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.