Why I Ride

Every once in a while, a well-meaning but kind of clueless stranger will learn that I ride a motorcycle, give off a dramatic shudder, and say, “Even on the highway? I would never be brave enough to do that.” I guess they consider it a compliment.

But I have to tell you, it has nothing to do with bravery.

It’s in the blood. Since I was probably three or four years old, I have longed for a motorcycle. My very first memory of a motorcycle is of a late-1980’s Heritage Softail, in beautiful candy-apple red, with fringed handgrips, fringed saddlebags, and a fringed saddle with conchos. The rider was wearing a black leather jacket with fringe. The deep, throaty rumble it made as it meandered along our street and the way the sun glared on the paint — ahh. Perfection. That memory is as imprinted upon my brain as is the image of my mother’s face.

I can’t help but ride. It’s my meditation, my serenity, my sanity, my exhilaration, my adrenaline, and my Prozac all rolled into one beautiful package of horsepower and wind. My family will tell you that in the winter when I can’t ride all the time, I go a little stir-crazy.

My family is a big part of why I ride. My grandpa and his brothers, my aunts, uncles, and mom, my dad, cousins, brothers, sisters, sisters-in-law, almost-brother-in-law, and my husband all ride. When I say it’s in the blood, I’m really not joking. We go on day trips, on long trips, we break down together, we stop and gather around the broken bike and chip in our two cents and then when we get it fixed, we go to the next town and find a diner and have some coffee and talk about the breakdown. According to some people, we are an imposing family. We also go through a lot of coffee that way.

My mama taught me how to ride. I spent a full day riding up and down the street by her house, pissing off the neighbors, figuring out when to shift gears and trying to coordinate my uncoordinated hands and feet so I wouldn’t crash and break my legs. The first time I ever went on the highway, I very nearly crashed and broke a lot more than my legs, but fortunately I recovered my brain in the nick of time.

I ride all year long. In the winter, I have two requirements: it should be above 30 degrees (preferably above 40, but I’m not that picky), and the roads should not be snowy. Yeah, it gets cold. But the ancient art of “layering” has served me well thus far, and the alternative is to be incredibly cranky, irritable, jumpy, angry for no good reason, and generally a cantankerous and miserable human being for three months out of the year.

There’s a thing called a “sucker hole.” I fall for them constantly. It’s what happens on a rainy/snowy/dreary day when the continuous cloud cover breaks for a minute, and glorious blue sky shines through. People like me jump on their motorcycles and head out, intending to just go for a quick ride. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been caught in the rain (and once in the hail) because I can’t resist a sucker hole.

So, for the strangers who think it’s brave or cool or whatever, all I can say is that if I have to explain it to you, you’ll never understand. For the rest of you – ride safe.

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2 Comments

  1. Diane Tadehara

     /  October 24, 2011

    You’ve got it girl! Your tag line is the motto of riding – ‘if I have to explain it, you won’t understand.’ Dr Richey doesn’t want me to ride before April, but then, he doesn’t understand. See you for a Christmas ride? πŸ˜‰

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