Opinion: Father’s Day Guide

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Photo: Michael Schwartze

Unlike many riders, I didn’t get into motorcycles because of my dad’s interest in them. Quite the opposite, in fact. Both of my parents actually did their best to dissuade me from actively engaging in the hobby in any way.

Much to their disappointment, I came home with my first motorcycle when I was 25 anyhow. Mum cried and Dad yelled until he was blue in the face. He had ridden in his younger years but had given it up when it came time to raise a family because of the risks involved. The vision that immediately popped into their minds was me being one of those guys weaving through traffic at twice the speed limit and popping wheelies down busy city streets.

Witnessing the multitude of bikes I would bring over got my dad interested and one day he shocked me by swinging his leg over one of them before asking with a smirk, “So what do you have to do to get your license these days anyway?” Not having ridden in some thirty odd years, he would have to start from scratch. He signed up for the same Gearing Up program I had completed years earlier at Humber College and we got him sorted out with the proper gear – something that wasn’t a concern when he’d ridden before. Sure, riding that Triumph with no more protection than a pair of aviator sunglasses and sideburns was acceptable in the 1970’s, but it doesn’t exactly slide now.

Photo: Michael Schwartze

Being of large stature and height, riding the program’s petite Virago 250s was challenging to say the least, but he persevered and passed. He started picking up motorcycles for me from the various media fleets around the city and we did several short trips together. On one particular Friday the 13th we rode down to Port Dover on a couple of Harley-Davidsons – a Springer CVO (remember those!) and a Road Glide.

Unfortunately, his aging body has not been kind to him, and he’s had to give up riding as a result. If the last few years have taught us anything as a family, it is that life is fragile and fleeting. We’ll always have those memories of riding together though, which I deeply cherish.

Photo: Michael Schwartze

He has however been very helpful on projects I’ve struggled with, including my ill-fated R6. A retired Air Traffic Controller and Pilot, he has a keen sense of how to troubleshoot issues and solve problems. Some obstacles require a delicate touch, while other times a sturdy swing of a hammer is what’s needed. He’s also got every possible tool for the job.

For years now, he’s been adamant that he doesn’t want any gifts for Christmas, his birthday or Father’s Day. The only thing he wants from his family is something you can’t buy – time. Well, that, and maybe lobster. I happily abide by arranging hockey tickets or road trips to an airplane museum that we can enjoy together, rather than buying items that will end up cluttering the basement or a landfill.

Perhaps your old man would be happy with some riding gear, parts or accessories he’s had his eye on, or maybe he too would be happier with experiences instead of things. The best thing you can give your dad this Father’s Day is your time and attention by doing whatever he wants to do. And if he’s the kind of guy who enjoys wrenching on or riding motorcycles, well then that’s even better.

Photo: Michael Schwartze

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