The Charlie Bravo Story

Black Molly

The Honda 750 Sidehawk.
Many of the things that have little worth to others seem to find their place at the Casa, and this applies to motorcycles as well. Bikes have always played a big role in Charlie’s story, as it was a motorcycle incident that put us on the right trajectory to find her, and she actually chose her name, Charlie Bravo, based on the Honda CB motorcycles that we were riding at the time. She has since crossed the country on a CB1100, a CB500X, a CB900 among others, but somehow we keep rolling back to the CB750 Nighthawk.
The Nighthawk is not an especially sexy or fast bike. It’s a bit dated even, remaining unchanged through it’s entire production from 1991 to 2003. But it always does everything asked of it with very little fuss or bother; it’s basically one of the those perfectly capable motorcycles that society seemed to bypass in it’s insane rush for the latest shiny, sparkly thing.
Which may be the reason I love them so much, as she reminds me of Charlie’s story. Whoever dumped Her Highness on the side of the road back in 2014 obviously thought that her time of usefulness was over.I often think that this is part of the reason that the story resonates with so many of us, as we can relate; we go through life doing what is asked of us only to find ourselves eventually looking out of a crate of perceived obsolescence. Might be a career, could be a marriage, might be a religious situation, it all boils down to allowing someone else to define our worth at any given time. Have you noticed that even the advertising on whatever programming you ingest is heavily saturated with hemorrhoid medicine or wrinkly life insurance offerings? Is that how they view me, or more importantly, is this how I allow them to convince me to view myself?
Well, Charlie wasn’t ready to step aside, I wasn’t either, and I have every faith that neither are you; and neither is Black Molly.
Molly is a 1992 Nighthawk, that’s old enough to be considered an antique by Arkansas DMV standards. But even at her age and mileage, she still runs as quietly and efficiently as a sewing machine, not necessarily qualities sought after by your everday “biker”, but these attributes suit us just fine.
When Charlie’s ability to leap up on a bike began to be compromised, the thought of a sidecar build entered the conversation. While Nighthawks are not known for being used as the power plants for sidecars, the best ability is availability, and as Molly was waiting patiently in the Cave Canem, the Sidehawk was conceived. You would think that a middle-aged bike would have some issues when being asked to deal with a 200# appendage being attached to her right side at this late stage of her life, but if you did think that, you would think wrong. After numerous road trips to the Texas Sidecar Company and a learning curve for all concerned, the bike and the hack are no longer twain but of one flesh.
Taking the Sidehawk on a multi-day camping trip out west made both perfect sense and no sense at all; you can cover so much more ground on a conventional bike, but just think of all the people you get to meet when you roll up on a shiny black rig with a pompous little dog? It became a no brainer; Black Molly and the Duff were going to the Rockies.
And from driving sleetstorms in the valleys to snow piled in the mountain passes, she did a phenomenal job, even when coerced into doing things that no sidecar rig based on a street motorcycle should ever be asked to do. Although the conditions that we faced on our last day in Colorado did have me as concerned as I have ever been on any of our “adventures”… who am I kidding? I wasn’t just concerned, I was absolutely scared sheetless; it’s a good thing I had packed a sleeping bag. Stay tuned, as this day will be the subject of Friday’s post.
So, what does all this motorcycle talk have to do with Charlie’s message? While change is sometimes difficult, it is always harder after a certain maturity has been achieved. But that doesn’t mean that change is bad. We can make of it what we will and keep on rolling…
…just ask Black Molly.

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