Duke here. I’m the financial programmer who left my safe, risk averse, nesting grounds of Cincinnati, Ohio, for a destination about as far away from that as possible. One of many pro-risk decisions was learning to drive a motor scooter. That was 1.5 years ago. Out here in Southeast Asia, the citizens are practically born with a scooter attached to their butts and the notion of “walking” somewhere is only for romantic evenings or a strange activity foreigners engage in. Cars are still a sign of the upper class here, so, scooters are how the masses get around.
After driving the scooter for 18 months, frankly, it gets a bit boring, and I found myself yearning for more. Whenever I’d see a motorcycle cruise by I’d find myself daydreaming. I’m not much for daydreaming, so I went and got a used Honda Phantom (no I didn’t know how to drive a manual motorcycle, and its maiden voyage back to the apartment was a 20 minute trip in 1st gear; live and learn). It’s a bit of a clunker, but, that’s what I want in my first bike: old, cheap, reliable. No fancy bells and whistles that I might cry about if I toss it down on the road a couple times.
We’ve been thinking about nicknaming her Bertha.
Some guys like crotch rockets or dirt bikes, but for me these “cruiser” bikes are the only thing I can imagine. They’re sort of like what my older brothers had in pictures I saw of them, or what “The Fonze” might have ridden around. It took me a while to figure out the whole manual thing. Turns out, not so hard. A few embarrassing stalls in the middle of traffic, but here in Chiang Mai, drivers are very forgiving when they’re not texting or taking “selfies” (when someone takes pictures of themselves with a cell phone). I had no idea what I was missing. Even when we took an 1.5 hour ride in pouring down rain and I was sucking rainwater down and soaked to the bone, it somehow felt pretty fun compared to a boring, dry, safe, car ride.
So, a month into it, I prefer riding a substantial vehicle over the light weight scooter. What I lost in maneuverability I gained in durability, power, and style. Anything that makes me drive a bit slower and safer is a good thing. Predictably, I’m already looking forward to my next bike with some of those bells and whistles; like a gas gauge, a gear indicator, and a smoother gear shifting experience.