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John Youells – Why I Ride

It all started at a young age – when I was 4 or 5 years old. We lived in Lansdale on 3rd Street and had a 2 story barn out back. In the barn my father and a few of his friends would gather with their motorcycles; one friend kept a ‘61 Corvette in there. They were your typical motor heads – all bikers. The hot bikes back then were the 305’s… Yamahas and Hondas. The guy with the ‘Vette had a 650 triumph. He would put me on the tank of his Triumph and we’d ride around town in Lansdale. I would hold on to the handlebars and occasionally he would let me steer. My dad did the same thing with his Honda. Those rides left a lasting life time impression on me.

We eventually moved from Lansdale to the “countryside” in Blooming Glen. All the kids in the neighborhood had mini bikes and small dirt bikes. There was plenty of farm land to ride on and you could ride for hours and hours from town to town.

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First few years of living there my parents weren’t able to afford a bike. So, for a couple of years, I was able to ride my friends’ bikes. But for my magical 9th birthday, my father hid a 3.5 horsepower Toyoco mini bike underneath plastic kiddie pool in the ga-rage. He told me to go out to the garage and put the pool out in the shed. My birthday is in September so swimming season was over. But, to my surprise, it wasn’t just a mini bike there; it was my first taste of FREEDOM. Now I was able to join the other guys and ride all day long out in the farm fields. Probably the greatest memories I have as a child were from that time.

As life went on, I graduated to dirt bikes, each one getting a little bigger as I was getting older. When the time came to get my driver’s license, my first bike was a Kawasaki Enduro 100, with high and low gearing. I rode that bike for two years on the street. I left home at 16 and that was my transportation to school and my full time job at Dunkin Donuts at night. At that time in my life, my bike was a necessity and not for enjoyment only. But I would spend as many hours as possible riding off road.

I had many bikes right up to the time my daughter was born, when I was 27. That time I was riding a Honda 650 Enduro to Center City every day to my job as an elevator constructor. Driving down the Schuylkill every morning and every evening you should have seen the looks from the people in cages. Fellow employees thought I was nuts. At that time I was working on the Blue Cross building. In the morning I would put my bike on the freight elevator and take it to the 17th floor where our work shop was. My fellow employees let me know how nuts they thought I was by filling up my helmet with 5/8 inch nuts. Of course I picked up my helmet to try to put it on and all the nuts fell out. The laughter was deafening.

After that happened, that weekend my parents and my ex-wife’s parents sat me down and tried to talk me out of riding motorcycles. They thought my profession was dangerous enough, let alone that riding a motorcycle every day to work was an unnecessary chance I was taking. They wanted me to be around for my daughter’s graduation, wedding, etc. So after about a month of their hounding me, I finally agreed to give up riding. That was the first time I did not have a motorcycle since I was a kid.

I gave up riding for about 10 years. But the bug hit me again. I went out and bought a Buell and started riding to work again. I had that for a couple of years then bought a 2003 Harley Electra Glide. This is when my week long vacations started to be centered on motor-cycle trips. That was a decision I will never regret. I’ve had several bikes since then. For years I rode for necessity of cheap transportation to get back and forth to work. I still ride occasionally for work, but now riding is more for enjoyment.

Now the enjoyment can be just a simple ride to clear my head. It’s truly a way to get back to just be in the moment and not worry about anything else. It is purely therapeutic for me to just concentrate on riding and enjoying the sights and sounds that are around me. And because of this, somehow, a simple ride can change a bad day into an awesome one.

For years I rode as a lone wolf but now I’ve come to enjoy camaraderie of the members of our HOG group. But, more importantly, I now have a steady riding partner in Mary Ellen, who seems to like to ride as much as I do, or maybe even a little more. This is truly a blessing to be able to share some-thing as simple as a bike ride, however long or far. Time spent bonding on our rides leaves such a lasting impact on us, bringing us closer together with the places that we’ve been to, things that we’ve seen and people that we’ve met along the way. Bikers truly are an extended family.

Why do I ride? It’s my utmost favorite thing that I can do while having my clothes on.

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