How my first motorcycle died; or, how to walk your motorcycle across 5 lanes of highway traffic …

The other day I was driving down the 401 between Pickering and Scarborough and I started to tell the friend I was with the story of how my first motorcycle died. He thought it was a crazy story, and I guess it is, so I thought I’d share with you the ‘crazy’ story of how my first motorcycle died …

My girlfriend worked in Oshawa and I lived in Toronto. She had stayed over on the Saturday night but needed to get to work for 6 in the morning. And so that was how we found ourselves at 5 o’clock on a clear Sunday morning hopping on my 83 Kawasaki 440 LTD I had nicknamed ‘Six Shooter’ on account of its 6 gears. It was just over an hour ride to get her to work. 

Riding in to Oshawa there were no problems at all – except for her falling asleep on the back of the bike a couple times (honestly, she fell asleep not once, but twice)! After dropping her off and saying our farewells, I turned around and headed back in to the city. The riding was nice as there was little traffic and the weather was warm and clear.

As I started to cross the Rouge Valley on the 401, I started to notice a problem. The engine seemed to chug and lose power – a similar feeling as when the gas is running low. So I switched it over to ‘reserve’ but the engine continued to cut out. I was riding in the express lanes in the far left lane, so while coasting without power I did my best to get to the right side shoulder. I couldn’t quite make it but I ended up on the left shoulder of the lanes to switch to the collector lanes.

I inspected the bike as best I could but couldn’t figure out what was wrong – there was gas in the tank, the spark plugs were good, the electrical seemed fine. But in gear I couldn’t push it – my heart sank. I called my dad who rides and lived nearby, and he said he’d ride down and we’d try to figure something out. So there I was, stuck on a median between the express lanes and collectors lanes on one of the busiest highways in Canada. Luckily I had a ‘smoke’ in my jacket, so I layed down on the grass and relaxed while I waited for my help to arrive.

When he finally arrived (close to two hours later) he had accidentally come in the collectors lanes and was separated from me – but instead of exiting, backtracking, and returning in the express lanes, he decided to pull over on the shoulder of the collectors and run across the three lanes of traffic to reach me!

We quickly decided there wasn’t anything we could do and that we should get it off the highway and bring it to a shop. However, instead of calling a pickup truck, we decided to push the bike across the highway and up the closest exit. So, in the middle of the day on a Sunday, there I was with my dad pushing my first motorcycle across five lanes of the 401 highway and two lanes of an exit ramp, then up to the closest exit.

At the time I was concerned about my motorcycle more than myself, so crossing the highway didn’t seem like such a big deal. Afterwards, in recounting the story to family and friends, I received wide-eyed stares and accusations of lacking sanity. To me it was the first of many crazy motorcycle stories to come …

Poor Six Shooter though – not sure how it happened, but the engine was running near dry of oil! At this time I had all my oil changed at the shops so I’m not sure whether they drained it and forgot to fill it or if there was some sort of slow leak I was unaware of – I guess the cold at 5 am kept the piston from seizing until I dropped my girlfriend off at work! I still pause for a moment of silence when I drive past that spot on the 401 …


About brent
Motorcycles, movies, music, photography, politics. These are a few of my favourite things.

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