The sidecar is dead! Long live the sidecar!

Just minutes ago, a nice fellow named David carefully strapped my beloved 1977 BMW R100/7 sidecar rig to his motorcycle trailer and drove slowly away. I’m not sure if he turned east or west, as tears of sorrow were dimming my vision.

I was brought to motorcycles by my lovely wife Kate, whose dad was a brit-bike racer of renown. Kate had a stylish Honda CB360 and her motorcycle license, which was just one of the many, many things that dazzled me about her. I immediately enrolled in Motorcycle Safety School, and paid careful attention at her dad’s motorcycle events, trying to determine which of the many motorcycle cliques I was to belong to.

I chose Tribe Airhead — grizzled, pragmatic riders of square, greasy, no-nonsense Teutonic bikes. Bikes that rumbled and growled and would take you across the country as easily as across the street. Bikes that looked like they meant business just sitting there. Bikes that you could invite your burlesque tap-dancer friends down from NYC to do a magazine photo shoot, and the rig is cool enough that they would actually come:

"No, mister Bond, I expect you to ROCK!"
The World-Famous Pontani Sisters show off the Ultimate Water Gun for Make Magazine

CamPic1Before putting the sidecar on the bike, I took a trip to Martha’s Vineyard by myself, and then an epic trip to Maine with Kate’s father Bob. Bob’s new R1150R pooped out on him, which was a cosmic insult to a fellow who wrestled Lucas electrics for fun. But I solved his problem using a crazy new thing called THE INTERNET. After a short detour to a dealer we found online, me, my R100, and my laptop computer had the Adventure of the Great East Coast Blackout. Only a hundred miles of range in our tank, but a blackout that extended two hundred miles in every direction — what to do? I used my cellular card to make reservations at Mohonk, a Quaker mountaintop with its own generator system, and we wheeled in after dark to the cheerful glow of a fully-functional five-star resort. There’s no better feeling than using your goofy skills to best effect in front of your father-in-law, and I’m eternally grateful for that trip, that bike, and that opportunity.

After I put the sidecar on the bike, we started showing movies to the public at the Guerrilla Drive-In, which we had done just in the back yard previously. The sidecar rig made a great projector platform:

GDI rig
This photo was the product of hours of work by Harold Ross, who bathed the rig in light from various fiber-opctic wands, then stitched it into this photo

I’ve had a great time riding all over West Chester, showing movies with the Guerrilla Drive-In. We even got on the ABC Evening News with Katie Couric!

The Finished ProductI have loved this sidecar rig. It’s been a wonderful, faithful bike, and a sidecar rig just seems to make people happy. Lots of smiles and waves, and it’s a great excuse to wear the lego mini fig helmet I made (pictured at left.) It’s been absolutely wonderful.

However, I’m at a new chapter in my life. I want to take the whole family out for ice cream, and a sidecar doesn’t really work well for that. Plus, as weird as this sounds, a sidecar doesn’t really describe where I am in my life right now. A sidecar combination says adventure — the kind of adventure where brave, plucky souls battle hardship and challenge. A sort of post-apocalyptic vibe. And, as I become a happy middle-aged dude in a wonderful town, with great schools, raising a charming, brave, and intelligent girl, well… there’s not a lot of Mad Max in that story, you know?

So rather than let the bike live in the garage as a reminder of a previous chapter in my life, I want to make room for the next chapter. And I want to make room in my life, my wallet, and my garage for whatever goofy-ass vehicle might be right for that next chapter 🙂

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