Dan Segrue | Ambassador
…Don’t Always Set the Greatest of Examples!
In the name of honesty let me state that my “older sister” is not really my sister. She is a very close family friend. One of those friends that you just meet at that right point in your life. That point where you are still trying to figure everything out and not sure how you fit into this world. You know, those awkward years where you think you know it all. I can’t for the life of me remember how old I was when we meet. I know how old she was when she moved to Chicago and we started becoming close and if I didn’t have a healthy fear of her, I would publicly do the math to figure out how many years ago we met.
“All the years I have known her to this point I have heard about this mystical motorcycle she has tucked away…”
Fort Lauderdale, Florida is where it all went down. It also happens to be where my sister called home for the first part of her life. The summer after my high school graduation I was heading down to Orlando to see a friend and surprise them for their 18th birthday. My sister was going to be in Fort Lauderdale at the same time visiting her family, so I extend my trip by a few days to hang out with her. All the years I have known her to this point I have heard about this mystical motorcycle she has tucked away in her uncle’s shed. I make it known that I want to see this thing and I want to ride it. The day has finally come – she roles this bike out of the garage and I see it for the first time. I instantly fall in love with it. Side note: I think I have finally in writing this, realized why I have such an obsession with the mid 70’s motorcycles.
Knowing my sister the way I do, I can imagine this bike was a basket case of issues. All I remember is her saying the battery is dead and the starter doesn’t work. You have to kick start it. What? I have never in my life even seen a kick start bike. She tosses a leg over that bike and starts kicking the heck out of it! It must have taken 10-15 kicks to get this thing running. Now my sister is not a large person, she is not even a medium person, I would guess my sister weighs in at… no way am I putting a number to that. Lets just say, not a whole lot at all. A 360cc has less compression than a shaken up can of coke, but I am 19 years old and here is this strong female I look up to, just kicking the crap out of a bike and not taking no for an answer. And finally she gets this thing running, “Get on, and don’t let go of the throttle! It dies at idle.” she says. As a reminder, to this point I have never ridden a motorcycle in my life and looking back “…don’t let go of the throttle! It dies at idle.” is probably a terrible way to start a first lesson.
“Get on, and don’t let go of the throttle! It dies at idle.”
Before we get into that first ride let’s talk safety gear. It’s late August, early September in southern Florida. It’s just plain out HOT. I am decked out in the best of the best safety gear. Because, after all your sister would never let you learn to ride a bike wearing cut-off shorts, a t-shirt, flip flops, and no helmet, would she? Well I hope your sister wouldn’t, because this is the part that brings us back full circle to “Older sisters don’t always set the greatest of examples”.
One down, the rest up and off I go learning to ride a motorcycle – terrified to kill it because I don’t want to have to try to kick start this thing again. I don’t know how long I was out or how many times I had to kick it. I stopped counting after a bunch. What I do vividly remember about that day was the smile I had on my face. I was scared out of my mind and at peace all at the same time. There was just something about riding and being in control while the wind rushed past you that put me at such ease. I know right then that I had to have a bike of my own.
But Is That Really True?
Within a month of coming home from that trip I bought my first, of VERY many, motorcycles. A 360cc to be exact, just like my sister’s. Not a day out riding goes by that I don’t think about that day and those lessons and all the fun we had blasting around Fort Lauderdale on her old bike. I wonder whatever happened to that bike. Thank you sis, you didn’t know it then, but you set me on a trajectory that would shape the person I am today in so many ways that afternoon and of course, many other afternoons over the course of my life.
Until next time, cheers to all the strong ladies out their inspiring others, just like my big sister!