As a kid of 18 in high school, I had that same acquisitive vehicle lust that every young guy has at that age. I was a regular browser at the iconic ‘McBride Cycle’ in Toronto’s West End, not too far from where I lived. A new, but one-year old, gold Honda CB-350 kept calling be back time and time again……
I was working at a Sears warehouse in Rexdale at the time, so one day I wandered into the cycle shop with my weekly pay packet on board. Impulse, desire and commerce collided with me putting a down payment for layaway. As I recall, the price of the bike was just under $900.
I dutifully trudged down to McBride’s pretty much every payday after that, with a substantial portion of each pay going toward my outstanding balance. The staff at McBride’s must have gotten sick of me, standing around admiring and sitting on my ‘purchase’, but never muttered a word of displeasure. (This might have been a drama they’d gotten used to seeing unfold more than once,)
Finally, one day in early February (the 6th, if I remember), having in the meantime acquired a wonderful (British Racing Green) leather jacket and (white) Bell helmet, I arrived at McBride’s with my gear in hand and the final installment in my pocket.
It was kind of a watershed moment really, mainly because, up to that point, I’d never been more than a passenger on a motorcycle; the roads were covered with snow and the temperature was WAY down there. The staff at the shop were nonchalant about the situation. They prepped the bike, gave me the ownership and keys and wished me luck.
The ride home was ‘adventurous’ to say the least, I stalled it at least a dozen times and almost laid it down two or three, but arrived to park in my friend’s garage around the block from my house without having damaged my new jewel.
Breaking the news to my parents was still an adventure that lay ahead, as did a whole pile of raw material for future anecdotes, not the least of which was getting an actual motorcycle license much later on down the road.
Where the story takes a sort of “full circle” turn is this: I bought my current ride, a 2002 Kawasaki Vulcan back in late 2006 from a guy in Belleville. I’d driven out and trailered it home (at the time) to Sauble Beach. As I was unloading it from the trailer, getting ready for a ride, I noticed the key-fob – It was from McBride Cycle. Turns out, the historic shop had closed about a year previously, but it was the origin of my first, and likely last, bikes.