Friday, October 16, 2009

WHY A MOTORCYCLE ???





When exactly do we realize our mortality? Surely it isn't in our teens when we are going to live forever as "super" beings. We are pretty certain in our twenties that we have the world by the tail. Energy flows from every pore and we test our limits daily. Thirty brings on the first scary thought that we might be susceptible to aging. Even though we still feel fine , just the word "thirty" smudges the images of youth. Forty however gives us a reprieve for we reach such mental stability then that we are sure there will be a cure for old age long before we really have to face it. Besides, we feel really good. Fifty is still good though there is a hint of urgency. We can pretty much do what we always did though our interests are a bit tamer. Then Sixty hits.



With my "sixty" came a diagnosis of cancer. At first I pretty much wrapped myself in the cold blanket of doom. Then days passed and I didn't. With each morning that I awoke and with each treatment that worked, I was able to shrug off that cold blanket. Pretty soon I was just living again and enjoying each day. One thing did become permanent though and that was the realization that if I had some dreams yet to fulfill, I'd best get cracking. Procrastination had to be stricken from my vocabulary. I started my bucket list.


I bought a computer and started clicking keys. I bought a kayak and started paddling, then I bought a camera and started snapping. Can't tell you when it hit but it hit hard. I wanted a motorcycle. That "want" ranked right up there with my childhood want of a horse. The romance of the open road, wind in your face(that is a pure hype if you wear all the helmet gear) and sense of freedom, became very powerful. I thought of little else. I had only been a passenger on a bike several times, never in control. Perhaps that was the real lure at that time in my life, being in control.



Not Dixie but could be her twin.


Having no idea how to ride, I bought a lightly used,1986 Red Honda Rebel which is a small but smart looking bike. Dixie,as I named her for she was too small and delicate for a guy name, wasn't even running but gosh she was pretty with really low miles. OK guys,I can hear your heads shaking over that last comment.

I am short legged and she fit perfectly. Must admit that I did a bit of sitting on her in the barn "VAROOMING." When that got old rather quickly, I trailered her to a bike shop. The owner had a sufficient number of tattoos to make me feel confident in his abilities so I left her. While she was in the hospital, I signed up for a Motorcycle Safety Course. Can't begin to tell you how excited I was.

I thought I would be in a class with a bunch of teenagers but surprisingly, I was not the oldest and the average student was in their 40's. My instructor was about my age. I will say right here, I have never seen anyone sit a bike like he did. His posture was impeccable. He made Chips guys look slovenly.

The bikes provided by the course were small 250's like mine. This was wonderful for me as they were the same size as Dixie, but brutal on a poor fellow student who was well over six feet. Sometimes his knees actually got in the way of his steering.





I was concentrating so hard on my turn that I did not know our class pictures were being taken.

Our class room was an abandoned shopping mall parking lot. It was early August in Florida and we were required to wear jeans, long sleeved shirts, gloves, above ankle boots and helmets. That would have been tough enough but we were also straddling engines that put out a bit of heat on their own. The heat was brutal and our deodorants usually never made it till noon.

I did well except for one exercise. When we practiced sharp, controlled turns, I would slow down so much that the bike started lurching and bucking like a crazed horse. They always yelled, "Speed up" but I could not make myself do it. I got to see what I looked like for another lady, much younger than I, had the same problem. Watching her was painful and she eventually quit the program in tears. I will give the class credit here, no one laughed, though it was funny enough looking.

Truthfully I had no idea I would pass the course as I never solved the bucking. I did pass, though I did not feel particularly good for I learned they never failed anyone. You pay your money, you get your license. However, I was no where near road ready. As our instructors said, we were now only qualified to ride in vacant parking lots. Fortunately I lived in a quite large 5 acre ranchettes subdivision. That was where I got my legs. I practiced and practiced, then practiced some more. Pure determined diligence got me road ready.

My first venture on a highway, nestled amongst the semis, was the most thrilling and terrifying thing I have ever done. Florida's straight as string roads with heavy, fast moving traffic are not the best for biking. Semis have a real appetite for bikes.

Moving to Arkansas was a blessing. Traffic here is minimal to nonexistent, the views are breathtaking, and the curvy roads are just plain fun. When weather is nice, the roads are humming with bikes. Also there are a lot of codgers on bikes. I am obviously not the only old soul with a bucket list.

I happily rode my little bike for 5 years. One day I had a scare when a sudden blast of wind forced my light weight bike right into the opposite lane. No, nothing was coming, but what if something had been? Just like that, my confidence was shaken and I wasn't able to get it back. I was almost 70 so I decided to sell Dixie. I felt perhaps I had pushed my luck long enough.

Luckily, she went to a good home. A mid fiftish woman who had just had her heart broken by a con man, bought her and rode her gently into the night. It was a perfect match. Dixie was given the best of care, was not ridden hard, and she gave that woman back her feeling of being in control. A real win/win. I have seen her new owner occasionally over the veggie racks while shopping. I saw her go from a heads down, mumbling person to someone with a bit of a strut. Atta girl Dixie.

I don't regret one minute I spent in biker mode. The thrills were plenty and fortunately I never laid her down. No bones were snapped and no skin grafts required. We had a grand affair.

Anything you have done that was maybe age inappropriate or perhaps a bit stupid but you don't regret?

22 comments :

  1. Dixie must have been a real patient bike. I never did do that but did get an itch when I was still in school. But we had no money and I had no job and the idea of getting a real job was so far out of my mind that I never got a good one until I joined the Army and later after being discharged I began to get good work. But by then I was married and soon had 3 kids one year apart. The two more at odd intervals.

    I admire anybody who takes a risk in anything or on anything. Right now, me with my lung problems, I would be taking a super big risk to even think about something I shouldn't do.

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  2. We bought a bass boat that exceeded 50 mi/hr (not boat talk which is in rpms) at an age we should have been slowing down. It was my deep longing to run with the big guys. We did get a lot of use out of it, but gas cost and age caught up with us and we downsized to a 30/mph safer aluminum boat. The boat doesn't catch the fish.

    My current dilemma is, along with my BEST friend we form many good projects with no back gate for us to exit when the project or we exceed our abilities to sustain it.

    We started a Xmas dinner. By about the 5th season it grew from 125 to over 400. We had plenty of donors but but need of volunteer help dwindled and we found no one to assume our positions. The year we folded the VFW took it over, but it is a similar problem for them as they do Thanksgiving and Xmas. And they are losing members to age witn no younger volunteers assuming roles.

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  3. Wonderful that you do so many things and brave too! You don't take things lying down and fight back to find something to enjoy in your life!

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  4. I am extremely impressed by you, my friend! You have pure guts! That's something I've never had. I'm not a risk taker...AT ALL! I don't travel or do anything new or dangerous, ever. It's just not me. I wonder if I'm missing anything.

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  5. Abe,
    A bike really is the dream of a young man. Sometimes life just takes over and it gets pushed aside.

    Nitwit,
    You are right, the boat doesn't catch the fish.
    Understand about your help with your dinners. My SIL works for a church that put on a huge sale every year. Right now at 71, she is the youngest.

    Reader Wil,
    Thanks Wil, but basically I am just a curious sort and something new is facinating, not intimidating. Think maybe Ijust don't know any better.

    Janie B
    You are only missing something if you think your are. Otherwise, you are fine. Do what makes you comfortable and happy.

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  6. I told you not to write anything good while I was away from my computer!! But you DID!

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  7. Great picture of you on the bike…do you not get training wheels to start with? I laughed at the criteria for a good mechanic was the amount of tattoos he had.

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  8. "You are only missing something if you think you are." Very good advice. I'll use that when people say, "Why don't you get out of the house for a change?"

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  9. Just finished reading your Trigger post...OMG....tears, tears, tears. !!! What a great story. No wonder you get my relationship with Cisco.

    The other horse power.....I learnt to navigate the roads on a 250 Suzuki road bike, can you beleive my mum said ok to a bike for my first 'car'!!??

    As for feeling of mortality....I have started thinking how short our lives actually are and I'm 36...maybe it is because both my parents died in their 50's.
    On my bucket list....to ride Cisco 600 kms to a place called Kalgoorlie. Why there??? Why not....it's not the journey but spending time with Cisco and my dogs before we are all too old.

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  10. kenju
    Aw, thanks Judy. I checked and it seems you are up an running now. Yea.

    Jewels,
    Oh, didn't I mention his rebel flag doo rag? Turns out, he had my bike for a month and couldn't fix it. I took it to a Honda dealer and he had it fixed in 3 hours. Guess tats and doo rags aren't a good way to judge a mechanic:)

    Betty,
    Ah, I just love it when people who mean well are convinced their way of life should be mine. Be comfortable and happy, you can't go wrong.

    Amanda,
    Reading about you and Cisco, I see a lot of myself. Our horses are way more than just a horse to us.
    Love your choice of a looong ride. Sure hope you do it.
    I once knew a guy who rode horseback across the US from Florida to California. He took two horses and a dog. I really envied him. He said he met the nicest people.

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  11. Dear Patti, how wonderful you were able to accomplish something like learning to ride a motorcycle. I've only ridden on one, once, during a thunder storm, back then you didn't wear helmets, I was never so glad to get home (about a 20 mile ride) in my life. I was around 17. Wasn't my cup of tea then or even when I got older. I admire you for taking the classes and doing something like that.

    My older of my two brothers, and he's still younger then me, he just turned 65, got his license this past summer. He now owns two cycles. His wife loves riding with him on the larger one. I told him she should learn and ride the smaller one. She's around 56.

    Every so often I would love to put on a pair of roller skates and go to a rink, but afraid at almost 73, I might break a leg or hip and I don't want to recuperate from that.

    So just call me a big ole chicken. Your blogging friend, Patty

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  12. I say Bravo to you for doing all the things you always wanted to do! It takes courage and a strong motivation. For myself, I am Chicken and always have been...things like skiing and motorcycling, etc just hold no romance for me...And it may be I know too many bad and sad stories connected with these kinds of what-I-call Dangerous things---My brother had a simple accident as a 15 year old---His bike slipped on sand left over from the winter snow time--He lost a couple of front teeth and was very bruised--that he did break something besides his teeth, was a miracle....THAT did it for me...lol!
    I have to give your question some thought...but right off the top of my head I cannot think of anything....And maybe it's because of what I said at the beginning--I AM CHICKEN! LOL!

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  13. I like you so much more right this minute I can't even tell you.
    I had mototcycles as a kid and then when I was 50 at a garage sale for $250.00 an old 1975 360 Honda was for sale that didn't run. But the owner said it did 10years earlier. On whim I bought it, a new battery, new gas, new gas filter, new spark plugs, and she fired right up. I rode that litte bike all that summer. Then in early fall at another garage sale was a 750 magnum v4. It ran but had a carb that leaked gas. $500.00 I duc taped a rag around the carb. And drove it home. My wife followed me with the fire extinguisher. Fun - fun times. She sits in my garage with a bad cylinder at the moment - haven't ridden her for at least a year. Only one broken arm. She will ride again though.

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  14. Hi Girlie, I love your story---and your desire to keep living and reaching for the stars after your cancer scare. Do you still have a bucket list????

    The thing I want most desperately to do is to be physically able to continue hiking and checking out waterfalls. I need to get some of the weight OFF --so that my body will 'allow' me to be more active. I was able to hike down and up 1200 steps on Wednesday--but I really felt it on Thursday... Mercy!!!!

    Hugs,
    Betsy

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  15. Best do it while you can cause there may come a time you can't that's for sure. Great story.

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  16. HA you rock lady!
    Our kids were teenagers and toddlers and I was loosing my mind. SO I took horseback riding lessons, fell in love and bought a hore! had NO idea what I was doing and thankfully in the two years I had him he brought me great therapy, bucked twice and stayed on like a real rider, and taught me I could do it!

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  17. Patty
    Your brother and his wife are now days the largest group of bikers. Boomers love to ride. Something about turning 65. Gee roller skating sounds fun, guess my bones are lucky there are no rinks around here. It might be fun just to watch.

    OOLOH
    If you bike or horseback ride long enough, you will get hurt. They are high risk sports. My SIL was killed riding behind my brother when a drunk driver hit them. The odds of surviving a crash aren't with you.
    You aren't Chicken, you just do what makes you comfortable and happy. We all do.

    Grayquill,
    Such a deal you got. Dixie was similar. The guy had bought her for his wife and after she went around the block twice, it stayed in his garage.
    That was too funny(yet scary) about you wife following you with a fire extinguisher.
    Hope you keep riding and as bikers say "ABC". Always be careful.

    Betsy
    Most of the big things are done from the bucket list, now it is time to tackle the small ones and to add new as I think of them. Never want to let it get empty.

    You and Geroge don't need one. You live out all your wants. You go girl.

    Linda
    It is that very reason why I have stricken procrastination from my vocabulary.

    boots,
    Aren't horses wonderful. They give us so much for just some care in return.
    It is a real confidence builder to get out of your comfort zone and realize, "You CAN do it."

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  18. Hahaha always always ...anything your keyboard transcribed tickles me pink. What a woman!

    Like that "romance in the open road"... may I add?

    What about flirting with the wind and dancing with the stars?

    Ah Madam Patti. In few winks time, I will be in a qualifying mood into the Sixties too! I can't even ride a bike!

    I am hopeless! But not the least I regret. I can do better with walking because at my age, I still walk very very fast, my daughter always complains.

    Such is life. C'est la vie.

    Glad Dixie found a new heart I mean a new home.

    Take care and cheers!

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  19. Dixie we have something in common....I started riding a bike in 87 I had my brother in law go with me and I bought a 550 honda 4 stroke from a guy...my husband who had a big gild wing bike would not go with me to buy it because he said I could never learn to ride...I still remember he laughed and said "You can't even ride a bicycle well," which was correct......he had ridden a big gold wing for a few years.. I rode behind when he wanted me to...


    Well I got that bike and it sat high not like a rebel, I could not touch the ground even on tip toes with both feet...
    I rode it 500 miles around my neighborhood...which was about like 3 acres, I would start off, shift to 1st, shift to second, back down to first and by then I was at a stop sign..I would make a right or left go down a block and do my shift pattern again...
    after 500 miles I took the safety class on one of those little rebels...I passed fine...I then rode my 550 honda another 3K miles and took the licens test ...I made 100% on both written and driving and I had a broken toe on my right foot..then..I bought a Big gold wing, I had the seat chopped three inches and then I could touch both toes on the ground at the same time...I continued to take the safety class every year but then they let me ride my wing. When I sold 'ole Grey it had almost 100K on it...When my oldest girl was 14 we got her a 500 rebel...it was a cute bike...

    When I had to get a new drivers license this year I checked to make sure it still had the motorcycle ok on there....you never know...I have been eying a sportster for years now...

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  20. Bonnie bonsai
    Glad I found your funny bone. There is a romance of the open road,with the freedom and thrill. Nothing like it.
    Glad you are walking your daughter into the ground. You go girl.
    Biking is fun but walking adds years to your life.

    4th sister
    Ah yes, you started riding when Dixie was a year old. Proud of you to sticking to it when it wasn't easy. A bike that fits makes a big difference. When we graduated our course, we were automatically granted our license.
    I just renued my license and thought I would take the motorcycle endorsement off but decided to keep it. You never know.
    The Sportster looks like a Rebel on steroids. Nice looking ride.

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  21. I don't regret telling you that the background of your blog is motorchick unworthy.

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  22. TCBD
    Considering that is NOT what I was going for, I succeeded and life is good. Hope you feel better soon.

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