Our neighbor, Steve Danberry bought himself a motorcycle in 1981. I watched him wash and wax it religiously after rides and he spent a lot of time on and off the motorcycle. I found myself looking in the mirror on morning remarking that I wasn't getting any younger. I always enjoyed motorcycling and the sale of our first, a Benelli 50 cc "motorcycle" left a void. After talking it over with Mary I selected a motorcycle to buy based on a TV commercial, The chosen bike was a Yamaha Virago. I fell in love with its swirl-design cast metal wheels.
We went to a dealer named Riff's in Langhorne, Pa and saw the 750 Virago in person. It looked HUGE and intimidating to me, so a smaller model was selected: the 550 Maxim. It had an inline four-cylinder engine and it had the same wheels as the Virago. Sitting on it I felt comfortable, so a deal was struck: $3000 out the door with a Shoei full-faced helmet.
After picking it up at the dealer, which was located at the intersection of Route 95 and 1, an extremely busy road even then, I was faced with making a left turn on a four-lane road to go home. Mary had already left in the car. I didn’t think I had sufficient experience to venture across three lanes of traffic, so I chose to make a right-hand turn instead. Motoring along my self-confidence soared with each mile under my belt.
Next thing I knew I was miles from home with not a hint of wanting to go home and a few miles later I pulled into the driveway of Bob and Jane Schreiber, a friend and a colleague at the time. I showed off my new toy and as usual, they shared in my happiness and made me realize that Mary must be worried by now. I headed for home, my self-confidence now spilling over the brim. I was an experienced motorcyclist!
I came back down to earth the next day when my brother-in-law, Ty, my brother-in-law, asked me if I wanted to accompany him and some of his friends for a little ride to get a couple of their bikes inspected. It was early on during this ride that I failed to completely negotiate an s-curve and went off the road, barely avoiding being impaled by a bent-over sign-post. Ty saw the whole incident happening and was wondering how he was going to tell his sister how her husband died when, miraculously, I managed to avoid the obstacle and drove back onto the pavement. By the time I remembered that I should be scared, it was over and I tried to act as though nothing had happened.
I put 24,000 miles on that bike in a year and a half. Over time I picked up some accessories for the bike, some nice, some even cheaper and not-so-nice looking. The white Shoei handlebar fairing served its purpose but like the matching saddlebags, were quite ugly.
Both the coldest and second coldest time spent on a motorcycle were on this bike. The second coldest was the Lake Piseco to Lake Placid trip, when coming home in the dark we both froze our behinds off. The second was the trip to visit my cousin George in Bowie, Maryland in December. The trip was made on a dare from Mary and as soon as the sun went down we were starting to get very cold. It was the very first time I put my own comfort ahead of Mary's and didn't give her a down vest I was wearing. We stopped at every rest stop on Route 95 on the way home just to warm up a little. My feet were the first to get really cold and then it was all over. I couldn't get warm until we got home and I was in the bathtub.
Some time later I found a dealer to install a factory fairing from the Virago on the Maxim. It was color-matched and good looking. It had a storage door in each side and the capacity was enormous. Riding behind the fairing was eerily quiet, and all the noises eminating from the engine could be heard clearly.
One day Steve and I were on Route 220 in Pennsylvania, close to the New York border, saw a Honda motorcycle dealer and stopped to kick some tires. Among the used bikes there sat a brown BMW R65 with a brown seat. For some reason it really got my attention and the search for my next bike started on that day. It ended a few weeks later when I saw a left-over 1982 BMW R100RT in smoke-red on the showroom floor of Sellersville BMW in New Jersey. I traded the Maxim for the BMW (I think he gave me $1,800) and a long-term relationship resulted.