RoadRUNNER Zen Motorcyclist

MotoBloopers: It’s a Bird, it’s a Plane, No, it’s a … MotoHero?

May 15, 2019 View Comments by

MotoBlooper - Dragging a tarp behind your motorcycle while riding.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned in prior posts that my first bike was a 1981 Yamaha Maxim. The Maxim was impressive in its day, with narrow cruiser styling draped over a Japanese 4-cylinder. Mine was flat black with gold lettering and a missing air box, my brother found it for me for $400 back in ’98.

I loved that bike more for what it represented than for what it was, although I loved that too. It was a link to my brother, a remembrance of my father, and, to me, it was beautiful. I loved it in the purest sense like when you don’t see flaws, or if you do you admire them and see them as representing how far a thing has come, something that adds rather than takes away; which makes that thing all the more special to you.

I was naive when I started riding; I had no idea about helmets, jacket sizing, gloves, or boots. I think I wore work boots, a solid white helmet, yard gloves (if any), and an over-sized leather jacket that I’m sure I paid way too much for. I didn’t care though; I was learning to ride and loving every minute of it. Every day was a new lesson, some scary, like suddenly finding out I needed to flip the fuel reserve switch in traffic because I failed to set the trip odometer to remind me to fill up. Other lessons were of the embarrassing sort.

I stored my Maxim under an old blue tarp in the driveway and one fall day on the spur of the moment, after finishing some yard work, I tossed the tarp aside and took off for a ride. Along the way I started noticing people paying me a lot of attention. I passed a father and son out raking leaves who stopped and stared as I rode by; I saw young ladies staring out the back window of a car at me waving. Now, as a left-handed math and computer science nerd with seasonal allergies, attention wasn’t something I was used to. I started thinking “huh, is it possible I’m cool?” and “check me out, turning heads on my black steel beauty” and getting otherwise fairly full of myself.

It was a short ride through the countryside around my town, maybe an hour or so, and arriving home I never felt better. My growling Maxim was running like a top, I was beaming with pride and self-confidence, and as I dismounted I thought life had taken an interesting turn and things were going to be different.

It was then that I noticed the source of all my new found attention: the eight-foot long blue tarp that I’d been dragging behind me for the last hour. I must have looked like some novice and inept super hero trying to go fast enough to fly in my bulbous pure white helmet and over-sized jacket dragging a tattered blue tarp for a cape on the ground behind me. Yup, I was too cool for school alright.

I have many, many memories of my Maxim, some a bit frightening, some funny, some intensely personal, and some just scratch your head embarrassing like this one. I look back on those fumbling first rides with great fondness and I’m sure everyone has stories of their first bikes similar to mine. Care to share? Don’t worry, it’ll just be between you and me…




Ready to Ride?

RoadRUNNER Rides navigation appGet out and discover the world on two-wheels! Download the RoadRUNNER Rides App and get access to 500+ TOURS with full GPS navigation including turn-by-turn directions and voice guidance. You can also create your own custom routes with the easy-to-use in-app route planner.


Available on the App Store and Google Play.

Tags: , , , , , , , Categories: Zen Motorcyclist

About the author

I have been motorcycle commuting since 1998. I created Zen Motorcyclist (formerly Commuting Motorcyclist) in 2011 and work as a motojournalist, software developer, CAD designer and IT/CAD manager in the Surveying and Civil Engineering field.