Fresh oil, new plugs, rebuilt carbs, a clean gas tank -- I filled it full of gravel and gasoline and shook it like a maraca until all the rust was gone. Nothing. The warm sunlight fell on the pavement every day, and I was stuck with a 34-year-old monument to my immobility.
A description of the bike had become a repeating mantra in my head: 1972 Honda Scrambler CL350K5 350cc café racer. I was on fire for a $200 bike that was little more than a paperweight.
Then I reached a tipping point in my work. Over the course of several weeks, ever so slowly it started to come back to life. I'd been told it had been more than three years since it last started and it wasn't going to again without a fight.
When I finally got the Scrambler going, I rode it just a few miles with no plates, no license, no insurance and nearly flat tires. Not my smartest move, but, oh, how sweet the wind tasted on that first ride.
That's the kind of reckless adventure summer should be -- diving headfirst into something new and amazing, frightening and inspiring.
Summer adventures are always close at hand. Whether you take to the road, the air, the water or the horse track, there's always something new under the sun. The following are some of our favorites.
Skydive Greensburg reports that more than 4,200 brave souls took their first jump from one of their planes last year. For less than $200 and after more than three hours of training, you're strapped to the back of an instructor -- a tandem dive -- and take the plunge from about two miles up.
The anxiety building up to your first skydive might be more overwhelming than the actual dive itself. The freefall typically lasts a minute, and you experience about three minutes of flight using the parachute.
Call to join scheduled training sessions and jumps. Prices vary. Greensburg Municipal Airport, Greensburg, Ind. 800-SKYDIVE or skydivecincinnati.com.
A day at the races
If you're looking for something a bit less physically taxing, horse racing at Turfway Park is a way to mix it up with other race fans and glory in the thrill of thoroughbred racing. While there's a designated smoke-free area, most of the facility is cigarette- and cigar-friendly, delivering an intense, lively way to gamble that seems strangely family-friendly -- kids are welcome at any event -- when compared to the casinos.
About 36,000 people a month attend scheduled live races at the park and many thousands more come to bet on simulcast racing, which is most of what you'll find in the summer. 11:15 a.m.-11 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Free parking and admission. 7500 Turfway Road, Florence. 859-647-4705 or turfway.com.
If you have a taste for caving -- and by that we mean exploring wild caves, not the civilized, wheelchair accessible variety -- then your first stop should be the Web site of the Greater Cincinnati Grotto. The Grotto is a group of enthusiasts dedicated to cave exploration and conservation.
The first time I went into one of these wild caves was more than a decade ago. I froze on the rope I was descending as I was swarmed by about a hundred bats we'd disturbed on our way down. They left me alone and left the cave as we entered it.
Inside I saw some of the most spectacular scenery: centuries-old stalactites and tunnels sculpted by water and the movements of the earth. There's no quiet or darkness quite like what you experience in the depths.
Grotto meetings are held on the first Friday of every month at 7:30 p.m. Meetings are free, but annual membership dues apply. Meetings are held at UC's Lindner Hall, Room 112, on the main campus in Clifton Heights. gcgcavers.com.
Running in circles
The West Side's Western Rollerama delivers a vintage 1980s experience: an old-school roller rink with pop music from the Reagan era. High-gloss wooden floors and a level up from fast-food menu will keep you going through the night.
Bring your own skates or rent some from the house. 7:30-11:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Admission is $5-$7.50. 5166 Crookshank Road, Covedale. 513-922-4004.
Just shoot me
Dropping a few rounds into your friends can be an incredibly exhilarating experience. I have some great memories of skulking behind plywood barriers, rolling out Rambo-style and taking potshots at some of my buddies. Of course, the memory that stands out most is that I opted only for goggles and, thanks to a well-aimed paintball, was left with a bottom lip that swelled into the size of an orange.
Temporary war injuries aside, paintball is a great way to release that nervous tension, even if it does contradict your pacifist stance on the war. Northern Kentucky's Unlimited Paintball offers more than 10,000 square feet of indoor battlefield and enough ammo to keep you going all day long. Open Wednesday through Sunday. $15-$33 for all-day play. 8171 Dixie Hwy., Florence. 859-647-7255 or unlimited-paintball.com.
If Spider-Man 3 has left you feeling buggy, you might be itching to step into the hero's shoes and scale a building. There's a safer way to indulge that impulse -- local climbing gym Rockquest Climbing Center features more than 20,000 square feet of climbing surfaces as well as climbs that range from 18 to 80 feet.
Beginners are welcome and training is available, so anyone with a desire to conquer their fear of heights is welcome. Open daily. Rates start at $14 a day, with more for training. 3475 E. Kemper Road, Sharonville. 513-733-0123 or rockquest.com.
Up the creek
Canoeing can be one of the most serene physical activities around. It's a way to commune with nature, get some great exercise and cool off on a hot summer day. Thaxton's Canoe offers trips up to 21 miles along the Licking River in Kentucky. Day trips and overnights are available.
Open 9 a.m.-4 p.m., daily. Tubes are $10 and canoes are $15-$36 per person. Cabins available for $60 a night. At U.S. Route 27 and State Route 177, Butler, Ky. 859-472-2000.
If you've ever dreamed of racing stock cars or just can't get enough of Mario Kart, Competition Racing's go-kart races might be the diminutive way to go. The karts sit just inches off the ground but can reach speeds of 35 mph, and it feels like you're flying. There are two classes of races: a fast race for adults and something a little more sedate for kids 10 years and older.
Open 1-10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday. $15 per race. 891 Rudolph Way, Lawrenceburg, Ind. 513-564-8080 or competitionracing.net. Z