Early in 2008, while still underemployed, I got the idea that I should get a street bike. This is despite living in a state where for eight
months a year, the roads are either snowy, icy, or uncomfortably cold.
I was drawn to this bikeís plain style. I didnít want a crotch-rocket, or Harley copy. This felt like the bars were where they were supposed to
be. I wasn't reaching up, down, or forward. I could ride elbows-up, dirt bike style.
This model used the old CB750, inline, four-cylinder engines, sleeved down to a 650. That engine was put into a different chassis. It had a
six-speed transmission, a somewhat narrow powerband, and close gear ratios. It felt a bit like riding a 125 around town, with the constant shifting. It
didn't really handle all that great because the chassis and suspension was quite spindly compared to a modern bike. The forks were about
the same size as a KTM 50cc, and the shocks and swingarm proportionately sized.
At first, I used this bike quite a bit, primarily for short trips that were not in traffic. That
first year, I rode this down to the Millville National with Lee Arntz.
That was the only time that I arrived at that event on a motorcycle in over twenty trips. That was the highlight of this motorcycle. It was when I stopped
using it often that I ran into trouble. Even using non-oxygenated fuel, if it sat for any length of time, at least one of the four little floats
would start sticking.
I rode this bike a few times in 2010, but not enough, and the float issue just kept coming back. I finally got sick of that and stopped riding
it altogether in 2011. I tried selling it a few times, got close on a few occasions, but I kept running into people with unrealistic
expectations for a low-priced, used motorcycle.
While this was mostly sitting in the garage, Steph and I made the first halting steps towards relocating to warmer climes. We bought some
agricultural land in Oklahoma. We thought this was close enough to Minnesota that we would visit it at least once a year. We would then decide
if we wanted to build a house there for retirement.
When it came to other destinations, we would kind of nibble around the edges when visiting family in other states, but we never did anything else
concrete. I had accepted that we would stay in Minnesota for quite a while.
Time marched on, and we only got down to Oklahoma twice in four years. We had already decided that we didn't want to live there. I did my
research, and took my time getting it, so it was a nice property at a fair price. I knew it would at least hold its value, so in the meantime,
it was an investment.
To get a little escape from the cold, we would take our vacations in the winter, going somewhere warm. In early 2011, we chose Phoenix. I had never
been there before, but had a friend from high school, Pat Shields
, who I hadn't
seen since before he moved there, 25 years earlier.
I was thinking this was nothing more than a visit with a friend, and short escape from Winter, when towards the end of our stay, kind of out of
the blue, came Steph's five words that would change our lives. "I could see living here."
After double and triple confirming what she said, for the rest of 2011, being the compulsive planner that I am, I went to work. I did research
and monitoring of Arizona real estate and the programmer job market. At the same time, I started tying up loose ends on the Minnesota side. We still
had the land up north, the land in Oklahoma, and a rapidly depreciating condo.
The land sold with little effort. In both cases, a local farmer contacted me and we quickly agreed on terms. The condo was another story. All of my
sister and late father's possessions needed to be removed and processed. Although I tried to get by without doing it, until I completely repainted
and re-carpeted the condo, I wasnít even getting showings, let alone anything close to an offer. The condo was still in our possession as we
rang in 2012.
We went to Arizona early January, this time with more of a scouting mindset. We wanted to drive around and get an idea of the different cities,
and what they were like. One thing lead to another, and a few days in, it didn't seem like we were getting much accomplished. Steph said
something that was meant to be comforting, but it completely motivated me the other way. "We don't have to move here. We can just go here
every winter and visit."
I suddenly had this picture in my mind of how pathetic it would seem to go somewhere over and over, kind of dreaming about living there, but
then never actually doing it. I decided right then that we were either moving to Arizona in the next year, or never going there again.
Not the kind of people to make a quick decision about these matters, we decided to move a few weeks later. That set off the series of steps that would
result in Steph and I, the animals, and our stuff, ending up somewhere in the Valley of the Sun. In the months that followed, I became an
expert on household consolidation and interstate moving, skills that became mostly obsolete the moment we were unpacked.
The condo finally sold a few months before Wagons West Day. The price was less than half what we paid for it, but at least the ever-growing HOA
fees were gone. Only a few weeks away from leaving, we did not have our house in Minnesota sold, or ready for sale. This was by design. We knew
we'd never get it ready, and finish all of the "To Arizona" tasks. Someone was going to check on the house periodically and I was going to come back
to Minnesota in the spring for a few weeks and get it ready for sale. Some friends thought we were hedging our bets, but there's no
way Steph or I would move permanently back to Minnesota.
With less than a month left on the countdown to Out West, the original owner of Bike 25
comes back into
the picture. Brian N, which for the last time, may or may not be his real name, had a friend who was looking for a new place to live. He was
good at household repairs and the house had storage he needed. This house had no shortage of deferred repairs, so it was a great match. After
renting over the winter, he bought the house. It doesn't get any easier than that.
With most all the big stuff sold, and the moving crates scheduled to arrive soon for our big move to the southwest, I was wondering what I was
going to do with the Nitehawk. I didn't think an air-cooled bike would be too good for a climate that had 100-degree highs for months at a time,
and shipping it down was going to be quite expensive, especially compared to how much the bike was worth. I gave it one last shot, and a buyer
emerged to save the day, only a couple of weeks before the wagons were moving West.
The person who bought this was someone I knew from my BMX days, back in Chapter 2 or 3 of this collection. As he rode the Nitehawk away, I was
now without a motorcycle completely.
Previous Bike Bike List Now What?
Revised November 2017