Stories

The Five Whys: Aaron Giddings

South Dakota resident was influenced to ride by short-lived 1980s animated series

Aaron “Senior” Giddings is a Software Test Engineer living in South Dakota with his extremely patient wife, their five children, and three rowdy kittens. He is the voice behind the Sticks, Stories, and Scotch blog and can be found on Twitter as @AMGiddings

READ MORE: Check Out More Five ‘Whys’ Tales

When did you start riding?

Almost exactly two years ago. I took my MSF class on the Saturday and Sunday of June 11-12, 2016, showed up at my local DMV to add a motorcycle endorsement to my license on Monday morning, and picked up my motorcycle for my first official ride that afternoon.

Why did you start riding?

That’s a little tough to explain. I’ve always liked motorcycles – I grew up with “CHiPs” and “M.A.S.K.” on the TV (I will never cease to be amazed how many riders were influenced by “M.A.S.K.” I can’t remember whether I ever actually watched that show –CC), and a few half-remembered recollections of my father riding a motorcycle briefly when I was young.

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Strangely influential

Living in Washington state and commuting, I would watch enviously as the motorcycle riders zipped by traffic on I-405 via the carpool lane. But it wasn’t until I moved to South Dakota and changed industries that anything really happened. Maybe it was the wide-open roads, lack of traffic, and job change that got me.

The funny part is that I started by shopping for a fun little two-seat roadster. My wife didn’t like the idea of my commuter vehicle not being able to fit at least 3/5ths of our kids, but she also suggested I look at a motorcycle instead. As any married man should know, if your wife ever suggests you do something that is expensive, slightly dangerous, and has no major benefit to her, you go do it as quickly as you possibly can before she can change her mind!

What bike/bikes do you own?

A 2008 Harley-Davidson 1200 Sportster Custom, with a few tasteful engine upgrades and touring accessories, and one very silly tachometer.

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Aaron’s Harley-Davidson Sportster. There appears to be a riot taking place down the street.

Why did you choose that bike?

When I started looking for a first bike, I made a list of everything I wanted:
– Enough power to haul my 200-pound frame at highway speeds without problems.
– Not too much power to scare me and put me off of riding.
– Range and capacity for light touring.
– Fuel injected.
– Used, so I wouldn’t feel quite as bad when I inevitably dropped it.
– $7,000 USD or less.
– Room on the back for my kids to ride pillion.

RELATED: 2013 Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Custom – First Ride

That criteria covers a lot of different types of motorcycles. However, when I saw this gorgeous blue, barely-broken-in Sportster – and heard that angry, burbling exhaust note – I knew she was The One. It didn’t occur to me until a lot later that I’d inadvertently become a stereotype: a middle-aged banker with a Harley.

I don’t care though, I’m having too much fun! Haters gonna hate!

What bike do you dream of owning?

How about bikes – plural – because I dream of three: A Ducati 998, A Harley-Davidson 1942 WLA, and a new Harley-Davidson Road King Special.

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2018 Harley-Davidson Road King Special: one of Aaron’s three dream machines.

Why do want those bikes?

I love the idea of sportbikes, I just wouldn’t want one as a daily rider. Too much temptation to go very fast and end up with a “Performance Driving Certificate” from the nice folks patrolling the freeways. But I’d love to go do track days. My affinity for this specific Ducati model can be blamed squarely on The Matrix: Reloaded, but really any high-performance bike would do.

RELATED: Thoughts on Riding Track From a Guy Who Doesn’t Ride Track

The WLA is simply a case of wanting a classic. It’s a bike that begs to be ridden in city parades, and on back country roads at sunset. Plus, they’re still almost affordable.

The Road King Special though, is what I dream of replacing my Sportster with. It’s got everything that my Sporty has, and more: more power, longer range, more storage, and cruise control. It’s also the only bike in H-D’s touring line that isn’t loaded down with fairings, entertainment systems, and other things I don’t need or want. The Road King is a massive, primal brute that makes the rider feel like he or she is sitting astride a road-going locomotive!

What’s the best motorcycling adventure you’ve had so far?

My Bun Burner 1500 Iron Butt ride in 2017.

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Guess which country Aaron lives in.

Why was it so special to you?

I’ve wanted to do an Iron Butt ride since reading about it years ago. Distance riding appeals to me. Then again, I’m training to run marathons, so I’m clearly not right in the head. But I’m used to discomfort and boredom as regular traveling companions.

Completing my first Iron Butt – on the one-year anniversary of getting my license – with two other members of my local H.O.G. chapter as we traversed a big chunk of the upper western United States, was kind of magical.

Where do you dream of riding?

Italy

Why?

Blame too many “Top Gear” specials, but I want to take a Ducati, or a Guzzi, and carve through some of those twisty mountain roads, ending my day with a big plate of local pasta and several glasses of a red wine I won’t be able to pronounce. Some day…

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There’s some nice riding to be found in Italy.