A spin around town and through the countryside, for old times’ sake


Editor’s note: If you’ve not read Part 1 of “The Last Ride”, read it HERE first. Trust us, you’ll be glad you did.


A minute or so later, Rusty snapped back to the present and said, “Well, I bet you didn’t think the price of some maple syrup was listening to an old man go on for an hour.  You must be itchin’ to get back on the road.  With all my gum-flappin’ I’ve kept you here too long.”

“Not at all,” I replied.  “I’m never in a hurry when I’m on my bike.  And the only place I need to hurry to is Gertie’s bathroom,” and I excused myself.

It was nearing noon when I stepped out of the bathroom to gather my gear.  Then Rusty said, “Hawkeye, I envy you.  It’s been 20 years since I’ve felt the wind in my face.  Wish I was going with you.”  I looked at him hard and thoughtfully, then offered, “Rusty, you know that bike out there has a passenger seat, and since I’m in no hurry, and it seems like you’ve got nothing to do, why don’t we go for a little ride together?”

Just then Gertie piped up, “Now Rusty, don’t you be getting any crazy ideas.  Man your age got no business climbing on a motorcycle,” and she gave me a stare that would stop a clock.  “Aw Gertie, whatcha worried about?” he asked, “and when will I ever get another chance like this?  Lead the way, Hawkeye, let’s go for a little ride.”   

So Rusty slowly got off his stool and straightened up.  He still looked pretty fit and spry for a man his age.  “Don’t worry, Gertie,” I called out, “I’ll have him back safe and sound in half an hour, I promise.”  Then she mumbled just loud enough for us to hear, “He ain’t sound right now, if you ask me.”

When we got outside, I handed him my helmet and said, “Here, you wear this.”
“Son,” he replied, “there’s only two things I’ve never done on a motorcycle- one is ride on the back of one, and the other is wear a helmet.  And I’m only going to break one tradition today,” and he handed me back my helmet.

With the bike resting on the sidestand, I helped him get his left leg on the passenger peg, and supported him as he slowly swung his right leg over and settled in.  I got on and fired up the Yamaha Virago’s 1100cc V-Twin.  “You sure you’re ready for this?” I asked.

“Been ready for 20 years,” he called back.

I slowly let out the clutch and off we went down Main Street, me trying to shift gears as smoothly as possible.

“Runs a whole lot smoother than Ole Wampum ever did,” he shouted.

He held my waist loosely, feeling secure with the sissy bar pad on his back.   After a few blocks, he told me to turn right at the next corner.  “Church will be letting out ‘bout now,” he yelled.  “If you see ‘em in the parking lot, honk your horn and wave.”

Sure enough, two blocks down, there were about 25 people still mingling in the parking lot of the little white church, mostly old folks, but a few younger ones.  I honked, and Rusty was waving like a little kid.  The looks on their faces were priceless as they realized who was waving at them.

“Hee hee,” he yelled, “I betcha this is gonna be all over town in a few hours!”   

After a mile or so, he asked me to turn left.  He pointed to an old brown brick building that was boarded up, and leaned in, “That’s the old high school I went to.  Now they bus ‘em to the new school ‘bout 10 miles away.  Just stay on this road for a while.”

A mile of so later the houses got fewer and more scarce.

“This was all country dirt road when I was young and now it’s smooth as glass.”

We’d been riding at about 40 miles per hour, enjoying the warm breeze, when Rusty leans in again, and shouts, “Don’t this Jap bike go any faster?”

I turned back and said, “OK, pal, hold on.”  I dropped it down to 3rd gear and rolled on the throttle, and we accelerated briskly, until I hit the redline at 7,500 rpm. A quick shift into 4th, kept the momentum going until we hit about 80.  Rusty was back there hooting and hollering like a kid.  I eased off the throttle and glanced at my watch, and saw we needed to head back before Gertie put out an all-points bulletin.

As I backed my bike to the curb in front of the Diner, Gertie and Emil the cook, a 60ish powerfully built black man, came out of the door.  Emil and Gertie helped Rusty off the bike, and I swear he looked 10 years younger, had a nimble spring in his step, and a breathy grin from ear to ear.   

I looked over at Gertie, who glared at me with a face that would curdle milk. But I could see a little twinkle in her eyes to let me know she was more bark than bite on this subject. She could see how happy her old friend was, and now that it was over safely, she could relax.

Not wanting to blow her cover, I said, “Now Gertie, don’t look at me so sternly.  I told you’d I’d bring him back safe and sound in a half hour, and I did.  Oh and by the way, I almost forget to pay for my breakfast- don’t want you to think I was a deadbeat,“ I said with a wink.

As I reached for my wallet, Rusty shouted, “Hey, don’t you even think about it.  Breakfast is on me!”  Rusty said it forcefully enough so that I didn’t even begin to argue.  “That was better ‘n any medicine I ever took, and at the cost of 3 pancakes and coffee, it’s the best trade I ever made.”

As I climbed back on the bike and started the motor, I said, “Well guys, that was the best breakfast I’ve ever had. And Rusty,” I said, looking him hard in the eyes, “I’ll always remember you and your story of a life well led.

He grabbed my hand, and with an overly firm grip, ordered, “You ride safe, now.”  Then he leaned in close, “And thanks for my last ride, son… God Bless.”

Ken “Hawkeye” Glassman

*If Ken’s tale touched your heart like it did ours, leave us a comment down below!

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  1. Donald J Schaffer

    Ken, that story says a lot about the heart of a biker, both the one who is retired, and the one who wants to help him bring back the memories.

    • Rob Brooks

      We wholeheartedly agree, Donald.

  2. Robert Fogel

    Ken Glassman is a true biker who brings us retired bikers right back on our bikes. Love everything about the tale he spins.

  3. Dan Montgomery

    Great story! Really enjoyed it!

    • hawkeye

      Thanks for taking the time to write. Glad you enjoyed the article. Hope you keep coming back.

  4. Jim D

    It is so hard to put the soul of old versus riding. I will be 72 this year and just got back to riding after a 40 year break. I understand both men in this story down to the bone. You NAILED IT! thank you.

    • Hawkeye

      Thanks for the kind words, Jim. GLAD you’re back in the saddle again. It wouldn’t hurt to re-take a Motorcycle Safety Class, and do some practicing on your own on some of the fundamentals like Panic Braking, Counter-steering, and relearning lean angles that your bike is capable of.

      Please keep reading our stories, and your comments and feedback are ALWAYS welcomed. RIDE SAFE and enjoy your re-found hobby !


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