A Lifetime of Riding Motorcycles—Starting With a Honda CB400F Super Sport

Fit and healthy at almost 70 and still solo touring on a sportbike!

By Heather Bashow, Odessa, Ontario, Canada

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a lifetime of riding motorcycles starting with a honda cb400f super sport heather bashow
A lifelong motorcycle enthusiast, Heather currently rides this beautiful red, white, and blue 2014 Honda CBR500RA sportbike.

I bought my first bike, a four cylinder Honda CB400F Super Sport in 1976. I have always been attracted to motorcycles. My brothers had both owned bikes and it was almost a prerequisite that all my boyfriends rode. Few women were riding back then, but for me it seemed quite natural. My first ride brought to mind my first bicycle ride as a child, when I yelled to my dad and older brother who were supporting me from behind, “You can let go now!” and I heard from far behind me, “We did!” That feeling was freedom.

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I was living in northern Alberta at the time and had a friend who had the 2-stroke version of my bike. He and I would rip around together, racing on gravel roads, which definitely helped to develop my riding skills. We wore jeans and regular shoes, although I did have a helmet and leather jacket. Certainly not much protection had I dropped the bike.

Because my husband’s job required moving every few years, I rode that bike in several provinces, as well as Arizona and Colorado.

a lifetime of riding motorcycles starting with a honda cb400f super sport 1976
With the extreme heat in Arizona I often rode in sandals, a tube top, and shorts, which horrifies me now but back in the ’70s all my friends rode this way. This is my first bike, a 1976 Honda CB400F.

In 1990, my husband was posted to southeastern Ontario where we later retired. As I approached my 65th year in 2012, I thought I might be looking a bit foolish still riding as a senior, and my bike was no longer reliable. I was also riding on my own and concerned about breaking down so I never went very far. I felt it was perhaps time to grow up, so I sold my bike to a collector in Alberta.

However, I was unprepared for how much I would miss it. I am a photographer, so I decided to head to our local track to shoot some motorcycle racing. I immediately loved the genre, and found the community to be friendly and welcoming, and in a short period of time became friends with several of the riders.

a lifetime of riding motorcycles starting with a honda cb400f super sport Ducati Panagale
Trading a photo shoot of a friend’s beautiful new Ducati 1199 Panigale for a twisty and aggressive ride on the back of that bike made me realize that I need to have my own bike again or I would be making a fool of myself begging for rides on the back of sportbikes.

a lifetime of riding motorcycles starting with a honda cb400f super sport cbr500ra
The following spring I bought this 2014 Honda CBR500RA.

In this area, the only road planning is to get around all the lakes, thereby providing me with a mecca of twisty roads. And this nimble little Honda sportbike was born to eat them like candy. Very different than my 1976 café racer, I had to learn how to ride the CBR differently.

This bike needs to lean, and in riding with friends from the track, I have developed a strong passion for not being perpendicular to the road.

a lifetime of riding motorcycles starting with a honda cb400f super sport bmw s 1000 r
I love riding with fast friends, but my CBR500 is usually outgunned by 1000cc motorcycles like this BMW S 1000 R and Aprilia RSV4.

I still enjoy riding by myself. This fall, I am off to Europe for a nine day solo motorcycle tour, just before I turn 70 in December.

a lifetime of riding motorcycles starting with a honda cb400f super sport algonquin park
Since 2013, I have put close to 50,000 km on my bike, including two solo 3-day trips, to Algonquin Park-Huntsville, and Gatineau Park-Tremblant with only a tank bag jammed with camera gear, a toothbrush, and two changes of underwear.

When one door closes, indeed another opens. As sad as it was at the time, selling my 1976 Honda turned out to be the best thing! It led me to track photography, where as a senior I am still very relevant. It also led me to so many great friends and to me buying a bike I love like a friend. It used to surprise me that those in the track community will get in touch to ride with me, but then, age is not an issue when you share a passion.

Turns out I decided to not grow up. Riding brings a total focus and joy that is difficult to find anywhere else. I am very fortunate to be fit and healthy at this age, to have great fast riding friends, and to live where I feel safe riding on my own. I will ride until I feel I am no longer safe, but thankfully that time feels a very long way off.

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13 thoughts on A Lifetime of Riding Motorcycles—Starting With a Honda CB400F Super Sport

  1. Great story! I had a 1976 Honda 400F in Royal Blue. I, too, was sad when I sold it. I am currently 65 and have rebuilt my original 1982 “Minnesota” Magna 750 I bought in 1982. I also had bought a “barn find” exact same bike 1982 and it stopped running but only has 9100 miles on it. So I decided I have to ride and invest some money to get both running again.Your story invigorates and inspires me to ride into my 70s or however long God gives me the capability to do so.More power to you!These pics show both Magnas that a friend and I rode in May 2020.

  2. This is a wonderful answer to my question should I stop riding my bike because of my age 66 this Nov 18. But unlike most of you here, I didn’t get my bike for adventure. I wanted to learn because as young Police Ofcr I was tired of walking a foot beat in Georgetown, DC 24hrs a day I learned I could apply to Motorcycle school, I did, I got in, I passed and foot beats were mostly in my past. After 7yrs on MPDC, my then-husband and I applied to LAPD The traffic was horrific, we both decided to get bikes just for sanity My 1st bike was a Yamaha 650 great little bike but not enough power on freeways, I took 3 fwys to work and back. Anyway, with/for my divorce, I got a new “pretty” bike 85 Suzuki 1150e With retirement I had no place I had to be an began to ride less and less to where month would go by without riding I began to think it was because I was too old it was depression So thank you, Heather and others I will ride thru and out of my depression

  3. Awesome club. I love long distance riding also. Congratulations on being a road captain.

  4. Thank you for sharing your story Heather!You truly are a source of inspiration. I greatly enjoyed reading this!

  5. Thank you all so much for taking the time to comment on my article! I am thrilled you are inspired to keep riding because I know the joy and freedom it brings. I think when you give up riding by choice as a senior, you are essentially giving up on life. I laughed at one of your comments regarding reading and watching tv as a senior, and I couldn’t agree more. Only when I sold the first Honda did I ever allow society to suggest what I should be as a senior, and I immediately regretted it and bought my current ride. I am not one to try to prolong my youth with make up and mini skirts, but staying active in body and mind and keeping my passions in my life are what works to keep 100% quality in every day. No matter my age.

  6. Great article and much respect to you for being a solo traveler! At 54 I’ve been riding 10 years now, it’s great therapy and this is motivation to keep going. I’m a full patch member of the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club of Northern Virginia. We’re known for long-distance riding and as the sole female road captain in our chapter, my 2016 H-D CVO Street Glide SE serves me well and is up for any challenge.

  7. What a great inspiration to us “older” riders! I’ll be 64 very soon and took up riding again last year. I love it more now than ever. For me, the freedom and exhilaration of motorcycle riding can’t be beat. I ride a 2014 Honda CTX700 N. Bought this bike to see if I still like riding—and I sure do. I encourage all women to try riding if they’ve ever thought about it. It’s empowering in all aspects of life!

  8. You are not only beautiful, you are an inspiration to all the female riders who are seniors or approaching senior status. I’m 61 and have always said that so long as I can lift my Harley-Davidson Deluxe off the kickstand, I will ride. You have proven that age is truly just a number. Riding also gives me motivation to stay fit and strong, which you’ve clearly done. You are one cool chick! Ride safe wind sister!

  9. So inspiring! I’m 36 and just got my license. But this gives me hope that I will have 30 years of riding ahead of me!

  10. Great story! One that I can relate to. I thought for sure, in my 69th year of life, that it’s time I started to hang up the helmet and get ready to sell my Harley. How foolish it would have been! I thought about a couple of dear friends that have never been riders but enjoyed reading and TV watching in their retirements. Omg! I just couldn’t see myself doing that. Not that that is a bad thing, but having been back on two wheels ever since my retirement 10 years ago, I’ve been enjoying life on those two wheels. I’m going to be 70 in December and of course what do I do? Went out and bought a 2018 Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail with the new hotter-than-ever Milwaukee-Eight engine! Now that’s motivation for at least a couple more seasons, heaven willing.

  11. Great article and great incentive for me to keep riding. I’ll be 66 in one month and have been riding since the early 1970s. (Honda 400 street bike). Lately I’ve been wondering if it’s time to hang it up but I don’t think I’m ready. You are an inspiration!I’ve been riding big bikes (H-Ds and Gold Wings) for the better part of the last 25 years and I’m thinking of downsizing to something a bit smaller. I’m not tall, so seat height has been an issue. (The Gold Wing was way too tall.) I’ve stuck with H-Ds since selling that bike in 2004 due to the lower seat height available.Respect to you for traveling solo—something I don’t have the guts to do. Good luck to you and keep riding as long as you can!

  12. This is such a great article! What joy, freedom, and enthusiasm you convey to your readers, Heather. As a 65 year old rider myself, I am inspired to keep up riding for as long as I’m healthy, like you. I might not be a speed demon, but I do like to put miles on my 2016 Harley-Davidson Street Glide in long distance rides. 5,000 miles in one ride last year. I would love to hear about your solo ride in Europe too. Keep inspiring the “old” gals like me to stay in the saddle as long as we can. See you out there!

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