Sunday, March 30, 2008

I Bought A New 1969 Triumph 250 Motorcycle In Maine

My 1969 Triumph 250 Motorcycle

I had to drive 66 miles from Katahdin Lodge to the nearest Triumph dealer to buy that bike. There was a Honda dealer over in Houlton, 35 miles away, but the next nearest motorcycle dealer at all was up around Caribou and Presque Isle. And I checked the odometer once, it was 66 road miles from the Lodge to the Triumph dealer.

My Uncle Finley was going to buy himself one just like it, but the Triumph dealer would not give Fin a discount for buying two at a time. The dealer charged $735.25 for one, and he wanted $735.25 for the second one. But he was a native Mainer, who had never seen us before that day, and we were "from the outside", not from Maine. My Uncle Finley and Aunt Martha had moved to Maine, from Maryland, in 1965. The dealer may have given some native Mainer a break on the price, at least the 25 cents, but not to anyone from the outside.

I had some great times riding that motorcycle in Maine. It wasn't powerful enough to take the hills up there very fast, but that was O.K. with me, because I hadn't become too highly skilled of a rider yet.

In 1973, while living in Dundalk, Md., I bought a Yamaha 650 motorcycle. I became quite the highly skilled rider on that one, for sure; and there are still a few witnesses around who can testify to that fact.

Whenever I went riding out in the countryside, of Baltimore and Harford Counties in Maryland, with some other motorcycle riders from the Dundalk area, I always ended up leading the way. What I had learned up in Maine about country driving served me well when riding motorcycles through the Maryland countryside.

In Dundalk, I was nicknamed "Trick Rider", by a guy who I grew up with. He gave me that nickname because I would stand up on the seat, while riding, or hang off the side of my 650 Yamaha like a Plains Indian Warrior hanging off the side of a well trained horse while shooting from underneath the horse at battling Calvary soldiers or circled, covered wagons, and I'd do some other crazy looking things on the 650.

But my motorcycle trick-riding wasn't much of anything compared to what we see in motocross riding today. They really pull off some wild tricks in motocross, and usually way, way up in the air too.

In my defense though, we 1970s riders didn't have the super suspensions on our bikes like today's bikes have. And, like guitar playing, nobody had invented the wild, well tuned, modern licks or motorcycle tricks yet--that we enjoy today.

One time, up in Maine, I was on that 250 Triumph and goin' down the road feelin' fine, when I hit a huge mass of flying insects, just past Peavey's Corner on the way to Shin Pond from Patten. The massive cloud of bugs was so thick that they were peppering my face like bird shot from a shotgun blast and were flying up under my sunglasses and blinding me. So I had to turn around and head back to town.

I can't remember if they were mosquitoes or blackflies. Each of those insect species thrives in Maine every summer.

Maine's seasonal insect infestation gets so bad that you cannot walk very far outside before you are in bug bitten misery. You have to wear insect repellent when outside for more than a minute, if you want to be comfortable out there.

During summer bug season, we Katahdin Lodge bear hunting guides wore long sleeve shirts with the sleeves buttoned down at the wrists, and insect repellent applied to our wrists and lower forearms. We "bloused" our work boots military style. That means we tucked the bottoms of our pants legs up under big rubber bands, which held the doubled over pants cuffs tightly against our boot tops, to keep biting insects from crawling up our lower legs and chewing on them for a good, bloody meal. And we doused the sweatbands of our hats with bug dope too.

We guides all often got bit a few times each day. After all, somebody's gotta' feed them aggravating little dive bombers. The well fed insects then go on to be food for fish, birds and some larger insects, and those critters are all important parts of the local ecosystem. The bugs bite us humans, trout eat bugs and humans eat trout, at least I do.

Seems fair to me.

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