A Motorcycle Love Story
It was an eventful Saturday night full of great people, great food, and great drinks. My friends and I sat at a high-top bar, watching an intense college football game that was bound to leave at least half of our group angry and upset.
With alcohol acting as the perfect symbol of instant friendship, we struck up a conversation and swapped stories with the group next to us. Now, upon these guys coming up to the bar, they looked like they were here for business. And I don’t mean actual business (it’s a Saturday, no work and all play) but these guys were here to drink and be merry.
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They were decked head-to-toe in dark leather jackets, sturdy pants, and boots that were made for walking. Upon my group initially striking up a conversation with them, we’d be lying if we said we weren’t nervous. Were they the type to get angry quickly? The answer was an obvious no upon getting to know them.
If anything came easy to them, it was smiles, laughs, and road stories. Yep, road stories that made my heart plummet to the bottom of my body. Some stories had me thinking, danger, danger; you’re much better off just marveling over a motorcycle from the background.
These guys were riders that were practically drenched in passion for the culture. Their bikes were their loves, treated like gold, and their ideal and perfect adventure partner. While I couldn’t claim to understand that feeling, I was interested in the devotion they had for their bikes.
The game ended in an uproar, but we were all having such a great time and had no intentions of finishing the night early. We left to go hop on over to another bar, but I felt someone hold me back from the group. His name was John, and his smiles came easily. But you know what didn’t come easy? Him trying to convince me to get on his bike.
“I haven’t had anything to drink, so I’m completely fine. From the look you had listening to our stories, I thought you might be interested in catching a ride. The bar is right down the street so that it will be quick; just an opportunity to try it out. Interested?” His smile was lighting up my world (don’t shoot me for the cliche, it’s a cliche for a reason).
While the thought terrified me, it was also that tight knot in your stomach that had some fluttering of excitement around it. In other words, I was scared out of my mind but had every intention of getting on.
“If you promise that we’ll actually get down the road without tragedy, I’m for it.”
He smiled that smile that would become a permanent fixture on his face through the years. “The only tragedy I see here is never having been on a motorcycle. Let’s fix that.”
I swung onto his Harley Davidson Fat Boy (when he told me it was a Fat Boy, I thought he was insulting me, but quickly learned Harley likes interesting names) and dug my legs into the leather in a desperate attempt for extra traction. I could only imagine how ridiculous I looked-a 5’3 girl, a bobblehead of a helmet weighing her down, struggling to figure out where the hell she was supposed to put her feet. Before I could kindly tell him I’d like to get the hell off, he was on, and the bike's engine rumbled under me like an angry lion waiting to be let out of a cage. There came another strike of fear, but that fear was outweighed by the adrenaline that sunk in once hearing the engine.
This was going to be fun.
Before I could get the chance to chicken out, he had us rolling on down the road. It wasn’t like anything I had thought. I assumed the ride would feel very stiff because of the pure insanity of weight, but it glided down the road with an ease that had me smiling. While making some sharp turns had me digging my nails into his rough black jacket, I could finally start to see the appeal that came with riding. But it just didn’t feel enough, because I knew this beast was capable of going much faster. And I wanted in.
“Hey, could we take a quick little drive? We can come back right after; I just want to see what this thing can actually do.”
In later years, John would tell me that that was the moment he knew I was a keeper.
He found us a reasonably unpopulated road that was as much of a straight shot as we were going to find. He turned slightly around to question if I was comfortable, and I impatiently told him to stop worrying and just hit it.
We went flying on down the road, and it felt like my heart had slammed into my back from the speed. I let out a yell that probably wasn’t English or much of anything; I just knew I needed to yell out in excitement. The feel felt so freeing and liberating, like this was a machine that was fast enough to trail away from your problems, even if for just a little bit. My adrenaline was pounding through my veins, and my face was hurting from smiling so much, but I didn’t care. I had just a sense of escape and freedom I had never felt before, and I wanted more.
And that’s how my love started. John and I became great friends, and he was always completely willing to let me bug him for rides as much as I could. I was calling him up every other day in search of that freedom, especially when life got stressful. It was exactly what I needed in my life and riding became the thing I looked forward to most.
“You know, why don’t you get your motorcycle license? You’re obviously meant to be on one, and driving one is more fun than riding.”
I didn’t see how it was possible that it could be more fun, but what the hell, I was up for the challenge! I took the classes while John helped me on the side to give me a more personal experience for riding. As you could imagine, it didn’t take long for eight months of friendship to turn into something much more.
He was there for me when I got my motorcycle license and there to help me when it came to buying my own bike. He began to remind me a bit of a motorcycle, at one point-stable, strong, reliable, and fun. When I bought my first bike, my beloved Honda Shadow, he was there showing as much enthusiasm as if it was his own.
And he was right, as he is usually was-driving a motorcycle brought on a whole new experience, and it was everything I had hoped it would be. We’d frequently go on long rides just to spend time together and feel that freedom that came with riding. And when our love for riding grew and became a solid foundation of ‘rightness,’ so did the love we had for each other. He likes to refer to us as 'love riders'. That didn’t change when he popped the question, it didn’t change when we married and rode off on our bikes after the reception, it didn’t change when kids came along (though, it was a bit harder to fit in) and it hasn’t changed now.
We still love riding as much as we did when we first started, and I continuously consider myself so lucky to have fallen in love twice, all at the same time. I fell in love with him, and I fell in love with riding, and while I’m sure there are plenty more adventures ahead, it’s been the best adventure I could have ever hoped for.
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