Cleared to Solo

The universe is organized around two magnetic poles.

The positive node — you on your motorcycle.

The other pole is you at your desk.




I know you all have had some periods in your work where that work has simply sucked.

Long, long hours of grinding it out.

No breaks.

Victories few and far between.

Opportunities for a ride fewer still.

Due to a week in Planes, Trains and Automobiles, some freakish weather, and several clients at work all going all out all at once, I’ve been on a motorcycle maybe twice in the last 15 days.

And one of those was on Finn’s Blast after replacing his new front tire that inexplicably failed.

So if I’m not riding, Finn’s not riding.

And if you’re an 18-year-old with a brand new motorcycle, that shit’s gotta stop.




During a maybe 10 hour stretch of ‘Death by ConCall’, I was vaguely aware of Finn talking to his mother.

“MumbleMumble…..motorcycle….mumblemumble….by myself….mumble….round the neighborhood mumble…”

“Mumble…go ask your father….mumblemumble.”

A few minutes later, Finn showed up in the door of my office, new armored jacket on and helmet in hand.

I hit ‘mute’ on my headset and whispered “What’s Up?”

“Going for a little ride. 180. Saint Marks Road. And Burkettsville Road back into town.

Mom says its cool.”

Finn and I have been out on a few 10-15 mile checkrides together, and he hadn’t done anything that spooked either of us.

Even though Mom wasn’t actually cool with it, I was cool with it.

He was ready.

After ground school and instructor-led flight training, this pilot was cleared to solo.

I waved and went back to my meeting.




Maybe 20 minutes later, with my office window open, I became vaguely aware of the unmistakable sound of the Buell’s Harley-based single beat-beating across Saint Marks road, about 2 miles out on the other side of the canyon made by Catoctin Creek.

It’s funny how the bike seems fairly quiet from the saddle, but Buell’s multichamber muffler technology seems to pass the longer sound waves, making the bike sound as burly as any other Harley from any point out behind the bike.

About 5 minutes later, I expected Finn to appear in the bottom of the driveway.

Well, half expected and half didn’t, actually.

Half didn’t won.

15 minutes later, I heard the Buell beating up the grade on the other side of the valley again.

Like Father, Like Son.




When, sometime later, the Blast did finally appear at the bottom of the driveway, Finn gassed it up to outside the office window, killswitched it and set it over on the sidestand.

I walked outside to meet him.

The head that came out of that helmet wore a head-cracking-right-in-half-certified-only-possible-if-you’re-a-Muppet smile.

“Dad, that motorcycle is sooooooo much fun……”

Looks like Junior’s officially got his own wings.

Clear skies and tail winds, Finn.



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