back in the pump house for at least that long, maybe longer...
OK. Here is the deal. When I was ten and my brother eleven, Mum and pops bought Steve and I an XR75 motorcycle. I would love to say that it was their inspiration, but the truth was, my friend G, who I've written about many times on this blog, got one from his banker papa for his birthday, and Steve and I figured it was worth begging, crying, whining, pleading, crying some more, and doing dishes like we loved it in order to find a chink in Pop's credit card armor and head off into the hills.
The deal Pops made was a stroke of genuis on his part. One bike. That was all. No riding without a helmet (or gas, for that matter.) "What do you mean we have to buy our own helmets? How much **gulp** is gas?"
Steve and I mowed laws for a month before we were able to even start the thing. We had already taken it apart and put it back together a few times (just the tank, seat, and fenders--you know, the easy stuff) and by the time we had our helmets we were in a fight over who got to ride it first. The fight cost us two weeks of "no motorcycle" (Pops found lots of leverage in this little machine, to be sure...) and a coin toss won me first ride.
I brought it back with a broken throttle cable and a torn seat.
Steve jury rigged the throttle and came back with a squarish rear wheel.
And so it went. Every other day, after school, it was either my day or Steve's day. We crashed and burned, we flipped and fell, we jumped and landed, we donuted and tried to ride wheelies, often flipping over backwards and sending the nearly new motorcycle on a solo mission into fencing. After thirty straight days of riding, Steve and I had actually gotten pretty good, but our motorcycle was absolutely thrashed. Mum helped us take it in to the Honda dealership we bought it from for its break-in check over...
We had broken it in, alright.
They couldn't believe what they saw. We had tried to paint the gas tank, but didn't know about gas eating away enamel paint. The tank was blue with orange drip streaks and gummy parts. The rear wheel had a huge flat spot in it and wobbled side to side. The chain was toast. The handle bars bent and restraightened to the point that the chrome on the tubing was cracking away, and rust was forming. The seat was just duct tape. The clutch and brake levers were pretzles. There was no rubber on the rear tire. Pops had been gone flying so Mum was there on her own deaing with the mechanic who shook his head like a doctor might to a terminally ill patient's family...
"I don't think we can save it," his look seemed to say.
"What the hell happened to this bike?" is what the guy asked me and Steve while my Mum looked on...
Mum spent three hundred dollars on a five hundred dollar motorcycle to get it back into a reasonable condition. We were to pay her back before we rode the bike again. Pops would help us repaint the tank a beautiful blue, and after three months of mowing laws everyday after school, Steve and I would begin sharing the XR75 every other day once again.
When I think about this little machine, I wonder why we ever sold it. I had it all the way through high school. I don't know how many miles were on it, but the hours it had were immense. By the time I graduated high school, the motorcycle was so small on me that I used it as an afternoon diversion while I waited for food. Remember that period of time that existed between getting home from school and sitting down to eat? I got home around three forty five, and we ate at six, or six thirty. That was two hours to kill five days a week. In summer, I swam in our pool. In colder days, I would often start up the little motorcycle and ride wheelies everywhere and anywhere. I would simply squeeze the seat with my legs, rev and pop, then ride around on one wheel like I was born with a wheel between my legs. I could go up hill, down, turn left, right, spin, almost stop completely, and then proceed onward. I was as comfortable on one wheel as I was on two feet. I'm not kidding.
This motorcycle represents a smorgasborg of stories that go along with it. I already told ya'll about my sister getting a ticket with our German Shephard.
But since I was going on about wheelies, I'll tell you this cute tale.
In the nineties, I was down in the Yucatan remodling a house on a lagoon for some kinda famous people. I had access to an architect who had access to labor. He knew who to call for tile work, cement work, and the like. He had a cousin who did not speak English, but who was very eager to be my friend. His name was Raul and he had a house in Tulumn near the Tulumn pyramid tourist trap and BBQ...
I stayed with him one night and we drank beers and tried to swap tales. His sister kept coming around and kept asking me if I wanted to share a shower with her. I think she was teasing Raul more than me, because she asked in English and looked to Raul for a response. I sensed a feminine trap and opened her a beer with my armpit to change the subject. We slept on hammocks and in the morning Raul fed the three of us and then offered to teach me how to ride his motorcycle. I don't know why, but I had somehow given him the impression that I had no clue about motorcycles. Perhaps it was the mischief-maker in me?
Anyway, he had a Kawasaki 100. It was about the size of my XR75 and way too small for me. Raul offered to "teach" me how to ride. I played along. He showed me the clutch. The throttle. The brakes. The gear shift lever. One down, four up. Nuetral between first and second. OK.
I played the perfect dupe. I revved the engine too much. I popped the clutch too quickly. The bike went into a wheelie and all I could do was squeeze my legs around the seat and yell "HELP!" while I took off down the road in a panic and about to crash into just about everything. Raul chased me down the road in heroic fashion. I was a poor American in trouble on a motorcycle that I didn't know how to control. I turned in a wheelie and now I was heading straight for Raul. He ran the other way as we both yelled "HELP!" in our respective languages. I turned again and headed toward the beach. Still in a wheelie, still out of control, I followed the sinewy path between the trees... Raul finally stopped chasing after me...
I don't know what he said, because it was in colloquial Spanish.
But I can guess.