Today, I decided to take the Gold Wing for a little ride in the neighbourhood. The weather was sunny and dry, and this time of year, you have to take the nice days as they come. As winter approaches, there will be less and less desire to bundel up and brave the cold just to put a few kilometers on the dial.

I knew my tank was almost empty and I would need to fill her up again. In fact, I couldn’t get her started until I switched over to the reserve tank. So, first stop would be the gas station. I was curious since this would be my first fill-up since my departure and it would tell me what kind of mileage I am getting. (As it turns out: 16.5 kl/L)

I pulled up to the pump, put the bike on her side stand and did the in-and-out with my debit card. I prefer to sit on my bike when I am filling up as I can keep the bike upright. I threw my right leg over the seat, and at the same time, started pulling the bike upright. I instantly realized I had pulled too hard! the bike started to fall in the opposite direction, and it was all I could do to keep it from falling over completely. Straining every muscle in my arms and shoulders, I was able to bring the bike back to an upright position. “Whew” I thought! Nobody noticed how close I was to laying my Gold Wing down on its side. As I finished filling up the tank, I realized that adrenaline was pumping through my body, partly from the physical exertion, but also the scare it gave me. I was suddenly made aware of the size and weight of the Gold Wing and reminded that I needed to be more methodical about moving it around. This was a close call.

Still a little rattled, I left the gas station and headed out of town, figuring I would just see where I ended up and could always find my way back, by navigation if necessary. After about 10 minutes, while passing through a little place called Tiegem, I noticed a nice spot to stop and view the wide open landscape. I pulled off the main road and parked the bike. There was an information plaque with some local history and a table where I could sit and survey the surroundings…and my Gold Wing.

After a little while in the sun, I spotted a bright white facade in the distance, and decided I wanted to see if I could get closer to it. For the second time that morning, I threw my right leg over the bike started to pull it up off its kickstand. What I had not realized is that I was on a slight decline, and as soon as the weight of the bike was lifted, it started to roll…but was not yet upright! And with my other hand tied up with gloves and helmet, I could not stop the momentum.

All I could do was let the bike fall to the left as I pushed myself up and away so as not to get caught under it.

My first thought: “Shit!”

My second thought: “Whew, no one else saw what happened.”

Again, my heart was beating a little harder. I had been worried about just such a situation and how I would handle it. Could I get the bike back upright on my own? Well, now was the moment of truth. I walked back to the bike and, with a decent amount of effort, yet well within my range, I managed to get it back on two wheels and a kickstand.

The rest of the trip that day went without a hitch. I enjoyed manoeuvring an oversized motorcycle along little winding roads which led to old farmhouses, one of which sported the white facade I had seen earlier. While I rode, I thought back on the two critical moments which had taken place. On the one hand, I had the feeling that this motorcycle was far to big for me. I felt it could pose a hazard in critical situations. At the same time, I entertained the image of my Gold Wing parked there on the road, with all its classic looks, and felt a sense of wonder. How could a machine, built more than 40 years ago, still run so reliably and smoothly? That is impressive workmanship!

I guess it is a love/hate relationship I have with this Gold Wing. Sometimes I look at it standing in the sunshine, and fall in love…again. Other times, I glance over and think “Oh my god, look how many things there are which could go wrong!” There are moments I recall the advice of a neighbor: “For the same amount of money, you could have bought a newer, more reliable motorcycle for your trip.” And then there are the times I am riding down the highway and another motorcycle passes me with a big thumbs-up.

Yes, I guess I love this Gold Wing. And, at times, I love to hate it.