Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Interview With a Biker - Stanley MacDonald By Isaac Andrews

1978 Honda 400A
Stanley MacDonald (also known as Stan) is an 83-year-old who still loves bikes and rides them on occasion.  He is my uncle, and I only just found out that he STILL rides bikes.  I chose Stan because I remember him having bikes when I was younger, and he is really one of the only people I know in my family to have rode bikes.  He is a retired farmer who has owned many of bikes.  I start out by asking him what got him into bikes.  “I’m not too sure about that one.  I can’t pin point something that got me into them, I’ve always had a bike and just rode them.”  He also had a simple time getting into bikes, because no one told him not to.    Not only did he love bikes, during the winter when he had to put the bike away, he would go downhill skiing or be playing hockey.  I ask him about putting the bikes away, “Well, you know I love to downhill ski.  That’s towards the top of my hobbies, when I’m not busy on the farm.”  As a farmer, there was not a lot of time off work.  You must continuously feed the animals and do even more chores around the farm.  “Well, how do you find the time to bike?  It must be difficult.”  He tells me that it wasn’t too hard to find some spare time, “Often we went for some road trips, although not very long, me and Benita,” (His wife),” went on a trip on Sunday.  Those were generally our day off, as most farmers.”

Stan and His Grandson riding a Nighthawk.
I had mentioned that Stan owned quite a few bikes.  In total, he has owned 5 different bikes.  Stan’s first bike was a 1945 Harley Davidson.  He couldn’t remember the model, but he said it was kind of a “hunk of junk.  Not only did it burn oil, but it also leaked it all over the driveway.”  That was his first bike, which he bought in 1960, it was a used bike.  He told me, “after that bike, I said I would never by a used bike again.”  So, he never bought a used bike again.  After about 12-13 years of not riding a bike, he went out and bought a 1978 Honda CB400A, where the A means automatic.  I ask him, “Was it hard to get back on a bike for the first time?”  Stan replied, “No, it’s like riding a bike.  You can’t really forget how to do it.”  He still owns and rides this bike on occasion.  “It was the only one that was sold in this area.”  He told me that there was only 9,000 miles on it (around 15,000km).  The bike looks brand new, all shiny, all parts from the factory.  The picture does not do it justice.  He even told me that the tires on the rims are still the same ones from when he bought them.  The third bike he got was a 1980 Honda CB400 Hawk.  He put 15,000km on it, then decided to sell it.  His next bike was his favorite one out of all of them, the 1984 Honda Nighthawk S.  He also still owns this bike as well, and has put over 100,000km’s on it.  He said that he drove this bike all summer, every summer.  He had the most fun on this bike.  He liked it for the speed, it was a 750cc back in 1984, so it definatley was not slow.  He then got another bike, a 650cc Suzuki V-Strom, (he forgot what year it was).  He put about 20,000km’s on this bike and decided to get rid of it.  Last but not least, or maybe least in Stan’s case, was his 2008 Spyder.  Stan put about 20,000km’s on this aswell before he got rid of it.  “What was your least favorite bike?” I asked.  “Oh man, it had to be that damn Spyder.  Not only is it not comfortable, you don’t feel like you riding a bike.  When you lean into a turn on a normal bike, you counter steer.  On the spider you steer normally, and since you don’t lean into a turn, you feel like your about to get thrown off the bike.”  Stan loves the feeling of the bike, being able to lean into turns, the way you can feel the bike, and all the ways to run a bike.

Pretty Bike
“What was the longest trip on a bike?”  Stan told me that him and Benita would go down to upstate New York every once in a while.  Those were their longest trips.  “We would take 3-4 days to make the trip, and those were some of the best moments biking.”  I then asked if he had been in any accidents, and he said “never.  Have not even had a scratch while riding a motorcycle.”  I had then asked him the longest time without riding a bike, and he said that it was between his first and second bike.  He didn’t ride for about 12-13 years and hadn’t forgot how to ride the bike.  Ever since then, he has owned at least one bike, to this day. Biking isn’t just a hobby, it is a culture.  Stan, even though he worked full time on the farm, found ways to always get to ride his bike.  Lots of bikers are like this, they bike on their free time.  Stan put almost 250,000km’s in total on a motorcycle, and probably 80% of the kilometers was driving for fun.  Even after all that, he still finds it fun.  There aren’t many things that you can get that much joy out of, but biking is one of them.  I feel like I could have focused more on one subject in this interview, but we did stay on one topic.  We kind of just started talking about bikes and which was his favorite, which isn’t a bad thing, but I feel as though my interview could have been more professional. But it was fun talking bikes and learning more about the culture.  Learning how so many people love their bikes and make the time to ride them even though the schedule is cramped.


Big thanks to Stanley MacDonald for giving me his time in doing this interview.  I learned a lot about him, and was fun talking bikes with him.

About Isaac Andrews

Isaac Andrews studied at Champlain College Lennoxville located in Quebec, Canada. Interview With a Biker - Stanley MacDonald was written as part of a class activity for a course titled Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Studies in the Department of Humanities.

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