Hugh Waller

by Hugh Waller

I was born in England on February 12th, 1957. My father was in the Army at that time and my mother was from France. I spent a large part of my younger years in Europe because my father was stationed in France, Germany, and England during the 50's and 60's.

It was during one of our tours in Germany where I first became acquainted and excited about riding motorcycles. My father had acquired a dirt bike, I don't know what size or what brand it was. I was about 8 years old and my father would put me on the seat in front of him so I could hold on to the handlebars. He would even let me turn the throttle. I remember us blasting up a hillside and throwing dirt with the rear wheel. That excitement of having the wind in my face and feeling the power when turning the throttle made a lasting impression on me that is still with me today.

The first motorcycle I had, which was shared with my brother Pat, was a 50cc Puch that we rescued from a barn at a relative's house. It was an Austrian made bike that could be purchased from Sears. The motor needed to be rebuilt, so my Dad ordered the parts and I could hardly wait for them to come in so we could get that thing running! I was about 14 at the time.

The following year I received a brand new Hodaka 100B. Most people have never heard of that brand of motorcycle. It was a company from Oregon called PABATCO, which stood for Pacific Basin Trading Company. They started making small trail bikes in the late 60's and closed down in the late 70's or early 80's. They were great bikes, but couldn't compete with the big four from Japan.

After having that bike for only about six months, it was handed down to my brother Pat and I was given a 1972 Honda CB350. It was gold metal flake with a black stripe down the side of the gas tank. This was my first real street bike and first bike with a four stroke motor. I didn't have to mix oil with my gas any more! That bike only lasted about six months because my father took it for a ride and a car load of teenagers turned right in front of him and totaled the bike. Luckily my Dad was not seriously hurt, thanks to wearing a helmet. The bike went under the car and my Dad flew over the car, landing head first on the asphalt.

I then purchased a 1972 Kawasaki 250 Enduro, which was a street and trail bike. I had that bike until I went to the Military Academy in 1975. In 1977, while home on spring break I bought a Kawasaki KX250, which was a motocross bike. Of course that bike had to stay at my parent's house because I was not allowed to have that while in West Point, but every time I went home on leave I had a bike to ride.

After graduating, my first duty station was in Germany. I sold my KX250 to my brother, so I started shopping for another dirt bike. I couldn't afford much with my measly $700 a month 2nd Lieutenant's pay, but I finally found a used KTM 350 dirt bike. I hardly ever rode that bike while in Germany, but at least I could sit on it in the basement.

I left Germany in 1982 and went to my next duty assignment at Fort Myers, Va. I sold the KTM before leaving Germany, so once back in the States I started shopping for another bike. This time I was looking for a street bike because I wanted to do some traveling on two wheels. I settled on a 1982 Honda CB900 Custom. It was a beautiful two tone burgundy color with shaft drive and a 10-speed transmission. It had five gears in the low range and five gears in the high range.

In 1984 after getting out of the Army I spent two months on that 900 traveling to the west coast and back. I saw some beautiful places during that trip, including the Grand Canyon, Yosemite National Park, Death Valley, Mesa Verde National Park, Zion National Park, and many beautiful back roads all across the country. It was during this trip that I saw and met some people riding the new Honda Gold Wing 1200 Aspencade. I thought to myself, that was a great touring motorcycle! Four years later while living in Orlando I bought my first Gold Wing, a 1984 1200 Aspencade. However, I still loved dirt bikes, and during the seven years I lived in Orlando I bought two more, a 1979 Honda CR250 Motocross and a 1984 KTM 250 Enduro race bike.

In 1995 while attending the Wing Ding in Greenville , S.C., I traded my 1200 for a 1994 dark teal Aspencade 1500. In 1998 I sold that bike while Marcy and I were going through the process of adopting Kirstie. In May 2001 I bought my present bike, a GL1800. I hope to have many more years of riding on two wheels and hope you do too!

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