Motorcycle riding with pro racer Elias Corey
Suzuki demo, bike giveaway are new at Air Show this weekend
Im not necessarily a thrill seeker. I avoid big roller coasters. Swore Id never bungee jump, zip line or skydive. Unlike my extended family, you wont find me scaling mountains.
No, heights arent my thing. But speed is something else. Yes, I apparently have a need for speed. So when given an invitation to hop on a motorcycle with professional racer Elias Corey, I couldnt refuse.
With his bleached blond hair and huge smile (who prefers hugs to handshakes), he looks more like a laid-back surfer than an international motorcycle racer and pilot a member of an elite group of aviation competitors who train with the USA National Aerobatic Team and Russian Aerobatic Champions.
This weekend, Corey will bring his love of jets and motorcycle racing to the Oregon International Air Show in Hillsboro, the annual mid-summer event that draws thousands of spectators for adrenaline-pumping fun.
Corey has long partnered with Suzuki, but the international giant just became part of the performance aviation scene, so this will be the first time they'll be holding a motorcycle demo of this type at an airshow in Oregon or elsewhere.
This weekend at the Hillsboro Airport, anyone age 18 and older with a motorcycle license may check in at the Suzuki truck staged at the event, take a spin on any of the 25 models in the 2017 line of Suzuki, and be entered to win an electric-blue Suzuki VanVan 200, courtesy of Elias Corey Airshows.
With 100 demos each day, thats a 1 in 200 chance people will have to win a bike at the end of the weekend. Tempting, isnt it?
Back to my need for speed. I admit as a complete motorcycle novice I was a just a bit terrified, but as soon as we hopped on the giveaway bike, the VanVan 200, I was immediately at ease. The retro-looking bike cruises comfortably at about 40 miles per hour (topping out at around 70), so zipping around the wide-open air field, shut down for the weekend's activities, was sheer pleasure something I could imagine taking out for errands or even, say, a scenic ride down the Oregon coast.
Corey confirmed its a great entry-level bike, especially at a price of $4,599: Nothing but fun, reliable, versatile; you can use it for getting lattes on Sunday, he says.
Next came the real thrill: The high-performance, super sleek and sporty Suzuki 2016 GSX-S 1000, which is geared to top out at around 155 miles per hour and comes with anti-lock brakes and several modes of traction control.
Thankfully he kept it tame, it being a Wednesday, so we carved back and forth at a speed just exhilarating enough for me to break out my maniacal half-laugh-half-scream. He told me later we were only going 80.
These are extra fast, easy to ride," Corey told me. Of course he's been riding motorcycles since age 5, when his dad, a motorcycle racer, bought one for his birthday. At age 7 Corey started racing, also dabbling in motorcross, jet skis, anything fast. At 19 he went pro, and never looked back.
Now 46, Corey spends four days a week as a pilot and has homes in both Arizona and Venice, Italy, where he met his wife, who is leads their international trading company for motorcycles and fine wines.
Motorcycles being much more accessible to the average person than piloting their own plane, the goal for the demostration and giveaway this weekend is to give air show spectators something more to engage in besides just watching planes roar overhead, Corey says.
"It's about pushing the limit, in a self-development way," he says. "How can we do better, go faster in the sky. Suzuki engineers are pushing the limits with being the quickest, fastest; it's the same thing in flight."
It's funny how motorcycles don't seem so intimidating anymore. I left the airport with a strange desire to get a motorcycle's license and pick up one of those VanVan 200s, probably in red. There's something about adrenaline that just makes you crave more...
Visit Elias Corey and take a test ride at the Oregon International Air Show, set for Friday, Aug. 5 to Sunday, Aug. 7. For times, tickets and other details, visit oregonairshow.com.