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Spare Parts: Bittersweet reunion

By Ernie Copper

This is the story of a first bike that gave life all she had. She was more than one man’s first, but the last of those was a 16-year-old who worked nights and weekends as a prep cook at a small town diner. The bike was his only transportation and he rode her hard. Well, as hard as a Honda CL100 could be ridden by a 16-year-old, rev-happy cook. Redlined between each shift, the little CL did her best to carry the load from stoplight to stoplight and town to town. She spent many of the wee hours waiting in the alley behind the diner, just for the chance to carry him home posthaste.

Then one day, quite predictably, it happened. The little CL was diggin’ out the instant her traffic light turned green. She was at the busiest intersection in town when a sedan trying to beat the light entered her path from the blind side. The CL center punched the car, doing her best to respond to her owner’s commands, which in this case were interpreted as asking her to drive through the car. She was only moderately successful, just denting the car before running out of steam. But our rev-happy cook, also predictably, continued the trek alone, going ass-over tin cups through the air and coming to rest in the street on the other side of the car, miraculously, landing without serious injury. The CL was not as lucky. She lay bent and twisted on her side and was ultimately totaled by the insurance company.

Not being a fan of damaged goods at the time, Rev-Happy Cook sold the bike to the local fix-it guy, Joe, who had everything from boats to classic cars in queue waiting to be restored at his farm. Joe’s judicious use of a Porta Power to straighten the forks made her ride well enough to putt around his farm. Eventually Joe lost interest and locked up the old bike in a semitrailer where it stayed for more than 20 years.

During that 20 years, Rev-Happy Cook, who rode her to her demise, grew up, got married, moved away and had two great kids. He never lost interest in bikes, though, accumulating a vintage bike here and a vintage bike there. After swinging at several curveballs from life, Rev-Happy Cook moved back to his hometown and, following his father’s death, had a renewed interest in the old CL100 he’d left behind all those years ago. A phone call to Joe confirmed that the bike was still at the farm, safely tucked away in the trailer and, if he wanted it, it was his. It should be noted that this generosity was uncharacteristic for Joe, who prided himself on his horse-trading skills.

And so after the requisite paperwork got squared away, since she’d never been retitled after all those years and was still in Rev-Happy Cook’s deceased father’s name, she came home. Reunited. After some tinkering she even ran, though she leaked oil like a BP deep-water drilling rig. After more tinkering, the old girl joined her place in line with the other eight or 10 vintage bikes her owner had collected over time. She was unrestored, but not hopelessly locked in a trailer on a farm.

Her owner, our Rev-Happy Cook, had a few mechanical troubles of his own along the way. Both knees were replaced and complications left him on the injured reserve list for a few seasons, but all is well now. All is well except, for some unknown reason, he recently decided to sell the old CL, his first bike, due to lack of interest in restoring her.

His kids are grown. He has no dogs, cats or grandkids. He’s got a couple of bucks and a Garage Majal to work in. He’s only 53 and has a long way to go. The only conclusion I can make is that it’s the effect of this “low testosterone” you hear so much about these days. The odds of catching up with your first bike ever again are astronomically stacked against you and he is squandering the chance of a lifetime for a couple-hundred bucks. It’s not like it’s a Vincent and he’s sitting on thousands of unused dollars. Even if he never touches it again, I think the bike is where it belongs. He has plenty of time to change his mind (or get treatment) and he has next to nothing invested in it. The old CL deserves the chance.

As always, your thoughts on the subject are welcome. I’ll be sure to pass them on to Rev-Happy Cook.



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