My First Motorcycle

FT1-Mini-Enduro_1971_01On my seventh or eighth birthday, my Grandad took me out to his car to get my birthday present. I never could have imagined that when he opened the trunk of his car I would see a motorcycle. But that’s exactly what happened!

There, somehow wedged in the trunk, was a gently used desert orange Yamaha Mini-Enduro motorcycle that looked like the one in the photo on the right.

With a little effort, my grandad was able to wrestle the bike out of the trunk and on to the ground. I don’t remember anything that happened between the moment the tires hit the ground and the moment I mounted the bike in the field behind our mobile home. But, I have a very vivid memory of my mom and grandmother watching me through the back window. Their looks of disapproval quickly morphed into a grimace as I approached the fence with no idea how to stop. As they looked away, I crashed into the fence. Fortunately, I wasn’t hurt. Neither was the motorcycle. Had I been hurt, I suspect, that would have been the end of that adventure.

Things got better pretty quickly as I learned how to throttle down and use the breaks, which was good because my mom was not happy about the surprise birthday gift.

It wasn’t long until I was racing around the field with a couple older kids, Jeff Baden and David Owen. They were riding Honda Trail 70s, but I was able to keep up in spite of their age and 10cc advantage. The field, about 5 acres, had a trail worn around the perimeter and a small pitcher’s mound type bump on the south end over which we jumped on each go-round. Round and round we went, never tiring of the blaring buzz of the 2-stroke engines, nor the repetition of our course.

I only had one mishap, and that ended up not being anything serious. On my way home, I entered the road while looking over my shoulder and didn’t realize I had crossed the road and was nearing the opposite side curb. When I looked forward, it was too late; I hit the curb and fell over. There was no damage, but the engine was flooded and I couldn’t get it started. Not wanting my parents to know that I had wrecked, I began to push the bike home, hoping I could get it started in a few minutes. I’m not sure how long I had been pushing the bike, but it was long enough that my parents noticed the quiet from the field and got in the car to come look for me. We met on the road, but I only told them that I couldn’t get it started. I never told them why. They never asked for more information, so I didn’t offer any.

The motorcycle fun lasted only a couple years because the owner of the field didn’t want us riding on the property. He had plans to develop it; at least that is what the signs said. However, nothing was done with the property for 30 years. In 2004, Arcadia Park Elementary School was relocated to a new facility on this property.

Had I not had to sell the bike for lack of a place to ride, I think I would have started racing motocross or possibly doing hill climb events because my dad really enjoyed both. Actually, we all seemed to enjoy watching them. But, I guess such wasn’t meant to be. And, I didn’t have another motorcycle until I was in high school.



  1. You’re so right about Mom not being happy with the motorcycle. And I am glad that you didn’t tell us about wrecking. We did have a lot of good times with the bike. I remember trying to ride and wrecking. Also going to and enjoying the hill climbs.

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