The story of my interest in motorcycles starts around 1998 when I was in the 7th or 8th grade and taking flying lessons at the local airport. One of my instructors, Steve Pickup, had a cherry Honda CB550 he’d brought over from England which was his only transportation. Steve, a motorcycle mechanic and London bus driver turned flight instructor and I became good friends. Not having any mechanic’s tools of his own here in America he asked to use mine. In return, I began to learn about motorcycles. At the time they didn’t make a big impression on me, perhaps because I was too busy flying and learning about airplanes. That would change.
Five years went by. Then, In 2003 I took a trip to London, England. This is really where my fascination with motorcycles begins. While in London I remember walking down the street one afternoon near Foyles Books on Charing Cross. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, I heard a strange new sound. It was nothing like the burdened, obnoxious popping of the Harley Davidson cruisers that populate the American Midwest, but a pure and perfect wail. It was like music and it came from a sleek black motorcycle which moved though traffic like everyone else on the road was driving backwards.
As I later learned, the bike I saw and heard was probably a grey market Honda CBR-250RR privately imported from Japan. Whatever it was, it sold my mind to the devil.
I thought to myself: “If that’s what it sounds like, it has to be even more amazing to ride!” My one and only obsession became learning how to ride. Once back home I got my motorcycle license. Much to my dismay, the CBR-250RR isn’t sold in America. Instead, I bought a Suzuki GS-500 and “made do.” Make do I did. The first year I owned it I wore out two sets of sport-touring tires, a difficult feat for a bike with only 48 HP. The only limitation on my riding was the price of gas.
It was on one of my many trips on the GS in late 2007 that I discovered the Glenn Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport, NY. It was within the walls of the Curtiss Museum that I discovered I wasn’t the only airplane nut with a motorcycle addiction.