Portions of this post were taken from a story I wrote on a blog within a music artist’s fan page back in 2009…when I was married and still in possession of a Harley-Davidson trike. I’ve updated it to the present tense, but the people, places and events remain the same.
In my former life as a biker chick, March was a difficult month for me. It signaled the beginning of spring, but March was also on the downhill slope toward biking weather. Mr. Biker and I began our dreams of impending travel unconfined by surrounding steel and glass, with wind in our hair, sun in our face and dead bugs pasted to the front of our leather jackets. OK, so the dead bugs don’t sound so great, but it’s all part of the ride, man! Being on a bike encompasses so much more than sun and good weather. That’s what you always hope for, but along with the good, you have to take the bad and the ugly.
The good of being on your scooter? The glorious, beautiful days when the sky is blue, there is no wind and temps are hovering around 80 degrees. Perfect day for a ride! There is ecstasy when you take the first ride of the season and the smell of spring hits you like a brick wall – mud and dirt, budding leaves, new grass, fresh air – you take a huge breath in and almost refuse to let it go. Riding on a motorcycle gives you smells and senses that you just can’t get in a car – not even with the windows rolled down. Mr. Biker and I had many good adventures over a period of 15 years. We visited most of the country on our bikes, planning how we would get to Alaska, Hawaii and California before age got the best of us and we put the Harley away for good. (Sadly, divorce took care of that.) One of my fondest memories is riding side-by-side (when we both had our own Harley) down a very open and less-traveled highway in North Dakota. It was one of those beautiful 80 degree days that you don’t want to end. My head was silently shouting, “I could go on like this forever!” It’s a feeling of freedom from life and responsibility that doesn’t happen too often. It’s pure enjoyment, a mix of Mother Nature and rumbling iron. It’s also an opportunity to laugh at the guy in the pick-up truck in North Carolina who had a trailer and lawn mower attached, with the #3 prominently displayed in his window. He passed us doing about 60 m.p.h. on a curvy road in a no-passing zone. Is this a NASCAR race or what? That memory is from another lovely trip to The Smoky Mountains and surrounding areas.
Then, of course, there’s the bad: Riding in 40 and 50 degree temps; eating a bug or two (protein); avoiding box turtles sitting in the middle of the road or deer who deem it necessary to cross your path; having concrete blow up underneath the bike; almost running out of gas because the only thing you’ve passed on the 60 mile stretch of destitute road is a cemetery; road construction and potholes; getting caught in Friday 5 p.m. traffic in Chicago and Denver. I could go on, but you get the point by now. Funny thing, though, is that we could take the bad and somehow turn it into an adventure, an event to talk and laugh about later.
Lastly, there’s ugly…dangerous ugly. I will never forget being on the interstate in Nebraska during a rain storm. I am on the back of our first Harley with Mr. Biker and we are in the middle of a pouring rain event. The rain is coming down in buckets. Heavy buckets. My head is down and the rain is sheeting off my helmet with such force that I can barely see. I’m wondering how Mr. Biker can see. Cars are pulling off to the side of the road. When I yell “Can’t you pull over?,” Mr. Biker responds with “Where?” We are miles from the nearest overpass which would have given us a dry spot to land. I’m still wondering how Mr. Biker can see in the pouring rain. I try to look up and then it happens. Lightening strikes 10 feet in front of the bike. Mr. Biker said later that he felt it in the handlebars. I then start praising God (“Oh God, Oh God, Oh God!!”) and wondering if we are going to make it to safety before anything else happens. The rain continues to poor and I continue to praise God until we finally make it to an overpass. Two minutes later, the rain stops. We empty our boots, and I ask Mr. Biker how he could see the road in the pouring rain. His reply? “I kept my eyes on the white line because I couldn’t see in front of me.”
Oh Mother of . . . . .
The good and great ending to the story is that we stayed that night at a Holiday Inn complete with a hot tub, pool, and a wonderful seafood buffet that included free beer. I don’t remember much after the free beer except that I slept like a baby and the sun was shining in the morning. We headed toward home, another adventure almost at an end, another great biker story to tell.
The moral of this story? 1) Enjoy your life on a motorcycle, a bicycle, in a red convertible, or partaking in whatever activity brings a smile to your face and lightness to your heart. 2) Don’t worry about the bad and the ugly as long you stay safe. They make for great stories and a laugh or two later. 3) I miss the motorcycle.