Vogts earns motorcycle license despite difficulties

via jrdkirk.com

I’ve had some bad days, but Thursday was the start of a 24 hours in hell for me.

It all centered on the fact I was planning on taking my motorcycle driving test Friday morning in McPherson since I had already passed the written portion.

See, I was going to be in the McPherson area (my hometown area) anyway because I had to dj both Friday and Saturday night, so I figured I could use my downtime Friday morning to pass the driving test.

In preparation of this, I needed to load my 1982 Honda CX500 to take home with me. First, I was going to load it in the bed of my pickup. To do this, I backed my vehicle into the ditch so I could just drive the bike onto the bed. However, the ditch was a bit soft, and since my four-wheel drive isn’t working, I didn’t want to get stuck once I got the motorcycle loaded.

That meant I needed a new plan. I decided I’d borrow a small trailer from my roommate, Jerod Horchem. I went to his family’s farm house and started to hook up, but then I realized the ball in my hitch was too big for the trailer. Luckily Jerod’s dad, Gary, was there. He said I could just swap out my ball for the one on his pickup.

I started to take my ball off, but the threads of the nut holding the ball on were damaged. This meant it took forever to get the ball off, and it never turned easily. I had to fight it the whole way.

Eventually, though, I got the smaller ball onto my pickup and the trailer back to my house.

I drove the motorcycle onto the trailer and began to tie it down with straps. I had six straps to use. I used the two my dad, Steve, had let me borrow the last time I was home, and I began to attach the others, which were Jerod’s.

The problem was, the straps Jerod had bought were cheap. I broke two of them right away as I was trying to tighten them down. When one of them broke, it cause my wrist to slam down on the edge of the trailer. I still have a deep bruise from that.

At this point, I was beyond frustrated. A few choice words might have even come from my mouth. But I did get the bike loaded and tied down with the remaining two straps of Jerod’s.

That evening, on my way home, I had to stop in Ness City for a Relay For Life meeting.

On the way there, another strap broke. Then, after the meeting, yet another strap broke.

Pissed doesn’t begin to describe how I was feeling.

I decided to try to make it to Great Bend with just the two remain straps holding the bike on the trailer.

I made it, and I bought four-pack of ratchet straps to get me home to Canton. I also noticed my trailer lights weren’t working.


I said screw it and headed to Canton.

When I got there, I saw the ratchet strap I had put on the bike came loose. It was just hanging there off the back of the motorcycle.

Fantastic . . . . or a similar word, is what came out of my mouth.

I decided it wasn’t worth worrying about anymore at that point, so I went to bed.

The next morning, anxious about the test yet still ticked about the previous day’s events, I went out to the motorcycle and started it. It ran OK, and the lights and horn worked, which was great because I had to have all of those things before I could take the driving test.

I went to the DMV in McPherson and waited in line for 30 minutes, which didn’t help my state of mind.

When it was my turn, I went out and the examiner had me turn on my turn signals and brake lights. Everything worked. Then she asked me to sound the horn.

I hit the button.

No sound came out.

“Damn it!” I shouted be because I knew I was screwed.

The examiner told me I couldn’t test until it worked. She gave me the phone number for the DMV and told me to call her if I got the horn to work.

Being the mechanical genius I am, I loaded the motorcycle back onto the trailer. As I was tying it down, I punched the horn and tried the button one last time.

I worked! It honked!

I quickly called the examiner and told her I got it working, as I honked the horn into the phone.

She said that was great and I would have to honk it again when she got out there.


As I waited for her to come back outside, I kept the key on and continually hit the horn with my hand and honking the horn.

When the examiner came out, I honked the horn loudly, and she cheered for me.

She told me I was good to go, so I started my bike.

Except, I didn’t start it.

I hit the ignition button, but nothing happened. It didn’t even turn over.

I had ran the battery dead honking the horn.

F . . . fantastic.

I began to push the bike back toward my trailer, but then I had an idea. I let go of the clutch and it turned over.

Hope surged through my veins.

I pushed the bike faster and popped the clutch again.

It started!

Again the examiner cheered for me because she could see how much trouble my bike was giving me.

I went back to the starting line and prepared to begin the test, though the motorcycle clearly wasn’t running right judging by the sound of it.

Regardless, I was there and was hell-bent on taking the test.

The test consisted of four parts: a five-cone weave; a straight-line, timed balance drive; a sudden stop; and a speed-sensitive swerve.

After the first two portions of the test, I had missed so many points I couldn’t miss any more if I wanted to pass.

I nailed the sudden stop, but I messed up the swerve.

I failed.

Fu . . . . fudge.

The examiner said she felt really bad, and she said she knew it was because of my bike. She told me I could come back the following Tuesday to try again, so I loaded my motorcycle in defeat and headed home.

On the way home, because the trailer lights still weren’t working, I took a less-traveled highway.

Bad idea.

The road was closed.

I backtracked and went on home.

I spent the most of that day and the rest of the weekend in a red mist of anger.

DJing helped lighten my mood, and Monday my dad and I set up a practice course in the yard.

I did well then, so I was feeling better about Tuesday’s test.

Tuesday morning I went out and tried to start the motorcycle as it sat on the trailer.

It didn’t start.

“Not again,” I said out loud between clenched teeth.

I went back into the house and sat down in frustration.

As I sat there, a thought occurred to me. I had left the bike in gear when I shut it off so it wouldn’t roll.

I went back out to the bike and put it in neutral. I hit the ignition button.

It started!

I revved the engine for a bit, and then I took off for McPherson with motorcycle in-tow.

At the DMV, I unloaded the bike and went inside to check in.

After a brief, 15-minute wait, I was ready to start the test.

I did well. Tons better than the first try.

I only missed three points.

I passed and earned my motorcycle license!

I was thrilled! I couldn’t wait to hit the open road on two wheels.

But I won’t be hitting the road on the Honda’s two wheels.

I bought a bigger, better motorcycle. I bought a 2004 Kawasaki Vulcan 1600.

Below is a picture of my new baby.

I will see you on the road.

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About toddvogts 843 Articles
Todd R. Vogts, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of media at Sterling College in Kansas. Previously, he taught yearbook, newspaper, newsmagazine, and online journalism in various Kansas high schools, and he ran a weekly newspaper in rural Kansas. He continues to freelance as a professional journalist from time to time. Also, Vogts is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), the Journalism Education Association (JEA), and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), among others. He earned his Master Journalism Educator (MJE) certification from JEA in 2022. When he’s not teaching or writing, he runs his mobile disk jockey service and takes part in other entrepreneurial ventures. He can be reached at twitter.com/toddvogts or via his website at www.toddvogts.com.

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