FIRST  TO  LAST  - THE  TALE OF A BIKER
by  Dennis  W.  Lid
chapter  I
          "
THE END"

“For  where  thy  treasure  is, there  also  will  thy  heart be.” (Matt VI. 21.)

     We  spend  our  lives  searching  for  answers.   There are  many questions  to be  addressed in life, but the most important  one that must  be answered by each of us 
 is, “Where does  my treasure lie?”  The answer to  this  question  is  of   the  utmost importance, since it results in the culmination of our search  for   the  Holy  Grail. Do
you know where your treasure is?
    This is  the tale of a biker . . .  a  soldier  . . .  a   man   whose  life’s  adventures  are
intertwined with  the motorcycles he  has owned and  the experiences  he has  had.
This saga will  take you on  a journey through  the highlights, episodes and travails
of that near - lifetime  sojourn  and  the  interesting  events that  occurred  along the
way. Perhaps when we have finished with this trek, you will  be able  to answer  the
key question in your own life  – “Where  is  your treasure?” I think I  know, at  long
last, where mine is.
    And so the  journey  begins – at   the  end.  It happens to all of  us sooner or later.
Your time  will  come  as well.  It’s the  dreadful  event  or occasion  that  ends your 
riding  days. For some, it’s an accident or injury; for others an  illness, and  for still
others it’s old age or just plain,  loss  of  capability or  interest  that   brings  on  the 
occasion. Whatever the reason, it happens, and your riding days are over.  It’s time
to  “hang  up  the  spurs.”  For a true  rider,  a real  biker, an aficionado of  the  two-
wheeled conveyance called the  motorcycle, that  happening would seem to be an
absolute  tragedy  . . .  like  the end  of the world – except  for  the memories, that is.
We have  spent  so much  time  collecting  those  memories  throughout  our  lives, 
and  carefully  storing them in  our  brain-cell  databanks,  that  we are not about to 
forget them.  The memories sustain us after the actions and adventures  have  past.
We recall  them at will to lift our  spirits and  help  us carry on with  life, or existence,
 as the case may be. Consider a fellow like Evel  Knievel, who has reached the point
of no return.  He  has  been  a  daredevil to the extreme all  of  his  life, and success-
fully   so.  Yet,   multiple   injuries,   age,   loss    of    flexibility   and   estimations   of 
consequences have caused him  to  finally  lose  the  edge.  Now
he tutors his  son
in  the  art  and technique  of  extreme  daredevil  riding and  exhibitionism. His son
has  become  his alter ego. The master  dreams  his dreams  and  relinquishes  the
reins of control to the younger generation out of necessity. His time has come. His
memories,   indeed, are  sufficient  to  endure what   lies ahead on the remainder of 
his life’s journey. Yet, I wonder  where his treasure  is now.
    My time  came in Japan about 12 years ago at the age of fifty-six.  It was a  fateful
day  in the fall of  1993 for yours truly, and   all  five-feet-eight  inches of  my brown-
haired,  blue-eyed,  athletic,  wiry  and,  otherwise,  nondescript   self.   I  remember
standing  on  the sidewalk   in front  of the house watching a friend by the name of
Jack  Owen  drive  off  on  my  last  bike . . . as its new owner.  Jack and  I had been
riding    companions   for   many   years  in   the  Camp   Zama   Motorcycle  Club of
Sagamihara,  Japan.   It was a U.S. Army,  Japan  (USARJ)  sponsored club located 
South  of  Tokyo –  but  more about   that  later.  I  was surprised  that  Jack bought
my  1987 Kawasaki Ninja 750 R,  since he already owned a Yamaha 1150cc Virago. Perhaps he wanted  to  try a  sport  bike with  the front - leaning driving position for
a change, or maybe he  just liked  the looks  and performance  of  it. One  year later,
however,  he  sold  the  Ninja  and  kept  his  Virago.  I guess he didn’t like the front-
leaning-rest  position  after   all. It  takes  some  getting used to as compared  to the
upright  sitting  position  of  the  Yamaha.  The difference  in posture equates to the 
difference  between  a  sport bike and  a  cruiser.  I  never  asked  him  why  he  sold
it,  and  he  never  divulged   his   rationale.  We parted  company  that  day and  had
infrequent  contact   with  one  another   for  the  next  few years.  The  bike was  the 
common    denominator,  you  see,  and  when   that   link  was  severed,  there  was 
little  basis for continuing  our relationship.  Work and  other  interests  caused  our 
paths  to   diverge  and  diluted  our friendship.   I eventually   transferred  to  a new
job  and  location  back in the  States  and  totally  lost  contact  with  my  friend  for
several
years.
    As Jack drove  the sleek,  black, Kawasaki Ninja  away from me and into the sun-
set that fateful  day, he took  a piece of my heart  as well.  He drove up the sidewalk
and onto  the road.  I watched  until he was out  of sight, shading  my eyes with  my
hand as  bike and rider  were silhouetted against the setting sun. Even after I could
no  longer hear the   turbo-like  drone, the  heartbeat of  the  vertical four, I stood  in
place for  a long time  holding the  check from  the sale of my geisha, as I  was fond 
of  calling  her.  Now  she  was  gone;  there would be no replacement.  The  impact 
of  that   fact began  to sink   into   my consciousness, as  I stood  there  motionless. 
My   eyes   looked  without   seeing  anything,  like  the  “thousand-yard stare”  of  a
warrior   after the  battle  subsides.  It  dawned  on  me  that  the  time  had  come  to
“hang up  my  spurs” and  end  my riding days. It would take awhile for me to really
grasp  the  significance   of  that  realization.   After  sharing  the  better  part   of  my 
lifetime  with  the  iron  horse, what  would  I do without  one? The weekends would
seem  to  be  a  bit  listless  and empty; the camaraderie of riding companions  non-
existent. Good-by to   new   motorcycle    adventures, the  adrenaline  rush and  the
accumulation  of  fresh memories of  the good times.  Why, then, must I stop  riding
now?  The  reasons  that  contributed  to  that  conclusion  will   eventually  surface
during  this  journey  of  a  biker’s  tale. Part  of it  has to  do with  the  challenge, the
search, the quest  that I mentioned earlier, but  there’s more to it than that. All that’s
left now, and since that fateful day, is the memory of the motorcycles I once owned
 and the great times I had on all  of them  . . .  from First to Last. Yet, the quest for the
 Holy Grail  continues.  Perhaps  it’s  a  relentless  search  until  the  very  end – until
 one draws one’s last breath.

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