Best and Worst of 2017

I wasn’t going to do this, but Fuzzy Galore said on her blog that I should and I am a sucker for data and milestones.  So let’s dive in!

2017 was a weird year.  I would say that it was easily one of the worst I’ve had to slog through.  There were some pretty serious medical issues that went on within the family and that was certainly something to endure.  And living in Hawaii and dealing with them dusting off the legitimate nuclear alarm sirens wasn’t the most calming thing in the world.  Hurricanes happened.  Nazis happened.  Who would have thought that Nazis happening was going to be a thing?

Anyway, focusing beyond the world’s happenings, things weren’t so great in the family either.  This was a genuinely rough year, filled with all sorts of depression, anxiety, and uncertainty.

On the other hand, 2017 was pretty great because it was my first year on two wheels!  I bought my Honda Ruckus, crashed it less than a minute after gingerly pulling the throttle and learned you have to lean AND turn the bars.

I had all sorts of thoughts run through my head as I pulled myself and my scooter up.  I was filled with doubt and shame because everyone – literally everyone I work with that has ever operated a motorbike of any sort – said that scooters are super easy and, if you can’t ride that, you shouldn’t ride anything.

And here I was, brushing my elbow and leg off and trying to get away before a neighbor called the cops.

It was beyond interesting to basically learn how to drive again as a 33-year-old.  I had the same instincts I did as a kid learning to drive a car (mainly “we probably shouldn’t do this.  I mean, how hard is it to walk everywhere?  Walking’s healthier anyway!”), but I was old and experienced enough to realize this was just instinct and, over time, I would get better.  It was just a matter of fighting through it.

My riding this year was particularly interesting for me to turn over in my head a bit as my motivations changed a lot.  I bought a scooter because it was cheap and I needed a commuter vehicle to get to and from work.  I was ONLY going to ride to and from work (two miles one way, give or take).  I was going to make modifications, but wasn’t going to get into the guts at all – strictly bolt-on stuff.

But then I got my Ruckus and the bolt-on stuff was so much fun I had to progress and eventually found myself taking apart the carburetor (it’s easy, though – definitely nothing to be scared of).  I found myself wanting to ride on weekends to practice and this turned into riding to lunch or someplace that WASN’T work.  I took the Basic RiderCourse (a requirement for operating a scooter in my line of work) and realized that it would probably be smart to learn how to operate a clutch and gears, which meant I should start looking at real motorcycles.

I was so smitten with the idea of riding, that I convinced one of my best friends to get a bike and he ended up with a Grom.  A Grom that is stored in my garage as his condo doesn’t have motorcycle parking (but makeS up for this with plenty of motorcycle thefts, though).  I’ve been looking at it for almost a year now and, when he outgrew it, I was there to tell him I’d make him whole again cost-wise if he sold it to me.

So right now it’s like I’ve got a Grom on lay-away.  That’s pretty exciting.

I tackled the Ruckus stretch which, while there were plenty of pictures to guide me through the process, took a LOT longer than I expected and was a huge hassle.  I definitely made some mistakes and plan on getting a new rear frame shipped out next year to help make me feel better about the job.  I won’t lie: I’m excited and not excited about this.  I’m definitely excited to do a  better job on the mods, but not excited at all about either the process or the fact that my friend and helper will have moved away by then.  Not cool.

Ultimately, though, the coolest thing to happen this year was just falling in love with riding.  I’ve always wanted to ride motorcycles and after the initial nerves started to wear away, I started to feel like this was something I should be doing.  You know?  Like in the movies where someone has a talent they didn’t know about?  But, instead of a talent, it’s more like an affinity.  Until I started riding, I had no idea how much I would love it, but once I got into it, I found out I’ve never loved anything as much beyond the standard wife and kids.  I had gone 33 years THINKING I loved various activities, but I found out the truth this year.

The second-coolest thing is becoming a proselytizer for motorcycling.  When I finished BRC, I started going around at work talking to people.  “Do you know how to ride?  Do you WANT to know how to ride?”  The ones that did go would ride to work and we would ride together for lunch or I would ride behind them as they went out on longer rides in unfamiliar territories.  A lot of them were also under the mistaken impression that they were just getting a commuter vehicle before the love of riding set in and they started to branch out.

I’ve gotten three coworkers to go to the course, two of which bought bikes immediately after and seeing them smiling as they take off their helmets and knowing it’s because I wouldn’t stop pestering them about just how flippin’ GREAT riding is is (unsurprisingly) very satisfactory for my own ego.

As far as the world goes, I don’t have very high hopes for 2018.  I see a lot of 2017 happening all over again with more deaths, more scares, and more crap.  But there are some glimmer of hopes if only small and incredibly personal.  I’ll get my Grom.  I’ll explore the island of Oahu on it (and write about the trips here), and hopefully get more people to at least go to the BRC if only to become more aware of what motorcyclists have to do to ride and maybe drive their cars a little smarter.

-Russ

 

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