I've been neglecting the blog but I've still been busy riding, wrenching, and taking tons of photos this year. I couldn't let October go by without acknowledging a very significant milestone. I bought my first motorcycle almost exactly 10 years ago today and, yes, it is the same exact same bike that has the black and red lace rattlecan paintjob that I still ride today.
I took this photo yesterday while riding through Wisconsin. Yes, I swear it's the same bike. I've just changed a few things and put a lot more miles on it.
I thought it might be fun to take a look back and post some photos from the last 10 years, one year at a time. While you may have seen some, I'll try to post a bunch you haven't seen before. Some will be a little embarrassing, but that's half the fun of old photos.
This is my 2004 XL1200C when it was brand new to me in October 2006.
I considered starting with a smaller bike but am so glad I didn't as I never grew out of it. I found the bike on the website Car Soup. It was at a car dealer and it was apparently used as a trade-in. It was pretty much stock with 8,000 miles on it. The trick was that the dealer was down in Burnsville and I live 30 minutes north. My only experience riding motorcycles was at the weekend MSF course and I never made it past 2nd gear on the 250cc loaner bike in the community college parking lot. I will never forget how nervous I was just trying to start the thing at the dealer and not look like a total dumbass. The ride home was insane. I had to work my way up to 5th gear and the wind felt ridiculously strong, I felt like I was going to get blown off the back of the bike.
Right away, I made my first modification. I can laugh about this now, but I added this Willie G skull to the sissy bar. I thought it was pretty cool at the time. Obviously, I was born to customize motorcycles.
As Christmas approached, my wife and I immersed ourselves in all things Harley-Davidson including getting photos with Santa at not one but two dealerships. I look so young without a beard.
With only a little bit of fall riding under my belt, I spent the winter making modifications to the bike to make it more comfortable 2-up and easily convertible for solo riding. I added a cushy 2-piece Mustang seat and a removable windshield. I swapped the sissybar for a removable one with a luggage rack. For looks, I removed the tank trim and gas cap and added a Mustang tank bib and, of course, Willie G skull gas cap. I swapped the derby cover, I added trim rings to the headlight and turn signals, and got a curved laydown license plate holder.
In February, I started taking photos at motorcycle shows, which I continue to do to this day. This is the International Motorcycle Show (I don't think it was branded "Progressive" back then) where the Nightster debuted. Remember the Nightster? 'Member??
My wife and I were back out riding in late March and performance modifications were next. I ditched the stock muffler and air cleaner for a set of Python3 slip-ons and an Arlen Ness Big Sucker. The air cleaner swap and carb jetting would end up being the only modifications to this bike that I didn't do myself. My wife and I rode all over the place on the bike.
In June, we took our first multi-day motorcycle-only trip to the Minnesota HOG Rally in Duluth. Yes, I was briefly a HOG member. Again, I can laugh about this now. It was hot when we left Minneapolis but it was freezing up around Lake Superior. We had to buy extra layers and gloves. We had fun riding around the north shore and into Superior National Forest. We even took part in the giant HOG parade through town, which was very cheesy but kinda cool.
The culmination of my first year on two wheels was Sturgis 2007. I rode the Sportster and my wife followed in our CR-V but we rode around 2-up once we got there. We stayed in Rapid City and attended the back-half of the rally. Seeing the Black Hills on a motorcycle was amazing. Being surrounded by so many other bikes was incredible. Here are some photos from the trip. The craziest moment was definitely riding through the middle of a buffalo herd. It was stupid, but awesome.
I commemorated the trip with my first (and still only) tattoo at Buddha's on Main Street. I remember thinking that it might hurt at first but I assumed it would numb up as the endorphins kicked in. Nope, I was wrong. It hurt the whole damn time. After he was done, the artist told be to put A+E ointment on it. I had no idea what that was. My wife and I rode out of town to a Wal-Mart where an employee rolled his eyes and took me to the baby aisle. I am a little surprised I haven't gotten more tattoos over the last 10 years but I have no regrets about this one as it's deeply meaningful to me.
After it healed:
While we took 2 days to get out there, we came back in one. The 600-mile ride back in a single day remains the longest day trip I ever had on my Sportster and my ass and back hurt so bad by the time I got home. I could barely walk. I covered 2,000 miles on that trip alone.
I put about 8,000 miles on the bike in the first full year of ownership. It is still the most I have ridden in a single year. I had so many good times, both solo and with my wife on the back. We went out riding all the time - in the evening after work and on weekends. We always enjoyed road trips together and the bike gave us a brand new way to experience them.
Be sure to check back soon for more old photos and stories.