It was back in the late seventies. A well-known radio announcer was going to be promoting motorcycle sales at Holtz Honda on Mt. Hope Ave in the city of Rochester, New York. I was driving home from the city to Avon, NY and heard the announcement on the car radio “1970 Honda 175 for $300.00 today only.” I knew what a motorcycle was. But, I never had an interest in one till I remembered that I was paying over $100.00 in gas for a month driving back and forth to work from Avon, NY to Pittsford, NY. I remember, looking at my wife and saying “Lets go see it.” Little did I know how that decision would change my life forever.
Once I arrived, I spotted the little bike. Being thinner, I felt right at home. “If only I knew how to drive this thing,” I thought to myself. I made a deposit and within a week picked up my first motorcycle. I put it in the back of my station wagon and headed home. Once home, I took all afternoon reading the manual and cleaning the bike. The next day I picked up a permit after passing the written test to ride the motorcycle. For several weeks I practiced in the trailer park where I lived. I also used private streets and local dirt trails, anywhere that I could learn to shift the bike properly. After six weeks I felt comfortable enough to set up a road test.
The day of the road test came. I prayed the night before for clear skies and warm temperatures. I awoke to thunderstorms and cool temperatures. I put on my rain gear, started the bike up and proceeded to Geneseo for the driving test. A friend of mine followed in his van. He had a motorcycle license. When I arrived the Sheriffs car was already there and another biker taking a test. The weather was now miserable. The rain had me soaked in no time. It seemed like a long time before it became my turn for the road test. In fact only fifteen minutes had elapsed. When it was my turn, I received instructions from a female sheriff who informed the other biker he just failed his road test. “Great!” I thought to myself, “I’m next.”
I was told to make a right turn down the third street from the starting point. I proceeded to the third street only to find it was a one way going the opposite direction. So, I passed it up and went to the next street and moved over to the curb for further instructions. She said nothing about the turn, but instructed me through the rest of the road test. Once the ordeal was over, the officer told me I could drive the bike home and the results would be sent to me in a week’s time. I chatted with the other biker, who had failed before me. I asked what he failed on and he replied “Making an illegal turn down a one-way street.” On the way back home I couldn’t be any prouder, I knew I passed. Otherwise the officer would not have let me ride the bike home.
I arrived soaked, but elated “I passed!” I said good-bye to my friend as he drove off. The next day proved to be perfect weather. I felt great until I asked my wife if she would like to go for a ride, she flatly refused. She didn’t trust me. But my 83-year-old mother was staying with us and said, “Lets go Joe!” She straddled over the bike, held on tight and off we went up and down the park roads. The look on the neighbors’ faces as we rode by and their cheers made my day. The trust of one so frail and little yet so loving to trust me on her first ride made me the king of the world on that day. I look back now and enjoy remembering the experience that started it all and the radio ad that changed my life and sparked my love for motorcycles.