This is the second in a series of articles about getting back into riding after a long hiatus. Part 1 of the series can be found here.
There are a couple of reasons that I will positively own a Moto Guzzi, some practical, some whimsical, and a final emotional reason – Officer Floyd “Skip” Fink of the Arizona Department of Public Safety. Skip Fink patrolled in the Globe-Miami area when I was a kid. He and his partner, Russ Fifer, used to ride their big Guzzi Eldorados all over town, and visited my Father’s Restaurant/Hotel almost every day for lunch or dinner.
I made sure I was there when they pulled up. Floyd would wrestle with me, tell me about his job and treat me like a little brother (I had bruises to prove it). I always had the utmost respect for him, and it influenced my opinion of law enforcement for my entire life. Big Guzzis were exotic anywhere, even though a quite a few law enforcement organizations used them. The general public at that time was enamored of the Honda 750 and later the even larger-displacement Kawasakis. I don’t think that anyone in my small town even knew that Italians made motorcycles, yet here they were; big, fast and tank-like. All style and a stamp of approval from Law Enforcement officials that were practically family.Floyd’s career progressed through the ranks for years after. I lost touch with him but knew other Officers and kept track. The Guzzis were long gone at that point, but Dad and I talked about that period often.
Officer Floyd James Fink Jr.Arizona Department of Public SafetyEnd of Watch: Friday, February 18, 2000
“Officer Floyd Fink was killed when his patrol car was rear-ended while he was stopped behind another vehicle on the shoulder of U.S. 60 near Tempe, Arizona. Officer Fink had been employed with the Arizona Department of Public Safety for 28 years, and is survived by his wife and four adult children. — full story
My dad passed in late 2000 — I remember telling him about Skip’s death, he had helped him get into the Arizona Highway Patrol — he fell silent for quite awhile and cried, probably only saw him shed tears 3 or 4 times in my life.That single impression is not enough to make me want to buy a Guzzi, but thinking about those big bikes through my memories made me start to do my homework. I joined various Yahoo Moto-Guzzi Lists, especially the “Loop Frame” list that concentrated on the Big Guzzis in the late
60’s and early 70’s. I found that their advice, attitudes and personalities fit my own. After meeting up with Mark at Moto Guzzi Classics in Long Beach (he’s a “list regular”), I knew that a Big ‘ol Guzzi could very well be a great choice of a bike and a group to share the time with. I found a few wonderful examples of V7s, Ambassadors and Eldorados to chose from.
Still, I needed more research to make “the best decision”. I found a book about Motorcycles – The Perfect Vehicle: What It is about Motorcycles by Melissa Holbrook Pierson. Her bikes were “small block” Guzzis from 500 to 650cc. She also had exactly the same opinion about “Guzzi People”. My decisions were reinforced. I looked hard at the “small block” Moto Guzzi line; after sitting on a “small block” Guzzi, I just didn’t fit, but I knew I was moving in the right direction.I have considered getting a brand new One. The reasoning for this is while I have very adequate mechanical skills, I also want to ride, and ride safely. A New Guzzi is going to be the safest transportation of the three, albeit the most expensive. Yet I’ll get to ride, have a warranty and still have The Guzzi Experience.At the point of writing this in late October of 2007, I haven’t made the final decision. I’ve resorted to spreadsheets, advice from friends that ride, mailing lists and a few salespeople.
Uh, yeah. That’s an issue. My Motorcycle Safety Foundation Class starts in two weeks. I’m going to spend time with the instructors and talk about what type of riding I want to do, and really dig deep after I’ve actually gotten back on a bike and really given a final assessment. At that point I think I’ll know what to do and move forward. Meanwhile, I’m learning how to pinstripe just in case.
Next article: Part 3 — I get my gear and get an education.