We met as motorcycle enthusiasts, and 20 years later are riding again
|I met my future wife on the loading dock of a local mall. Not a place I would typically go to find a date, unless I was interested in an evening out with the guy who empties the dumpster. To be fair, he had a disarming smile and nice eyes, but…
She was driving a produce truck and I was a bread man. She had beautiful, long auburn hair and biceps that scared me. We shared a freight elevator and after much forced small talk on my part, discovered that we both owned 750 cc motorcycles. Small world! Hers was a V-twin , and mine an in-line 4 cylinder. That was a relief! Mine was faster. I don’t think that I could have dated a woman with a bike that was faster than mine. And at 105 pounds, I was nearly certain that I could beat her arm wrestling . Another prerequisite for the women I dated.
In the beginning, I would drive around the mall and see if her truck was at the dock and run my route out of order in an attempt to see her. I found out later she was doing the same thing for different reasons. If she saw my truck at the dock, she would leave and do her route out of order to avoid me. Turns out I did not make a good first impression.
I finally got up the nerve to ask her out, and in a purely sympathetic gesture, she acquiesced. Much to her surprise, I clean up nicely. Thank you Mennen Speed Stick! Turns out, like a cold sore, I grow on you.
So we dated. We rode and we dated while we rode. We became comfortable with each other on the road and off. I knew from the start that she was my soul mate. She wasn’t so sure and took some convincing. Some 20 years later, she‘s 98% sure.
Life was grand. Newly married, healthy, happy and riding whenever Minnesota weather would allow. We took numerous day trips and rode to work when we could. We put the bikes in the back of the pickup and drove to South Dakota to explore the Black Hills for a week. We rode in all kinds of weather and stored the bikes only when we were sure that the most recent snowfall would last until next spring.
Soon enough, life began anew. We had a daughter. Oh, she was our pride and joy. The cutest baby ever to enter into this world. She had a smile that would melt her daddy’s heart. Still does.
Despite what I had heard, children require nearly constant care. She couldn’t feed herself, she wasn’t housebroken, she was immobile(at first). She occupied all of our time. And try as I might, I could not find a government approved child safety seat to fit my motorcycle. We spent less time on the bikes, and even less time together on the bikes. We missed riding, but our priorities had changed.
And then, the unthinkable happened. My wife’s brother, a motorcycle enthusiast and Los Angeles motor cop was killed in a motorcycle accident. And it was purely an accident. He was a newlywed and his wife was pregnant with their daughter. He never met her.
The desire to ride was gone. Daily rides to work took on new meaning with the stark realization of our own potential mortality. My wife sold her bike immediately and a year or two later, mine was gone.
Fast forward nearly 12 years. Our girls are now 18 and 13. The oldest has chosen a college and is set to graduate High school in two months. The 13 year old is in 8th grade, soon to be in high school.
Now, arguably deep into our middle ages, we have bikes again. We have been talking about it and thinking about it and thanks to Craigslist, we are back on two wheels, each. We still see the danger inherent in motorcycling, but we are older now, and so are the girls. Not that we are ready to leave this mortal realm, but the fact is that at this age, our girls would be okay. I hope they would miss us, but teenagers are a finicky bunch.
After months of scouring the internet classifieds, I found my dream bike. It's an 1100 cc sport bike. This 23 year old bike can still scare me. A while later I found a 1981 650 that seemed like the perfect fit for my wife, both in performance and ergonomics.
Turns out, she likes the 1100 as much as I do. She would rather ride that. That’s not right. She’s a girl. She should be happy on a mild-mannered 650. She doesn’t speed. Why does she need all that power? I love going fast.
Is it wrong for a middle aged man to go 125 mph on a 23 year old bike? Of course. Was it outrageously fun and scary enough that I peed a little? Yes it was!
My bride speeds sparingly and prefers to enjoy the smooth, powerful engine and amazing cornering ability at legally posted speeds. She may reach 65 mph in 2.4 seconds, but she stays within the speed limit.
To keep us both happy, we now switch bikes at some point during our rides.
I must admit, I love the looks she gets when we pull up anywhere and she climbs off the 1100, takes off her helmet and leather coat, only to reveal her auburn tresses and obvious feminine traits.
Things have changed a bit for us where the riding is concerned. In our early days, we would just suit up and go. Now, it is more of a planned outing. First and foremost, the weather report. We scan The Weather Channel and local news for any hint of inclement weather. I am well past the idea of riding in the rain. If there is a chance of precipitation, we’ll wait. It should be at least 75 and sunny as well. If it’s less than that and cloudy, it’s too cold.
So we ride when we can, weather permitting, and that’s okay. We are too old to adhere to the biker code which states “anytime you can, ride!”
It has been a long journey back into the motorcycling world, but we are thrilled to be here. As we convalesce into our fifties and sixties and seventies, I see a move south into a warmer climate where we can enjoy our bikes to their fullest extent.
Maybe the kids, and potential grand kids will come south two or three times a year to visit. I bet the grand kids would love a ride on a bright red 1100 cc rocket!