When we were in Asia in 2005, we spent a week helping with re-building in Thailand after the tsunami that had hit the previous year. While there, I rented one of the small motorbikes that are so common in Asia, so Nicole and I could get around a little. It was fun.
When we got home to Canada, I determined that being able to ride a motorbike might one day be a useful skill. Although they’re hobby vehicles here, in some parts of Asia a little motorbike might be the primary family vehicle. So I looked around and found a ’78 Honda, fire engine read… I think it was 350cc. It was a wonderful little bike to learn to ride on, and my brother and I both set out to get our permanent motorcycle license.
As part of the graduated licensing program in Ontario, its to your advantage to do your testing through a motorcycle safety program. We both signed up at a local college, and both led our class with perfect scores on all the testing. This gave me an M2 license, which lasts 5 years and grants most of the priviledges of a full M license.
That was 5 years ago this October. Last week I got a letter in the mail saying that I had until October to finish my M license, or lose what I have now and start again as a beginner. I had sold my bike to my brother when we moved to New York, and he had promptly sold it and moved to Calgary. I basically haven’t even sat on one since.
Although it wasn’t overly expensive to go through this process — maybe $3500 spent on the original bike, gear, repairs, parts, and the classes — it seems a shame now to throw it away. Especially given how close I am to having my full and permanent M license. I really only need to take one road test, and I’ll be done.
I’d like to say I thought it through prayerfully and carefully, but I really did the whole thing over the course of the 3 days I had between business trips. I did pray about it, and invited God to steer me away from the idea if it was a bad one. The opposite happened, and everything seemed to line up perfectly for me to buy a 1983 500cc Honda Shadow, in immaculate condition, delivered to my house, in the space of about 24 hours. $2500 even, plus $100 for a helmet.
I have the summer, then, to get it on the road (still need certification and insurance), get comfortable riding again, and prepare for my road test. After that, I’m perfectly happy to sell it, for close to what I paid, and forget riding for the foreseeable future — if that’s what God wants me to do. For $2500 I’m equally happy to keep an awful cool, wonderfully noisy toy in my garage… but given that we have two toddlers, that does feel a bit like keeping a gun in the house.
On my street, everyone has a hobby vehicle in the garage — some more than one. Its like the mark of settling down. You buy the house for the family, and constrain your male tendancy for toys that make noise to the old Camero, dirt bike, or 4-wheeler in the garage. We pretty much live in the country, so toys with wheels are commonplace.
I didn’t buy a bike to settle down. This isn’t a mid-life crisis, or an impotent rebellion against a society that continually discourages healthy male energy (from the day our boys enter kindergarten, until they’re fully castrated in a cubicle somewhere) …although I might blog impotently about that some day. I bought a bike because even though the season of life that we are in right now dictates that its a good idea to have a steady, stable home base in a country where we can count on at least some basic resources being available to us, we have not settled here.
It is our intention to be equipped to go anywhere God sends us, and to learn whatever we can now so we can be effective where ever He happens to put us later. Its why we both set out to learn to drive standard, and its why I was convinced 5 years ago that being able to handle a motorbike would be a good skill to have. And though I don’t have quite the unwavering certainty now that we have kids that I did when there was just the two of us, I feel like this is an investment I need to see through.
If you’d like, you can pray that I don’t get hit by a car during that process 😉