First Love

First Love

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I believe that there is a common misconception that your first bike is temporary, that it comes and goes like a data point on the riding learning curve. Perhaps the details of that bike get lost in the story of your first parking lot drop or your first road trip with buds, all before upgrading to something bigger or better. For me, it was quite the opposite. I did not seek out my first bike, it found me- and ultimately triggered a chain reaction that would alter the course of the rest of my life. A slightly-customized 1975 Yamaha XS650 'cafe' rolled into my universe more than eleven years ago that made me feel like I was super cool and invincible. (Picture the Fonz, as a Mercury 7 Astronaut. THAT was the feeling.) This bike cracked my socially awkward shell, and opened my eyes to a whole new world of wonderful people and destinations. It is still wild to think that an inanimate object was capable of breathing a new life into my soul that forever changed the trajectory of my life. 
 But, like so many others have done, I ended up parking that bike in the back of the garage for many years while I was off riding newer machines. As such, I recently thought I would be ready to sell her and move on past that initial data point. I was so very wrong. During lockdown I fell headlong into a full blown build project to transform my XS650 into a tracker. The fate of our story was sealed once I brought her back to Ventura Raceway to burn a few laps for the first time in half a decade. I would gladly sell almost any other bike in my garage before parting with my first love, the very inception point of my two-wheeled life. True love really does stand the test of time. - Tamara Raye
Photos by John Ryan Herbert

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