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My Motorcycle Life Story (so far)

Joined
Apr 4, 2006
Messages
13,843
Location
Arlington, TX
Here I am, the ripe old age of thirty. I've been riding motorized vehicles for the past 28 years. I have always told stories of my first three wheeler, first dirt bike, first jump, and so forth. But not once have I took the time to dig up photos that link it all together. When my Grandma passed away a few weeks ago she left me a bunch of photos of when I was younger so I was finally able to put pictures with most of it.

And here is where I figure it is only fair to share it with you all. After all, I've met so many of you through the years, gone on many a ride, and sat down to share many a meal with; I figured the least I could do was give you my motorbiking history. And like the old adage says, "No pictures means it never happened". So here goes; the 20 or so photos that best illustrate my life and times of the past 28 years on motorcycles. Enjoy the story because it's the only one I got.


It all started in late '83 or early 84'.
I was two'ish and my Dad in all his wisdom decided that I was plenty old enough to pilot my own motorized vehicle. Now being the ever so safety conscious type that he was, he narrowed his choice down to a perfectly safe Yamaha Tri-Zinger. A three-wheeler that was so safe the federal government later banned them. Okay, you all know they banned all three-wheelers, but my point still stands.

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Please note the importance of safety equipment was taught to me early. Come on folks, my head wasn't even fully hardened yet and you got me riding this thing with no helmet! So I spent many a day riding around on that while my Dad chased me with his Honda Big Red three-wheeler. Me being the ever so observant kiddo, I would watch Dad doing tricks on his and wanted to do the same on mine. I mean, how hard can it be to ride on two wheels when you are less than three years old?

Here is where I will have to defer to my Mom's recollection of the story. She told me many a time of the day that I was out by myself on my three-wheeler and tried to ride on two-wheels. Long story short it ended up with my ATV upside down in the street and me walking back to the house crying with diaper half torn off, and sticks and mud in my hair. See, I told you they were into equipping me with only the best safety gear.

So here I am learning how to jump for the first time. We had a little loop in our back yard with a few mounds of dirt my Dad piled up with his tractor for us to ride over.

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And here I am giving Grandma a ride on the back for the first time.

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So as I started to get older, the ol’ Tri-Zinger just wasn't going to do. I started to ride my Dad's Big Red more and more so I guess he took the hint and decided to get me something bigger. Here I am riding his three-wheeler in a parade benefiting the local VFD where my Dad volunteered most of his time.
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Later that year he surprised me with my new ATV. 185cc's, two-wheel drive, no rear suspension, and shiny red. She was a beauty and I rode the wheels off of that thing. I wish I had more diverse pictures of it, but all I could find was me hauling around the same parade wagon in our front pasture.
BillyJ-4.jpg


I lucked out growing up. We weren't rich by any stretch, always shopping at Wal-Mart for the sale items, and never going "to town" to spend money on movies or whatnot. We lived 30 minutes away from the closest grocery store, and an hour from the closest movie theater. But I was fortunate that my Mom and Dad always made sure I had some sort of motorized vehicle as my toy growing up. They were never new, and I learned from the beginning that if I broke it I better learn how to fix it because there wasn't another one coming if I broke the one I had.

Funny story time... so my Mom and I loved to take the little Kawasaki out to some of the local large pastures to hike around. We would ride out there on the county roads, park the four-wheeler in the ditch and go hike for a few hours through the fields. That was all well and good until one day we came back to the four-wheeler only to find it gone. Later that week, we read an ad in the paper that a guy had "found" it and would gladly return it for a finder's fee. My Dad talked to the Sheriff and he confirmed that it was completely legal to do so. So that be a lesson to you all, go steal stuff and then put an ad in the paper saying you found it and all you want is a finder's fee.

Anywho, onward and upward.
It is finally time for my addiction to two wheels to start. Once I was out-growing the Kawasaki's capabilities by jumping the thing until my folks were starting to get worried about the frame breaking (remember, no rear suspension), they decided to get me the gold standard of beginner dirt bikes. The mighty Honda XR200 was next.

This was about the time my Mom and Dad got divorced so my Mom and I had some free time on our hands during my summer vacations. For the next four or five years in a row we would head up to Salida, Colorado and ride dirt bikes around fire roads for a few weeks. My Mom grew up in Salida and I still have an Aunt and Uncle that live there. We would base out of their house and just go ride the areas around her childhood house.
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That is her on my XR200, and I am riding my Uncle's KDX. My first two-stroke experience! I don't count the Tri-Zinger just because I really don't remember much from back then. Anyway, look at us, we were dual-sporting and never even knew it. Yeah... my Mom was a bad***, she was dual sporting with nothing but a half helmet and a canteen strapped to the forks. I'm telling ya, hardcore. We didn't even have a Spot Tracker for Christ's sake!:lol2:

We did that for four or five years like a said, but in the mean time I was getting a little big for the XR. My Dad came through again and we went out and bought a 1983 XR500 that was pristine. With that bike came my entry into racing, and coincidentally lots of small injuries. I raced TCCRA on a four-stroke back when four-strokes were only for goofy folks that couldn't handle the power of a two-stroke, or Scott Summers, the guy that didn't care what people told him about his bike choice. Anyone remember Scott Summers, the cross country guy that could dead lift his XR600? That guy was my hero when I was learning how to race.
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If any of you are really care, ask me sometime about the story of my first ever race with TCCRA. It's too long of a story for this post, but I'll gladly tell you how the back half of that XR ended up completely wrapped up in barbed wire about a mile into the first lap.

Tired of reading yet? Hey, like I said it's the only story I got so it isn't like I'm about to type up another one anytime soon.

So here I am turning sixteen. I got my driver's license that week, and two weeks later I was taking the MSF course to get my M endorsement. My Dad had a Honda Shadow that he kept at our house so I was able to ride it to school and back. I guess this is when I really started to like being the center of attention on a motorbike. When you ride your motorbike as a sixteen year old to a little Podunk school you tend to turn heads.

Here is a shot that my Dad got of me taking my Mom for a ride on it. Please note the safety trend continues for now.
BillyJ-8.jpg


Okay, sad time for a little bit. My Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer while I was in high school. She had a mastectomy and got the all clear from her doc. When I graduated, she moved up to Idaho to semi-retire and be closer to her family. Why am I telling you this, you might ask? Well, it explains the next chapter as to why I stopped riding for a few years. She moved, I got a rent house in West Fort Worth, and a job in Dallas. I spent the next year commuting to work and living my life. Then I got that phone call that I never wanted to get. Long story short I dumped my life to move up to Idaho and take care of my Mom for the next nine months. She passed away a few days before my 20th birthday. Yeah I know, total story buzzkill. But hey, we got to spend some really good time together.

So, I moved back to the DFW area and picked up where I left off. My Dad still had a hold of that Honda and wasn’t riding it so he basically gave it back to me again and off I went riding the thing back and forth to work. It all changed on that fateful day late July when I decided to go down a path that little did I know would be so addicting. The world of long distance touring was just in front of me.

I decided that in two weeks I was going to ride up to Sturgis, hang out for a few days and then ride back. I mean, what could go wrong with this plan. My gear consisted of a Wilson’s leather jacket, half helmet, extra clothes, and a multi-tool. I didn’t have spare tubes, an air pump, patch kit, emergency supplies, rain gear, or anything else helpful. So off to Sturgis I went, and if you’ve never been, even if you aren’t a cruiser guy or gal, trust me when I tell you that you need to go once just to see it.

BillyJ-11.jpg


Geez oh mighty I was skinny back then. What the heck happened to me now? It was Sturgis that I learned that 1100cc’s was not enough to keep you ahead of semi-trucks when you were fighting a headwind to the tune of 40mph. It was also Sturgis that I demo’d the bike that I knew for a fact was going to be my next motorcycle. Yamaha was there and they happened to have a few Warriors available for a test ride and I was hooked. Still to this day, if I had the extra money I would own another one. It is the most impractical motorbike ever made unless your main hobby is bar hopping. But the thing has soul.

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The next two years were spent torturing my back by logging 40k miles in under 24 months on that thing. With a fuel range of right at 110 miles that equals a tank of fuel every two days for two years. That is the one thing I don’t miss about that bike. I rode it to North Carolina twice, Arkansas three or four times, Hill Country more times than I can count, and everywhere in between. Oh yeah, nine rear tires in two years. SWMotoTire LOVED me.

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Then, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was doing a ride around TX, when I made my first trip to BBNP. There is just something about that place. Sure it’s just some rocks, lots of sand, some gravel, lots of angry plants, but the sum is definitely greater than its parts.

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Now here is what hit me. The Warrior makes a pretty lousy dual-sport bike. It’ll do it if you force it, but it really doesn’t like it.

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There were so many little dirt roads shooting off everywhere, but here I am with a bike that is always about to run out of gas, I can’t stand up on it, and because of the torque it eats rear tires in less than 5k miles. It was time for a change, and change was going to be ugly.

BillyJ-19.jpg


Out with the old, and in with the new. Okay if we really want to get technical, they are both 2005 models, so it is more like out with the used, and in with the less used. I bought the Strom with a little over 10k miles on it in January of 2007. I still have it to this day, and hands down it is the most useful bike I’ve ever ridden or owned. I’ve put 80k additional miles on it since buying it and it has never let me down once.

It has taken me on two five thousand mile round trips through Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, and back. Countless Hill Country trips, several Big Bend trips, probably fifteen trips to Houston and back, and one small trip to Alaska and back.

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Now 2007 was also not without its fair share of drama. I had my worst crash to date on a motorcycle, a highside in Arkansas that required a helicopter ride, and shortly after that a fairly nasty divorce that really hit me hard.

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Sorry, no pictures of the divorce so you will just have to take my word for it. If you want, just imagine an empty wallet and a guy crying about it and I’ll let you just picture it in your head. Now why on Earth am I telling you about my divorce? Well, like with my Mom it ushers in a new chapter in my riding career.

Before the divorce I had been wanting to get back into off-road riding. It had been way too long and I was feeling the dirt calling me. So right after the divorce was settled, I found myself a deal on a WR450 that I couldn’t pass up on.

BillyJ-23.jpg


I took that poor little bike to Big Bend a few times, East TX for a dual sport ride, but it’s main focus was throwing me down various rock piles up at Muenster. I’ve had it almost completely submerged to the point where we had to stand it up to drain the water out of the exhaust. It’s flipped completely over on the trail where it was sitting on the seat and handlebars yet the motor was still chugging away. It has sent me head first into who knows how many trees over the years and I just loved it. Never before was I so challenged by going so slow.

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And then the greatest thing happened. My then girlfriend, and now Wife was also bitten by the bug and got her a TW200 to go out and ride around on. That lasted for a while until she realized that for the type of riding we were doing that it was probably best to have a proper dirt bike. So as things always come full circle, she ended up with the greatest learner dirt bike in the world. The same bike that started me down my two wheeled path, the XR200, was now hers.

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And now this story is coming to a close for now. The most recent developments have been that my WR has been sold in favor of a YZ250 two-stoke that is literally like riding a 50hp mountain bike. The Strom is still going strong at 92k miles, and hopefully in two months Rachel and I will be riding motorbikes through the Scottish countryside. I also picked up a KLR that is now my main commuter/around town bike for a price that I couldn’t turn down. It has made a trip to Big Bend, and hopefully will be going back down there in the weeks to come.

As for the ending of this story, I won’t leave you with a photo. I’ve posted this before on here, but this is a story of my riding history so what good would it be without a dirt bike themed wedding video? This happened last October, and both Rachel and I couldn’t have asked for it to come together any better than it did. I am truly grateful for the huge role that motorcycles both street and dirt, ATV’s, and family have played in my life. Looking back on my past 30 years, all I can think of is that I better get planning on making the next 30 even better than the first.:chug:

[ame="http://vimeo.com/31566019"]Bill and Rachel's Trailer on Vimeo[/ame]
 
Joined
Sep 4, 2009
Messages
11,197
Location
Arlington
You haven't told me about The Crash. That'll be fare for some evening in the near future, to take your mind of the pain of jogging. :popcorn:
 
R

Red Brown

Nice story Bill!

My version would be boring. I started riding about six years ago. I took the MSF class then having never having ridden a motorcycle before. I have been a bit wobbly since I started riding, but lovin' every minute of it.

Those three wheelers look fun. I guess they don't make them anymore.

Happy Trails,

RB
 
Joined
Oct 9, 2007
Messages
11,228
Location
Far East DFW
Great stuff! You started at two? I can't even imagine my kiddo who turns three in a few weeks out there on a three wheeler. He's still gunshy of his powerwheels he got for Christmas and only starting to figure out his glide bike!

Shoot, my parents gave me a serious talking to when I came home and told them I wanted a minibike like my friend had. It was pretty clear I wasn't going to get a motorcycle under their roof, however I was allowed to cut my teeth on a big red three wheeler owned by our pastor when me and his son took it out...sans helmets as well! Great times. Love the story, thanks for sharing!
 
Joined
Mar 9, 2007
Messages
1,499
Location
Yoakum, Texas
Cool. Squeeky, JoyRider and I were talking about your wedding last Wednesday at Katy Bike Night. Squeeky was getting us caught up on all that had transpired since we took a "walk-about" four years ago. Which was right after we spent some quality time with you at the hospital in Arkansas! :doh:
 

TWTim

Forum Supporter
Joined
Feb 19, 2007
Messages
9,907
Location
Midland
This was great, Bill. Thanks for putting it together. It's funny how we get to a point where we interrelate our motorcycling adventures and bikes with the chapters of our lives and vice versa. I guess that's when you know that motorcycling is 100-percent a part of who you are as a person, and likely always will be.

George Carlin once said that life is just a series of dogs you own. For many of us on TWT, life is a series of motorcycles and rides. What a blessed way to be able to go through this world.
 
Joined
Jul 12, 2005
Messages
10,889
Location
Cleburne, TX
Good story, Bill :thumb:
For some reason I was thinking you were a fair bit older than me, turns out its just over a yr.

I actually know where you grew up. Well, the area anyway.

Keep on riding :rider:
 

Gilk51

2
Joined
Jan 14, 2005
Messages
17,293
Location
Arlington, Texas
OK, enough of this mamby-pamby verbage - ya'll need to know the rest of the story.

That Bill guy is a bum & I'm gonna expose him. He didn't even mention these other things that he has been involved in. :eek2:

Who, me?



Yeah, look innocent, bud. That is from his garage where he holds "meetings" with all sorts of questionable types.





Here are a bunch of people crowding around to hear him and see what he is doing. They carefully block the dastardly act from prying cameras like mine.



Look at this poor gal, forced to work in the cold.



He also attends these subversive meetings at other locations - here he plots with known Mansfield neer-do-wells:



Another meeting holder in Rendon. These two are extremely dangerous when together (he is already preaching his party line to me)



This is the type of sabotage he is up to - "fixing" this bike for a guy deployed to the Middle East



What is he up to?



Lynching a motorcycle?



weapons practice!



and weapons construction



more sabotage - this isn't his motorcycle!



This picture was made just prior to this poor young lady's bike catching fire. Bill is there - very suspicious



And look at the type of people he consorts with - this bunch was at some type of gang meeting in Mansfield:



and he has been known to hang out with those shady folks from Burleson:





and foreigners! ;-)



Well, he does have one redeeming quality - he loves dogs



(for those that don't know him - Bill has hosted several tech days, attended others, and changed numerous tires for people. He didn't mention that in his story above but it needs to be said)

BIll :thumb: :thumb:
 
Joined
Apr 4, 2006
Messages
13,843
Location
Arlington, TX
Those three wheelers look fun. I guess they don't make them anymore.
I forget when exactly but the government banned them not too long after I had gotten mine. So probably mid to late 80's if I were to guess. And don't worry too much, they really were some pretty unstable machines.
Great stuff! You started at two? I can't even imagine my kiddo who turns three in a few weeks out there on a three wheeler. He's still gunshy of his powerwheels he got for Christmas and only starting to figure out his glide bike!
What can I say, I guess I just had a knack for it at an early age. I can tell you now that doing it for so long doesn't mean I'm any good at it. This long into it and I'm still quite slow at dirt biking. I can pretty much make it up anything or down anything, I'm just slow at it and it may not look very pretty. LOL
When does the movie version of this story hit the theaters?

I vote George Clooney for the lead as Bill :trust:
He must have put on some weight if he is going to play this role.:trust:
Cool. Squeeky, JoyRider and I were talking about your wedding last Wednesday at Katy Bike Night. Squeeky was getting us caught up on all that had transpired since we took a "walk-about" four years ago. Which was right after we spent some quality time with you at the hospital in Arkansas! :doh:
We did get to spend some quality time together. You'll have to forgive me if I don't remember the particulars but those were some really good drugs. I just hope that I wasn't part of the cause of the walk-about. And I'm really glad to see you guys getting back into motorbiking.
This was great, Bill. Thanks for putting it together. It's funny how we get to a point where we interrelate our motorcycling adventures and bikes with the chapters of our lives and vice versa. I guess that's when you know that motorcycling is 100-percent a part of who you are as a person, and likely always will be.
My Mom would be proud that I didn't waste money on a fad. I think by this point in my life I would have either moved on to other things or just gotten bored with it if I wasn't really into riding. So I'm hoping that motorbikes are here to stay for a long time to come.
Good story, Bill :thumb:
For some reason I was thinking you were a fair bit older than me, turns out its just over a yr.

I actually know where you grew up. Well, the area anyway.
Oh yeah, you were pretty much down the road in Keene, right? Well, you are only as old as you feel and I can say that tonight I feel pretty darn old....LOL
ah geez, no mention of me, thanks a lot!! :giveup:
You... well, you were much like the Shrimp Store. Stick with me here.... I always told everyone that if I was within a hundred miles or so of the Shrimp Store, that I would make the detour to go there. You were also that way. Heck I'm still mad at you for moving away and ending our halfway lunch runs to the chicken fried steak place. On a sad note, the last time I drove by there, they had shut down.

(for those that don't know him - Bill has hosted several tech days, attended others, and changed numerous tires for people. He didn't mention that in his story above but it needs to be said)

BIll :thumb: :thumb:
Thanks for the kind words. I've always tried to give back to the motorcycling community as much as I could. I figure that as much as it has done for me and my life it is the least I could do. Plus a little motorbike good Karma can never be a bad thing, right? And as much as I ride I could use as much good fortune as I can get.

I just really hope to be able to enjoy two wheels for a long time to come. But I guess only time will tell.
 
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