Last week, I got a phone call from a good friend of mine; Michael Jackson. The Michael Jackson, not the pedophile, mind you.
Side note: It amazes me that our cancel culture is very quick to de-platform somebody who says “Women don’t have a penis” but yet we still hear Thriller playing on the radio…despite that MJ proven to be a child-molesting pervert, beyond a shadow of a reasonable doubt…
I digress. We live in a mad, mad, mad world…let’s get back to that phone call.
Around lunchtime, I got a phone call from Michael, and he asked me:
”What are you doing? Wanna go look at some bikes?”
I looked at my calendar and noticed I had less than 70 minutes until my next client call, as well as a growling stomach.
”How far is it?”
”15 minutes from where you live.”
“I’ll be there.” I said, as I rushed to the kitchen to cram in some snacks, knowing my plans for lunch wouldn’t fit before my call. Some things are worth skipping lunch for.
Mike didn’t just invite me to look at some bikes, he invited me an auction warehouse where every week, thousands of bikes are auctioned off. I didn’t know what to expect before I got there, but the moment I walked in the door, I was hit between the eyes with one of the most beautiful sights I’ve seen in my life.
Motorcycles. Motorcycles as far as the eye could see. Thousands of them.
It took me a few minutes to walk from one end of the warehouse to the other, that’s how large it was, and it was lined with the most beautiful motorcycles I’ve ever seen in my life.
When I lived in Mexico, I was able to scratch an itch I’ve had in me since I was a little boy; I wanted to own a motorcycle. A loud motorcycle. A badass motorcycle.
Snakebite, as I called my beloved Suzuki, was just that bike – at least, just that bike for the type of rider I was. You never want to get more of a bike than you can handle as a new rider, and I quickly learned what it meant when people said that.
Nobody taught me how to ride a motorcycle. I didn’t have any motorcycle riding experience, either – aside from riding a 150cc scooter during the year I lived in Bali. Instead, I watched YouTube videos and figured out the basic mechanics of how to put Snakebite into gear, how to turn properly and various mistakes a new rider would make when riding a bike.
Those videos were great, but I will never forget the feeling I had when I straddled her for the first time and gave the throttle a twist, hearing the engine roar to life while it shook between my legs.
Better than sex? You better believe it.
I loved Snakebite. I truly loved that bike. Despite it only being an 805cc, the previous owner had installed the loudest pipes he could find, and it was easily the loudest motorcycle I heard during my time in Mexico. She got the name “Snakebite” because that was the first song I listened to when I took my first ride; Alice Cooper, Snakebite.
I rode the living hell out of that bike. However, I was always careful where I rode it, because the drivers in Mexico were even worse than they are here…one mistake could have easily cost me my life, and I took defensive driving to a whole new level when I rode that bike.
I won’t ever forget the last ride I had on Snakebite. It was a Sunday morning, and I woke up early to take my morning ride before the hot sun came out. Earlier in the week, I had taken her in to the shop where she had a full tune-up, oil change and washed until the chrome would blind your eyes.
There’s a certain ‘sweet spot’ every vehicle hits after this sort of tune-up, and after a bit of breaking in, she rode better than ever.
I remember how it felt to ride around Tulum while Alice Cooper and other rock gods screamed through the Bluetooth speakers as I pulled hard on the throttle to make the engine come to life. It was incredible.
As I finished my ride, I remember looking back at the bike – for the last time.
The next morning, I went outside and had a sinking feeling in my stomach. As I walked outside, I looked and realized that Snakebite was gone. Immediately, I knew two things; one, she was stolen. Two, I wasn’t getting her back, and I never did.
I was heartbroken that day. Snakebite was more than a motorcycle to me – she was the realization of a dream I had, ever since I was a child. She was my personal tribute to the way that I lived my life – which was oftentimes very different than what my parents wanted for me. “My Way” as Sinatra said…
My parents always tried to talk me out of wanting a motorcycle. They used to tell me that before they had kids, they nearly bought two of them, yet stopped shortly before signing the paperwork at the dealer. Years later, I came to find out they were planning on buying scooters….not the road hogs I envisioned.
There’s something about riding a motorcycle that you simply can’t explain to somebody who’s never been on the back of one. It’s adrenaline, a thrill unlike any other and it also scares the hell out of you every time you ride it.
When you get home after your ride, there’s some element of accomplishment that you feel; as if you saddled a bull and didn’t get thrown from its back.
MJ gave me my first ride on a motorcycle before I ever rode one myself. I remember asking him one night:
”Mike, this might sound kind of weird, but would you give me a ride on your motorcycle?“
Mike didn’t realize it that night, but he was stepping in to fill the boots that my Dad wasn’t there to fill. Not because my Dad didn’t want to – but because he isn’t alive to do so.
With a big grin on his face, he handed me a helmet and told me to get on the back of his Harley Davidson as he brought the magnificent engine to life. It roared like thunder, and I held on for dear life as he expertly handled the Harley.
The ride was over as quickly as it started, and I realized one thing – I had to get a bike. A few short years later, I was riding on Snakebite.
Last week, while we walked around the motorcycles, I stopped to notice that Mike got on the back of one of them and fired it up. Immediately, I knew that I wanted to do the same, so I hunted for the baddest looking bike I could find and fired it up.
In that moment, there was a part of me that felt cool because I knew how to turn the bike on, and that felt good. However, nothing felt as good as the feeling of its engine rumbling beneath me as I revved the engine.
In an instant, I felt like I was alive. I mean, really alive. And that’s when I realized something about life; most people go their entire lives without ever feeling alive. Alive, alive.
For me, I learned that riding a motorcycle is one of those things that makes me feel alive. Perhaps it’s because they aren’t ‘safe’ – at least, not as safe as a car. Yet, there’s something else I know about life; it’s short, and too short to be spent living a wasted one.