The Call: The Journey of a New Harley Rider

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June 1, 2011 | By: Tim Barcz

Editor’s Note: Tim Barcz is J&P Cycles’ senior ecommerce manager, and while he’s been doing a bang-up job for us in this capacity since April of 2008, he’s never taken riding and getting his license as seriously as his work on our award-winning website. As you’ll read below, events have changed all that, and Tim will be blogging from time to time on the trials and travails of switching from being a sidecar rider to his anticipated evolution as a seasoned Harley rider.

The Journey of a New Harley Rider, Part I

By Tim Barcz

You know the call is going to come. You just don’t know when. Days and weeks can pass where you don’t even give it a thought, and when you do stop to think about it, the event plays out at a later date. Certainly not today.

I got the call at 7:30 in the morning on May 5. I had just left the house on my way to work at J&P Cycles. My father was on the other end of the line telling me that Grandpa had a massive stroke and wasn’t expected to live another 12 hours. My wife and I headed off to Milwaukee to be with him, racing against time for one last chance to say goodbye. Later that day, life support was removed and quietly, without visible change, my grandfather passed from life to death with his family by his side.

Some of my earliest memories of my grandfather are sitting on the back of his motorcycle, holding tightly to his belt loops as we barreled down the highway. There was a sense of danger as I looked down to see the pavement passing by so very quickly.  Those early memories always carried great value to me, and do so more now than ever now that his passing has slammed the door tight on acquiring any new memories.

As it happens when someone dies, the family talks about their possessions and where they should go. You do your best to interpret what the deceased would do if they were here, making the decision themselves. Because of my work at J&P, several family members suggested that I would be the best candidate to acquire Grandpa’s 2001 Heritage Softail Classic. And while J&P Cycles has a lot of knowledgeable riders on staff, I certainly don’t count myself among them. I had a plan in mind to get my two-wheeler license sometime this year, and now events have pushed that timeframe forward.

As I study up to get my license, get some real riding experience under my belt, and ultimately ride the bike that was left to me, I’m thinking it would be interesting to share my learning experiences here on the J&P Cycles blog, in a series I’m calling “The Journey of a New Harley Rider.” My goals are three-fold for this series: First, I want to share my experiences with those who may follow behind me. At the same time, I’ll be seeking the advice and expertise of those who have gone before me. And, most important, I want to count myself as a safe and knowledgeable rider.  Having been involved with J&P Cycles, the Harley community and the motorcycle community at large, I’ve always been impressed by the sense of camaraderie that exists. My hope is that as I write about my experiences, thoughts and concerns, you all will participate by sharing the knowledge and advice of your miles of experience with all of us.

Comments: 9 Comments | Categorized Under: J&P Team Members, New Motorcycle Riders

Comments (9)

At 64 I just bought my first street bike from a good friend with a bad knee. 2006 Harley Fat Boy fairly well kept with bags and such. Came with 23888 and all records and repair manual. The manual a must for us mechanics. The weight of the bike has taken a lot of getting use to for I was a dirt rider in my early life. The crash bar I added has came in handy on a few stupid drops.
Ok enough plan on riding till 80 or so and going out with a bang. See ya there one day not soon!

I live on the KY-TN border by the way.

I got my first Harley, a 2004 Heritage in July of 2009, it’s diamond ice (silver) and had 18k. I LOVE IT!! In March of 10,put some Vance n Hines longshots on, SOUNDS AWESOME!! thing is the previous owner had it for 5 yrs and only put 18K on it. Since I’ve had it, taken on the Dragon 3-4 times, Myrtle Beach, Michigan and other days rides totaling 180-290 miles.
At last look, I’m a couple hundred short of 35k, which will come in no time, thats 17k in 2 yrs! May not be as many as some,but I have enjoyed every mile and hope to have many more. The ride,sound and feel of a Harley is better than anything on the road, hope you enjoy every mile as I have!!

My condolences for your loss. You are NEVER to old to enter the wonderful world of Harley. You will never be the same, as I am sure that a great many of your friends and co-workers have told you. Having been bitten by the bug some 48 years ago, I am hopelessly infected. You already have some top notch advise. Absolutely begin with MSF and simply accept the FACT that every organism out there IS trying to KILL you, much like a video game. Be 110% aware of all that is in your line of vision, and you will go far, painlessly. Maybe not all of the best advise, but I have been down once in 48 years, thanks to a left turner. Stay on your bike and life will be almost perfect. Condolences anf congrats.

My prayers go out to you and your family for he loss of a good man and Grampa. All I can tell you is take it slow at first, and take the safety course I had not rode for years and I took the course after getting a new bike and it has saved my life and skin. The bike you have is priceless and I will be looking forward to reading your adventures.

Very sorry for the great loss. I am younger to you so I would be taking the steps after you. I am still to take the two wheels just planning for it but hope you would go so long as your Grandfather was! Thanks for sharing your personal experiences with us and Keep sharing! It is very risky to put yourself for someone in this field and you have decided to do it, it is just invaluable. God Bless YOU.

Tim — sorry for your loss. Grandpa certainly left you a fine machine and I’m sure he’d be proud to know you have it and will be treating like the baby he did. I myself just bought a Heritage Softail Classic after a 20-year break in riding. So far, so good although a bit clumsy at first. Like others may have told you, take the MSF ASAP and stick to the back roads in the beginning. I just completed the course and am still on the quiet streets. But most importantly, HAVE FUN. Grandpa did. Good luck and be safe.

Good to hear you are FINALLY taking the steps to get on TWO Wheels! Looking forward to seeing how this all works out for you…Hopefully the people teachin ya know what they are doing…ya gotta watch… there are some real nut-balls out there!

I was 50 when I got my first Harley, it was a 2006 Sportster 883 Custom with 3,400 miles. Since it has been pumped up to 1200. I remember as a youngster seeing Sportster and how cool they looked back then, really looking fast and Sporty. I didn’t want one of those bikes with saddle bags and windshields, back then I thought those were for Sissy. Some how I remember getting a pamphlet of the Sportster from a local dealer. So any how through the years my desire, dreams of owning a Sporty someday stayed strong. Every time I bought a new bike I would tell myself the next one is going to be a Sportster. It was a Sunday, I had picked up a Motorcycle Trader, thumbing through it I saw her for sale at San Diego Harley. I called and found out it was still there and I was on my way. I walked in and as I scanned the showroom there she was, that “Fire engine red pearl”. She had everything I wanted, forward controls, sissy bar so the wife could ride. A short time later I was heading down the road for my first ride on a Harley Davidson, my “dream” had finally come true! It was pure heaven as I hit that throttle entering the freeway hitting 80 and not even feeling it. She was fast and smooth, shinny red and I was finally complete. At the moment in time it was beyond anything I could say here, no words. Just the wind, feeling that motor, and that smooooth ride, I had arrived.

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