– Ben Martens


We take risks every day of our life whether it's skiing down the side of a mountain, getting dragged behind a boat on skis, or driving a little too fast down the road. Even eating that piece of chicken involves risk. How much risk are you willing to accept?

For the past few months I've been working on a new project. Some of you won't be happy with me, and that's one reason I've kept it quiet. Only a couple people know that I've been working on this. I tend to blabber on incessantly about everything I do so I figured I'd use this as a little test to see if I could keep my mouth shut about something.

Over a month ago, I passed the written exam for a motorcycle license and got my learner's permit. Last weekend I took the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's three day training course and got my license. Friday I purchased a used bike. Saturday I got insurance and registration and I've been riding all weekend.

A motorcycle is still a dangerous mode of transportation, but there are things you can do to make it safer. I bought a 1995 Kawasaki Vulcan 800. It's an old cruiser, not a sport bike. I wear a full helmet, not a half helmet. I have a coat with protective pads instead of riding in a T-shirt. I drive two lane roads with stop signs to work instead of bopping down the interstate. My friend Aubry has been riding for years and has been my mentor through all of this from pointing me to the MSF course to teaching me motorcycle maintenance and giving me tips for riding.

Feel free to call me and tell me what a fool I am, but trust me, I know what motorcycles can do. A childhood friend passed away my second year at Purdue in a motorcycle accident. I had that fairly serious accident with a motorcycle two years ago. Plus I know a number of people who set off metal detectors because of all the metal plates they have in their bodies.

So why do it? Hop on the back of my bike sometime and I'll show you (although it will be a few weeks before I'm comfortable enough to give someone else a ride.) The feel of the open road is difficult to describe. The power of the bike underneath and the roar of the pipes as you accelerate are invigorating.

But enough of my excuses, some of you think this is awesome and I know you want to see pictures. Head on over to see “My Whips.”

In case you didn't make the connection yet, this is the answer to the three clues I posted. Here's how they relate.

  • Clue #1: Take the first word of each line. Slow, look, press, roll. That's how the MSF course teaches you to turn. Slow the bike down, look where you are turning, press on the handlebars to initiate a lean, and roll on the throttle to increase stability in the turn.
  • Clue #2: Some of you think my choice is illogical, and the bike I bought is called a Vulcan.
  • Clue #3: My horse (the motorcycle) is significantly faster off the line than my pony (the Mustang.)

There you have it. The end to the mystery and the end of my little silence experiment. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to figure out where I'm going to ride my bike to for lunch.