Thursday, July 15, 2010

How I became a ‘biker’

Recently I was asked by a ‘friend’ on facebook about riding a motorcycle. I actually was out riding when I saw the post. Her question was more about what ‘thrill’ did I find in riding- but her question brought back a flood of memories from being a novice rider to where I am now.

Many, many years ago, I had a bike, a Honda- it was a small bike, a 350 , maybe a 500- but nothing huge. I was told that it was not ‘ladylike’ and it was highly encouraged that I sell the bike. Bowing down to pressure, I did just that.

It was many many years later that I wanted to ride again. My ex had ridden for years and had bought my son a Buell and my daughter a Harley Sportster. He had an Ultra Classic, and when Matthew and I would come visit they would take off and ride. I often asked what was I supposed to do, and the answer was, ‘be the chase car’. Now, for those of you who know me, what about my personality screams chase car????

I had decided I wanted to ride again and started to look at bikes in New Jersey, where Matt and I were living so he could play high level hockey and I could make lots of money. I remember going to the Harley dealership in Essex County NJ- it was a small, dark dealership with not alot of bikes- I remember this man who looked like the leader of the Hells Angels came over to help me- he smelled like grease and an old ashtray- he was intent on putting me on a Fatboy. I told him I would think about it and get back to him. It was then I had an epiphany- I mean REALLY! Why would I buy a bike in Jersey- home of potholes galore....

Shortly after my shopping trip, we relocated to the Raleigh-Durham area. Our first weekend here there was a big open house and chili cook-off at the local dealership. We mapquested the route and went to check it out- What a difference! This was a bright, airy dealership with a lot of people working- no foul smells or scary salesman. I got info on Riders Edge© class and checked out some bikes. The people were very friendly and inviting. I went back a few days later and purchased a sportster and learn to ride classes. The class was great, and I was riding quickly.

I had hoped that in buying my bike I would be able to get out and meet some people- my life for 14 years had been hockey- my social circle was hockey parents- and being the only divorced mom, was kinda like a fifth wheel. I checked out rides close to my home and the local HOG group. I would ride locally and with Matt, but I was still looking for something.

About a month in was bike week in Myrtle Beach. Matt had decided to spend a week in Tennessee, so I was going to be home alone. I checked my work schedule and decided to take off to Myrtle Beach. Alone. Solo. After making a prepaid reservation ( hear NON REFUNDABLE) and getting the dog to the kennel, I packed everything I needed in my t-bag, got mapquest to get me a route that did not include interstates and off I went.(Let me say at this point, according to mapquest this ride should take 4 hours, and was 202 miles.) I remember pulling out of Durham doing about 47 mph down Hwy 55 with a speed limit 55 or 60. Cars were NOT happy with me. But I was becoming comfortable with my bike and myself. I followed the directions and took my time albeit anxious and excited to get to Myrtle Beach. While I was enjoying my ride, I realized the day was escaping me...I left at 3, why was it getting dark? I plugged on learning two important rules. 1- Even riding at night, you need glasses on- clear lenses preferably. and 2- Taking SC route 22 is dark- I mean DAMN DARK.....and not my favorite route. I made it to Myrtle Beach - and arrived safely 8 hours after I left my house- but I had done it! I rode from Durham to Myrtle Beach! I found the hotel, locked up my bike and checked in. Visine was my friend that night. The next day I rode around areas of Myrtle that I knew- which really wasn’t much. I cruised the beach and stopped at a cool little bar and watched other bikers ride by. I cruised down to the Harley shop and checked a few things out, and hung out at the hotel- see, I didn’t know where the cool bars were or what was going on- On Sunday, I began the trek back home and am proud to say it only took me FIVE hours! I ran into a rain storm and got to experience riding in the rain- a first. The trip was a catharsis for me- I learned I am capable of anything I put my mind to.

Within a few months, I met a special guy through a biker site and began riding with him. We have ridden to the beach, taken our bikes to the mountains and ridden the Tail of the Dragon, have taken multiple day trips to the Blue Ridge Parkway, and ridden to Williamsburg- which was very cool- we took our bikes on a ferry! In between, I upgraded my bike to a Harley Deluxe , and have a whole new perspective on riding-

which gets me back to what Sarah asked me- what was the ‘thrill’ of riding- and this is how I answered her:

I saw your message while we out riding this afternoon, and I wanted to give it some thought before I answered- There really isn't a 'thrill'- I reserve that more for riding a roller coaster or skiing down a hill. Riding for me is more of a passion- it is enjoying the faint smell of rain or fall in the air, noticing the groundhog on the side of the road , feeling the breeze on my face. It is also about control- and the fact that I am in control of roughly 750 pounds of steel, chrome and rubber and I make it go. Its about riding through the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Tail of the Dragon or down the beach boulevard.

As far as putting my life at risk- I do that every time I get in my car, walk across the parking lot at the mall or work in the trauma room with a violent or crazy patient. Some risks I choose not to take are smoking- that will shorten my life span, jumping out of a perfectly good airplane, or going diving hundreds of feet under the sea. Everything we do has inherent risks- it is just those we accept to take.

I met Mark through riding bikes, and it is more than an activity to go from point A to point B for us-it is planning a destination, it is personalizing our bikes to suit our personality, it is admiring others bikes when we stop.

As a trauma nurse, I am reminded too often that we aren't guaranteed tomorrow- so I try to make the most of my days- and that happens to include riding.

I guess the best way to say it is "four wheels move the body, two wheels move the soul.'

So, that is how I became a ‘biker’. And I am so glad I did......


driving school cheltenham said...

Travelling broadens the mind - it gives you insight and understanding into other cultures which can only be a good thing. I wish that I could travel far more but I can't afford it!