Updated : 06/29/2012 12:57 GMT + 7
The woman who brought me to Vietnam saw it on the website the New Hanoian, a kind of Craigslist for expats. Some guy was selling a motorcycle with a sidecar, and my bride, Herself, thought it would great fun—even if we hadn’t even tried a motorcycle without a sidecar yet.
“They’re easy to ride,” the Aussie told me. He did not want to sell it, he told us, but they were moving on to another foreign contract and he need to sell the three Uralmotos-with-sidecars he acquired in Vietnam. Why did he have three? “I just like ‘em.”
They’re easy to ride, he assured me. Easier than a motorbike.
“They can’t tip over,” he said.
“They’re really very stable,” his wife chimed in.
He took the big kids for a short ride. I suggested that Herself take it for a spin. The owner gave her a quick tutorial—throttle, clutch, brakes. As she slowly pulled away, our baby started to wail.
There were so many reasons not to buy the thing, Where would we park it? Was it really that practical? Didn’t it make more sense to buy a motorbike without a sidecar first.
We were about to leave when the Aussie suggested I take it for a spin. I didn’t want to. I just had a bad feeling about this. But for some reason (grow a pair?) I said, “Yeah.”
“I want to go!” my son said, hopping in the sidecar.
So then, without trying, I proved the Aussie wrong. My right hand was on the throttle. Suddenly there was a roar and the bike lurched forward.and my brain stopped working. Instead of turning left, the machine moved forward, pushing a Honda on its side, then moved right up the beveled curb and on to a hedge. I think I finally released the throttle was the contraption moved beyond a 45-degree angle. Can’t tip over, eh? My limber boy leaped to safety as the machine started to roll on top of me. A glass windshield on the sidecar shattered as asphalt collected about three square inches of flesh from my knee.
There was great excitement and I still wasn’t sure how it happened. I extricated myself as the Aussie righted the bike. Again our baby was wailing. “What happened? “One of the Aussie’s daughters asked. “Who was driving?”
“I was,” I said, a bit surly. My knee was bleeding. My lower back was hurting. The real carnage was to my ego. I held the crying baby to reassure him that I was fine and his brother was fine.
It isn’t easy to make a Uralmoto-with-sidecar go belly up, but I accomplished this remarkable feat in just a few seconds. The Honda, the curb and the hedge all helped. But in the ultimate analysis, it was I who did what was suggested to be darn near impossible.
As the Aussie drove us home, I was careful not to bleed in his SUV. How many millions of dong, I wondered, would it cost to replace the windshield. Or maybe the Aussie would say, no problem, mate, the insurance will cover it. But he never did.
Hours later, Herself asked me how I felt. “Humiliated,” I said. The feeling lingered as a visited the Aussie a few days later with a thick stack of dong notes to cover the cost of the windshield.
After all that, he still tried persuade me that life would be so much better with the machine that humiliated me. He offered me a deal..
I decided to pass. Several months passed before I bought an old Nuovo. But that’s another story. . .