My fascination with V4 power started back in 1999. I was still new to riding back then. Having been influenced by an older co-worker as well as a good friend, I purchased my first bike, a 91 CBR600F2. I was having fun, gaining some experience and trying to stay out of trouble. Soon after, that same buddy of mine imported two bikes via the grey market: an NSR250 and an RVF400, the latter resembling a miniature RC45. He let me ride both before he sold them. The RVF with it’s tiny V4 had this unique sound and power band. I was immediately hooked. About a year later I sold the F2 and bought a 2001 VFR800 new off the showroom floor. I quickly added a Staintune high mount exhaust and a Sargent seat, and then proceeded to ride about 26,000 miles over the next 5 years. I was living in Northern California at the time. Weekends comprised of trips to the coast, mountains, commuting, etc. I loved that bike with the power delivery and the sound it made. I went on some great rides and made some great memories. When my first child was born I thought I’d better slow down and be more responsible so I sold the VFR and settled into the idea that I’d probably never own a bike again. Too much risk I thought. Over the years I built a few cars, dabbled in some other hobbies, told my kids stories of riding and how much fun it was. About that time I did a track day at Laguna Seca, and the time I topped it out in Death Valley, only to get pulled over 20 miles outside of Las Vegas for doing 15 over. Thought it would be great to get another bike, if only to have that V4 sound in my garage again. Fast forward some twenty years to 2020. My older brother gets a VTX1300. “Hey man why don’t you take it for a spin?” “Nah, too big for me, besides I’ll never ride again. Too many distracted drivers, people texting not paying attention, etc.” He nods silently “How bad is it?” I inquired with some curiosity but still trying to justify my position, “Do you feel like people are gonna run you over every day or anything?” “Nope, not really” “Hmmmm…………interesting…..” Something to know about me is I have the unique ability to talk myself in or out of anything. If I spend enough time thinking about a certain venture, stuff just materializes. I decided it was time to recreate a memory. I went to the VFR forums and online classifieds looking for another bike, just like mine. Had to be a 2001 due to a few changes that were made when compared to the 98/99 models. Last year of the gear driven cams. Not interested in the VTEC models. 2000 would have been fine but the US only got yellow that year and my eyes just can’t handle that much yellow. Besides, everyone knows that red is faster. That’s been proven. Just ask the Ducati guys. Sent my brother a text with a picture of a potential candidate for sale: “You’re a bad influence. Just sayin’” “lol” His simple yet affirming reply I looked for several months, spoke with a few sellers. Surprisingly the 2001 models were a little hard to come by but a few popped up. Some had higher miles, some had accident damage, some were a little overpriced, some were too far away on the East coast. But then I got tipped off about a bike listed on a different forum. Looked really clean, only 21k miles, some nice mods, priced really well and only two states away. I scrambled to create a user profile on the forum. “I’ll take it!” I posted. “Cash in hand and PM inbound.” That was a Sunday. I spoke with the seller the next day. Hung up the phone and bought a plane ticket for a place called Manhattan, Kansas. I had to look that one up. “The little apple”, the seller joked. I spent the next few days getting things in order. New helmet, gloves, jacket, ear plugs, Ibuprofen, etc. I mapped out the journey. 999.2 miles per Google maps. I would travel due West from Manhattan, KS through the Colorado Rockies into Southern Utah and then North-West toward my home in Utah County. I wondered about the weather, particularly in the mountains of Colorado as they had been pummeled with snow about two weeks prior. The weather report called for 70s in Denver and 50s in the mountains. Road cameras showed clear highways. What luck! Let’s do this! Friday found me on a plane bound for my first stop in DFW, TX. I sat next to a young lady who was travelling to Puerto Rico with her boyfriend. “I’m flying to Kansas to pick up a motorcycle and ride it home” I told her. “I bought one just like it brand new 20 years ago.” “Well I’m 21.” she replied with a slightly perplexed millennial’s smile. I laughed to myself and thought about how I was “in my prime” at that age. Young, single, confident, I still had hair on my head. (Remember those days?) I’m only 45 but part of me still longs for the good old days, until I remember that I’m actually in the good old days right now, just a different version. I have a house, a stable job, and fantastic kids. One day I will miss these days my dad reminds me. And I know he’s right. She told me how they had purchased a bike about a year earlier. Totaled it 3 hours after purchase when a driver turned left in front of them. She showed me the pics on her phone. Both came away with only minor injuries. “It could have been a lot worse” she said. A sober reminder to always be vigilant on a bike. I had a few hours at DFW before my flight. Got some lunch and then found my gate. Settled in to check the news, people watch, and wait for the flight to board. I saw an older woman close by sitting in a chair with small wheels, not anything she could push by herself. She was missing her left leg, right at the knee. She looked miserable. Stranded. Left alone and forgotten. I put my phone away, mustered up a little courage, cleared my throat and walked over. “Can I give you a hand with anything?” “I’m really hungry” she said, glancing over at the vending machine. “Let’s get you something.” I released the brakes on her chair and pushed her over to the machine. She started to look for some change in her pocket. “I’ll take care of it. Anything you want.” I said. She wasn’t fussy. Just a Coke, a pastry and some chips. She seemed genuinely grateful. We spent the next hour talking. Victoria was 50 years old and from Houston. Truth be told, she looked much older. She had short brown hair and she was missing several teeth. He clothes looked like they had just been pulled from a pile at Goodwill. Something someone else had thrown away. She’d never been out of Texas, hadn’t done much. Had a rough childhood and most of her adult life was spent in the clutches of drugs and alcohol. Never one for subtlety I inquired about her missing limb, “What happened, you kick the dog too many times?” “I’ve been in the hospital the past 3 months. They took my leg. I’m diabetic and too much drugs.” she explained. “My dad’s gone, well my step-dad.” She paused and took a long look out the window. “He was my best friend. But my momma’s still alive. I’ll go and stay with her a while.” I asked about her life, and mostly just listened. “I used to be good at art” her eyebrows raised slightly from a rare, good memory then settled back down into her reality, “but it is what it is. I can’t remember much these days.” “Everyone has struggles,” I said hoping to offer some reassurance. “I think everyone could write a book about their life and experiences. And look on the bright side, you’ll save money on shoes!” I said with a wink. She eeked out a laugh while eating her Ruffles. I left her in the hands of a caring airline employee who assured me that she would get her on the plane ok. And that she did. I left thankful to have met her, and more thankful for what I had waiting at home for me. Soon it was time for me to board. I hopped on a small plane headed for Kansas. I overheard another passenger say they had to remove the pesticide sprayers to convert our crop duster into a commercial airliner. He wasn’t far off. It was cozy but got the job done. I was tempted to poke my head into the cockpit and say “I just want to tell you both good luck. We're all counting on you,” in tribute to the late Leslie Nielsen but I chickened out. In hindsight I should have went for it. Instead I proceeded back and found my seat next to a retired Kindergarten teacher from South Carolina who was flying in to see her grandkids. Her name was Kathy, like my mom. “Easy to remember that one,” I said. “My son-in-law is stationed at the base there. Hopefully he doesn’t have to go overseas again. He spent 9 months in Afghanistan on one tour. The baby was born while he was away” she said pensively. “What’s the best thing about being a Kindergarten teacher?” I asked. She didn’t hesitate at all, “Showing up to work every day and feeling loved.” Now I was the pensive one. I like what I do but it’s not like that. Hmmm… Upon landing she wished me a safe ride and I wished her a happy Easter with her grandkids.