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My First Bike...Justin Armer

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Do you remember when you got your first bike? For most of us, it’s one of the best days of our lives. Thanks to the support of our friends at Spy Optics, we have a Saturday column called “My First Bike.” The subject of this week’s column is MXD.com’s Justin Armer, who has fond memories of his first bike, which sparked his passion for racing motorcycles.

It was 1986, and my first bike was a 1982 YZ80. Dirt bikes were a big part of my life from the moment I was born in 1975. My father and older brothers all raced flat track and scrambles back then. Unfortunately, my oldest brother, Billy, was killed on a dirt bike when I was around 4 or 5 years old. As tragic as that was, I still wanted to ride more than anything. My entire family vowed to never ride or race again. But that's all I ever wanted.

Each and every year, the very first thing on my Christmas wish list was always some sort of motorcycle, followed by a laundry list of all the equipment necessary to ride (e.g., helmet, boots, goggles, gloves, leathers, jersey, socks, kidney belt, underwear, etc.). I was bound and determined to prove to my parents that I would be safe if I only had every single piece of protective equipment known to man. Unfortunately, year after year, I was disappointed to find no dirt bike under our Christmas tree.
 
Luckily, my parents did allow me to race BMX. I raced bicycles for a few years as a young kid but still always yearned for a dirt bike.
 
Then, around the fifth grade, I started getting into a lot of trouble at school. The trouble got worse and worse until I actually got expelled from school in the beginning of sixth grade. I used to get into fights a lot, and my parents tried a bunch of things to get to stop. Nothing was working.
 
Finally, out of complete desperation, my parents decided to try to bargain with me. They correctly reasoned that if they offered to buy me a dirt bike, they could get me to behave. Unfortunately for them, they incorrectly reasoned that even though my behavior would "improve," I wouldn't actually meet their requirements to earn a dirt bike. That is, my grades were very low at the time, and they told me that I had to "stop getting into fights and to get a B average". They secretly hoped that I would just get into fewer fights and raise my grades to a C average, but never really believed I was capable of avoiding all fights and getting a B average.
 
Well, to their dismay, I achieved both of their requirements within two report cards, and now they had to make good on their end of the bargain.
 
If it wasn't for dirt bikes, I'm fairly certain that I would have ended up in a life of crime. I was a pretty out-of-control kid.
 
I can still remember the day we bought this bike. It was the happiest day of my life (but don't tell my wife that). It's funny how I can remember some of the tiniest details of that day, such as what was playing on the radio. I can clearly remember it was the song "Word Up" by Cameo. To this day, that song brings a smile to my face!
 
This photo isn't the day we bought the bike. When we got it, the rear tire was a road racing slick, and it was pretty hammered-looking. I put in tons of hours of sanding and painting to get that looking that new again. My old man wouldn't let me ride it without a helmet, boots, goggles, and gloves, so we bought those right away. In this photo, you can barely see my very old-school Fox boots (Velcro all around), and I was sporting some "sweet" JT Racing all-cotton gloves that were left over from our BMX days. They were the type of gloves with all those little rubber bumps on the palm, like the ones they sell in the garden section of Home Depot nowadays. The rest of my riding apparel consisted of blue jeans and any long-sleeved shirt for a while. I had almost no idea how to ride at that time, but I was happier than could be just to have a bike.

If you work in the industry and have a story you would like to share with our readers about your “first bike” experience, contact Fubar: mikef@racerxill.com.

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