Andy Rieger

“If you choose not to find joy in the snow, you will have less joy in your life, but the same amount of snow.”

— Advice from New York Sister Elizabeth

Rucker’s farm in northeast Norman was near one of the highest spots in Cleveland County.

The farm driveway was along 12th Avenue NE, now known as Sooner Road. It’s part of a housing addition now, but half a century ago it was the spot for local sledders to begin a nearly mile long slide northward down 12th Street.

Kids came from throughout the city to glide down 12th Avenue NE. If school was canceled, parents often dropped their kids there with a planned return pickup at sundown.

The only issue was climbing back up the long hill after the thrill ride down. There were no parents to haul us up or ski-lifts. So we improvised.

• • •

Enter Dad’s Honda Trail 90, perhaps the biggest workhorse of Honda’s young fleet. The 90-horsepower, automatic, four-speed, bright yellow, automatic step-through motorcycle looked rather sissy compared to the other big motors we owned. Our garage had go-carts, Kawasakis and Suzukis, even a few Yamahas and a Hodaka flat tracker.

Dad bought the Trail 90 from a friend. It followed a Honda 50 step-through rescued from a garage sale for $25. The Trail 90 came with a white, clam-shell, half-helmet and tinted, bubble visor that made him look like a martian traveling down the countryside. The visor covered his nose, leaving just enough room for his ever-present pipe.

The Trail 90 was our back-up bike in case my regular ride failed or the weather was treacherous.

• • •

It had knobby tires and a two-range, sub-transmission that when engaged allowed the bike and its adventurous rider to climb nearly straight up a wall. We did that a few times on the Lake Draper canyons and feared falling over on top of ourselves.

On a snow-packed 12th Street, we followed the sledders down the hill. The huskiest of kids would sit backwards on the back luggage rack and the sledders would grab his legs and we would tow half a dozen sleds hooked together with riders back up the hill at the same time.

The sissy cycle earned its mark, and after the first such outing no one made fun of it ever again.

• • •

At one time, Norman was known as a motorcycle town. There were three motorcycle dealerships within a half mile of each other.

The Daniels brothers had D&D on Porter and Comanche, another Daniels had T&T Suzuki two blocks north and a Kawasaki dealership opened south of the hospital on Porter.

The Trail 90 was king of the snowy roads until my Kawasaki 100 Trail Boss arrived in my garage circa 1971.

The Trail Boss had a similar gearing system that allowed a rider to downshift into a lower set of gears. With canvas side bags, it would hold about 400 newspapers for afternoon delivery.

More than once, I bounced up from a snowbank only to be still moving forward.


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