Long Island on a 1975 Honda CB750
Escape From New York City
Kerry Pierno's 1975 Honda CB750 at home in New York City.
One hundred miles east of Manhattan is a place where the locals say the only thing farther east of its windswept dunes and tall sea grass is Portugal. To most urbanites this is the end of the earth. I set out at dawn one day on my 1975 Honda CB750 KS - to ride right off “The End.”
With a population of over 8.1 million in an area of 321 square miles, New York is the most populous city in the United States and the most densely populated major city in North America. So says the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2004 population estimates. But I betcha they left out the cabbies, those nomadic men and women who live in their cars and sleep three hours a day, forever outrunning the NYPD, the taxi and licensing bureau, and sometimes the INS.
There are days living here where it feels like all 8 million are right behind you, ready to stand on your neck.
Slaves to the city
Depending on how you feel about bikes, you couldn’t ask for a better or worse existence than life as a street urchin. My Honda CB750 sits outside uncovered everyday that it doesn’t snow, and the only way to keep her young is to use her. Classic Honda motorcycles thrive here. Sure, you see the usual Brit fare, but usually only in motion going from one parking garage to the next. Rarely do you have the honor to park your old Rising-Sun special next to a Trumpet or Norton. I had a Norton once, and the city ate her in two weeks, but this Honda is indigestible.
When I got her she was languishing in a garage on Long Island, stiff from being unused. She doesn’t smoke and is light on her feet. I keep her in gas, tires and oil, and she moves too fast for rust to catch her. I’ve had her close to 10 years now, and she has been my only transportation for long periods during those years. I’ve ridden her crossed up sideways in snow, and I have raced and chased the hipsters and their classic British motorcycles through Brooklyn. It has been true love.
As for me, I don’t know how I ended up here, over-educated in grad school only to hump Vespas around the city during the day and baby sit drunks in bars at night. Maybe it was fate. Maybe I was bored.
I get to ride at all hours and my Honda CB750 is an old friend to the avenues, but all this running around makes a bike seem like a tool. She is better than the subways and the tunnel rats, but at times I think she forgets she is a motorcycle, a soul-stirring machine, and just does her job of getting me around, feeling no better than a used Hyundai. I guess motorcycles need vacations too, ribbons of pine-laden, two-lane back roads or sun-bleached sandy costal routes to remember how not to be appliances. Or maybe I just need one to keep a step ahead of getting my neck squashed.
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