I bought a motorcycle. It’s a purchase I’ve had in mind for several years, having wanted to both find a cheaper way to road trip around vast areas, as well as have a more open thrill while doing it. It’s also a decision I’ve repeatedly pushed off for a number of reasons; most of them being lack of permanence wherever I have been living. Four weekends ago I went to the bikers’ bazaar just east of the citadel in Erbil. The area is choked with the stench of gasoline and often deafening with the sound of simultaneous engine revs and constant backfires. Bikes are lined up by the dozens, new and old models alike being picked through by hopeful buyers. I walked in knowing I was going to buy.
I purchased a used Iranian 125cc model and have since wasted no time at all learning every little quirk of its riding personality. It has been too much fun learning what does (and just as often doesn’t) work as far as riding technique, and what exactly the capabilities are of a 125cc bike. I’ve never owned a bike and had all of five minutes experience when I made the purchase, but a 125cc model is a perfect learning tool. Not too much power to overwhelm but enough punch to travel far and stretch the engine up to 60 mph.
My bike has been particularly interesting as far as establishing a learning curve. I mentioned it was previously owned, which meant buying it was also buying into whatever unknowns and wild-card moments my bike possessed. There have been plenty. In less than a month of ownership, I’ve already weathered two flats, replaced both tires, bought new left and right handle bars, fixed a snapped throttle line, installed a new clutch, a new head light, and a brand new battery. Even then, I feel like anything happens on any given moment.
I purchased the bike as a project and it has been just that; immediately stretching what very, very little I knew about engines and motorcycles while giving me opportunities galore to learn with each new problem. I’ve already done a lot to fix up the bike, but I also learned quickly that my bike has a low ceiling of ability. Some body must have worked it for all it was worth before It became mine. Sometimes it purrs, but more often than not it growls and snarls.
Like I said, this is a purchase that has been tumbling around in the back of my mind for several years. It’s also a result of my almost warped need and desire for spatial independence . I learned several years ago that wherever I am, I need some mode of transportation to call my own. It was a personal epiphany that came about from living in Los Angeles. I do love that city, but all too often felt trapped in it. The city’s megalopolis size and molasses traffic made it difficult at best to escape.
I lived in Los Angeles for just over two years, and my second year was far happier than the first. I also happened to have a car the second year. It could not have been any more ill-suited to the sprawling traffic-congested city (a giant ten-seater Chevy van), and I used it rarely, but it improved my morale so much just to know that if I needed to get away and disappear for a day or two, I could.
That realization held a lot of personal importance for me, and was one that I forgot up until a month ago. I re-learned that I need the opportunity, whether I choose to ever act on it or not, to go wherever I want. Yes, here I do consistently act upon that opportunity, but it’s not as much the action of going anywhere that helps keep me happy, but rather the idea of it.
Just knowing that I can go anywhere I want whenever I want is enough to keep me happy.
I’m a very spatial person. Flat cities/places make me feel trapped because there’s no visible break in the horizon. In other words, flatness makes me oddly claustrophobic. Hills, mountains, oceans… breaks in the horizon fill me with excitement and possibility to see something new and go somewhere I haven’t. It’s why my favorite days in Sacramento were always when the snowcapped Sierra Nevada’s were most clearly visible and therefore the most inviting, and why having a quick and easy ride to call my own here makes me feel so free and able.
I’ve only owned this motorcycle for less than a month, I’m only beginning to explore the potential of owning one,and I’ll be the first to admit it’s a piece of junk, but it’s my piece of junk that goes anywhere whenever I want. It has helped me learn a little about bikes in the process, and unlock a passion that I’m sure I will continue for the rest of my life.