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 Sharing of Lessons Learned
 My First Motorcycle Experience
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155 Posts

Windsor, PA


V Star 1300

Posted - 07/25/2015 :  4:56 AM                       Like

Back in 1968 during the Vietnam War, I was in the US Air Force and was assigned to a year of duty in Thailand. I had just made E-5 as an Electronic Warfare Technician. I left my pregnant wife behind in New Jersey with her mother and started my journey to my new assignment half way around the world. I hopped on a very slow train down the east coast from New Jersey to Keesler AFB, Mississippi. There, I spent two weeks for additional tech school training before going on to my new assignment. After the two weeks, I flew to California and boarded a MAC Contract flight for Thailand.

After what seemed like an eternity, I arrived at Udorn AB in Thailand. When I arrived I was overwhelmed by the heat, humidity, and the smell, which was terrible. It was also abundant with mosquitoes, snakes and frogs. Mosquitoes and snakes bite and the frogs croaked constantly. I was in a totally new world.

As I settled in over the next few weeks, I noticed that many of the GIs had two wheeled transportation, either bicycles or motorcycles. They didn't have to stand in the heat at the bus stops waiting on transportation to work or elsewhere. Most of the motorcycles were in the 90 cc to 125 cc category, all products of Japan. I was very envious of these guys as they would recount their trips out into the countryside and the jungle on their days off. I hitched a ride whenever possible with my new-found friends and went on several outings as a GIB (Guy In the Back) which was great fun but, I wanted to do the driving.

The day came when I had saved enough to buy a used bike. I decided to buy a Honda 90 to get the mobility that I sorely missed. I went downtown Udorn to the local motorcycle shop and inquired about a bike. A couple very knowledgeable friends went along to help with the selection. I can't remember the year of the bike but, we found what we thought was a great used Honda 90. It was gray and maroon colored and seemed to be in good condition.

I had ridden one or two of the bikes that other GIs owned but, I just puttered around the squadron in between the barracks, so I was pretty naive about bikes. That didn't bother me though because as a young guy full of P&V, I could do anything. When I pulled out of the dealership into the street on the first ride, I cranked the throttle and popped the clutch to show off for my friends. As little as she was, the Honda 90 reared up and dropped me in the street. Hurt pride, hurt body parts (first Honda Rash) and skinned up bike.

As time rolled on I realized that I wasn't meant to have a bike at that stage of my life. When we would go out on the main road and I would get the bike up to about forty MPH she would try to shake herself apart. In fact, it shook so hard that it shook the points loose and she quit running. We had to load her on a Baht Bus to get her back to the base.

A friend who was knowledgeable (same one that helped pick out the bike) delved into the problem. It turned out that someone had broken the crankshaft and it had been welded and it was not straight. When I approached the Thai seller he said, "sorry about that" and I had a lemon on my hands. I decided to sell her for parts. That was 1968 and until five years ago I didn't ride again.

Now, 40 some years later, I am more mature and don't have to, or want to show off for anyone. I want to ride tomorrow.
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