Saturday, July 16, 2011

Final Drive: The Botway Factor

In my Father's Day piece, I left out one person that deserves as much credit as any of the rest in fomenting motorcycling to me. It wasn't a purposeful oversight, the truth is, I forgot. Stanley or Dr. Botway as I used to call him, was a chiropractor in North Merrick, NY. My mom had gone to him for years and I when I started having my own back issues in my late teens, I started going to him too. Stan is a gregarious sort of chap with a fantastic sense of humor and he resembled Benny Hill a little too, which adds to the flavor. As you know, I was exposed to motorcycles and people that rode them from a young age. What made Stan different is that he rode a BMW. Once you got to know Stan, it was understandable: He liked the very best in any hobby or interest he pursued. Stan also collected firearms and knives, which were other areas of interest we shared. His tastes in those also showed a tendency to favor what would be considered best in class.

Still, when I was young, I never understood the draw towards BMW as a motorcycle. They were stodgy, parochial and to be honest, seemed to be odd to me. They were a bike for old fuddy duddies. Stan would regale me with stories and opinions of how balanced they were in terms of performance and functionality. Stan certainly had the riding chops to back it up, with riding around half a million miles lifetime in a sport where some people wouldn't do that in five lifetimes. He would often take off for as long as six weeks in the summer and tour the country going as far as Alaska. In spite of these stories, I went a different route, starting off with a 1978 Kawasaki KZ1000 in 1987. While the KZ would run circles around any boxer of that day, in time I would find out the limitations. The KZ could go well enough, but stopping and handling were another story. From there I went to a GPz750 that was my brothers. I kind of got it back in shape, but gave it back to him when I moved to Iowa, as I already had a Vulcan 800 Classic at the time that was going with me. Since then I have owned a Vulcan Nomad 1600 and now a 2009 R1200RT, but I am getting ahead of myself.

Over the years I had kept in touch with Stan and used his services when I had to. He was the only chiropractor I had ever used prior to moving to Iowa. Since then, he retired from practice and moved to North Carolina. Some years ago I had gotten in contact with him and we converse through email. About a year ago, I felt that the Nomad wasn't the motorcycle for me. It's a lovely bike ridden within it's limitation or even mine, but it's not complete or well balanced. It doesn't have ABS, cruise control, or heated seats and grips. Speaking of seats, Kawasaki must have hired CIA interrogation operatives to design the stock seat. I couldn't ride that bike without wanting to jump off it after an hour. I tried a Mustang seat, and it was the biggest waste of money I had spent on a motorcycle. I still wanted to jump off after an hour and half. Anyway, I felt I needed something more balanced, more complete. As luck would have it, Stan had a 1998 R1100RT, complete with Russell Day Long seat and a trailer. The price was very good, but I decided against buying it. I felt bad about it, as it would have been nice to "inherit" a bike owned by Stan, but I wanted something newer, more modern, something complete and balanced.  I could afford to do it, so I did. Last October, I found a leftover 2009 R1200RT at a local dealer. I think I may had momentarily disappointed Stan, but I heard he sold it to a neighbor.

I could write a tome about Stan or at least my impressions and interactions with him, but in a nutshell, he was a great factor, an immeasurable one in my starting out and continuing to ride motorcycles. My mom was scared to death that something bad would happen to me. She had a very negative view of motorcycles and Stan understood that. One, he told her he would talk to me about riding safely, and two, he reassured her that I would be ok. Mom trusted Stan and it went a long way in keeping her peace of mind. Stan's advice to me was to always have the attitude that everyone on the road is trying to kill you, where on purpose or otherwise and have eye on all sides of your head.  His advice works as far as I am concerned. He was my chiropractor, friend, set a good example as a fellow human being and on this past Father's Day, I wish him the best and thank him for being there for me. With him, I would not be riding today and it's as simple as that. My only other wish is that we lived closer. God bless you Stan and thank you.

Thank you for reading this blog.

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