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
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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