Stories of Two Wheels
The first time I was ever on a motorbike I was 15 years old. My best friend’s boyfriend had offered to take me for a ride around our Home Town. I loved it. The power. The freedom. The exhilaration. The different view of the world.
I once talked my partner into driving 1200km round trip with a trailer to pick up a bike that had been in storage (ie. in the back shed of my childhood home) for 10 years. It was my aunt’s x’s. The hardest part was getting it into the trailer. Think about it. I hadn’t. I was devastated to get it home only to be told it was not worth fixing.
I know just how dangerous riding bikes can be. An x lost his older brother as a teen in a bike accident, and his cousin’s leg was permanently damaged in a separate accident. I heard horror stories in training. Friends have had accidents. There is not a lot between you and the road.
One of my favourite coffee shops is loved not only because I walk in and my barista knows what I have without asking (he even remembers I like two cups), but because they have a Ducati on display and I get to read motorbike magazines while I wait for my coffee.
A friend used to visit and park his bike outside the front door. I hope he didn’t notice me drooling over it, my hands half reaching with longing but afraid to touch.
The first time I ever rode a bike on my own was in Thailand. Safety is not really their biggest concern. You walk into any of the numerous bike hire places, give them your passport and some money, and they give you keys, a bike, and two helmets.
Actually, I can’t remember if helmets were part of the deal…
Notice the distinct lack of any safety equipment. Notice the open beach shoes. The board shorts. The sleeveless shirt.
See how high up in the mountains we were? Just after this picture, on the ride home, the afternoon rainstorm hit and I rode the hour back to the hotel with a passenger on the back, down the windy mountain, dodging crazy Thai drivers who don’t follow any discernible road rules, unable to see a thing, and soaked to the bone.
Other notable incidents on that trip were when we stalled it going up a hill and had a comical British-comedy-like exchange in front of a bunch of Thai residents sitting on their balconies watching, and that time I came within inches of riding off a really high bridge.
Still, that and ocean jetskiing are still up there on my list of favourite things I’ve done.
But as my bike instructor said, I’m still alive, so I would have no troubles getting my licence.
I’ve loved bikes for years. But I’ve never gotten “into them”. People look at me funny when I say I love bikes and they ask me what do I like, naked, touring, sports? and I say I don’t know. To go back to the post I wrote a few weeks ago on defining me, I think I just never put the energy into it because I was so busy supporting other people’s interests. No one ever asked me to, I just thought that was something that you did in a partnership. Not that I didn’t enjoy those interests, I’ve had some fantastic experiences in the pursuit of other people’s interests, such as learning how to train a racehorse and flying overseas just to watch a band. I just always put my interests on the backburner.
I got my bike licence today. Something I’ve always wanted to do, talked about a lot, but never found a reason to do. I still have no reason to have a bike licence, I don’t have a bike (yet), I don’t have any gear (yet), but I am so damn proud of myself for accomplishing something that is purely for me. Something I’m going to build on and grow and enjoy.
There were times when I didn’t think I could do it. During bike training and the instructor would call out a correction and I would stall it from being nervous. When I accidentally rolled on the throttle too hard and the bike took off (best words I heard all weekend were ‘nicely not panicked’ once I brought the bike to a gentle stop). When the training bike got stuck in neutral and wouldn’t find a gear. When I was faced with a question that I had no idea what the answer was in the knowledge test.
But I did it, there are a bunch of extra little letters on my licence that mean if I want to, I can jump on a bike and go, and it’s just for me.