Gail

With my new mesh armor I felt unstoppable. I am super hero looking. I could pose for pictures with tourists in front of Mann’s Chinese theatre. I love body armor. It’s protective and looks cool and makes you feel – well, unstoppable, even by the blustery wind that had the great staff at the Honda garage asking “Margaret – you really want to ride in this weather?” Yes I do. Just around the block a couple of times. I am not going up to Angeles crest or anything. Yes I would love to ride the dragon, deal’s gap, the mission of most motorcyclists – but it will be maybe a few years before that happens. I just want to get to the end of the block and then come back around. It’s enough for now. then, just like a real biker, I will have some coffee and pie.

My beautiful Honda dream is being restored, bit by bit. Rust corrodes the gas tank, and some of the rubber here and there hasn’t really stood the test of time. The tires are backordered, whitewalls that the bike comes with are on a waitlist longer than a year, too long for me anyway, so I got black ones instead. Many of the bike’s issues have been solved by no less than three brilliant mechanics – here as in many cases – it takes a village.

I went down to the garage to say hello to my bike, her name is Abigail, sometimes Gail, but never Abby. Gail is like my older sister, as I have always wanted one. She’s the louder sibling that hasn’t been ridden as much. Gail hasn’t seen all that much of the world, so it does her good to get out and about. Gail is getting on a truck soon to meet me in Peachtree City. Gail is packing her saddlebags and going on a trip. Gail, I can see and feel and hear, is extremely excited by her new life with me.

I got on Gail today and I was startled by the absence of my constant passenger, fear. Ever since I started riding, fear puts on a helmet and swings a leg over and grabs onto my torso. Fear has kept me from leaning properly with the turns and curves and has made me almost fall many times. Fear encourages me to slam into walls and guardrails. Fear turns my head to where I don’t want to go. Fear is the worst. Fear didn’t come today though. Never showed up.

I got on Gail alone, just me and her, for once, and we zipped down the street, cars behind us and beside us and in front of us. I felt nothing except the good sense to stay away from them and also to anticipate their movements. Gail and I went with the traffic and turned off onto a side street. Fear wasn’t there, no matter where I looked.

The inside of my helmet remained dry, my mouth stayed wet. I didn’t feel or hear my heart beat inside my helmet, only the wind rushing through, and the engine between my legs as well as the engines all around me. my visor was shut, and it didn’t fog over with the rising heat of fear. It stayed clear. No fear. Nothing. Just me. Gail humming smoothly. My new body armor strapping me up and in, holding me tight to myself, legs actively pressing into the gas tank, like a biker should do.

I know that this is the most dangerous time of riding, when the beginner stops feeling the intense, paralysis of fear. When fear is no longer a passenger, what is there to stop us? Caution must be constant, not fear, but I have a hard time separating the two I guess. Caution’s grip isn’t as strong around me. Caution is like fear’s child I guess, and I have to care for it well, or fear will come back, and take its revenge.

7 Comments. Add To The Mix…

  1. Margaret, at least you are smart enough and have the common sense to wear a helmet and utilize body protection, unlike many a motor bike rider here in Florida. I see too much crazy riders here, tail gaiting cars, and flip flopping lanes without even a turn signal, let alone driving space between the cars they slip back and forth between.
    Other than that, carry on being you, safe and watch out for the other guy, that is rule number 1. Peace babe ;)

  2. Wow. Nice post. It took me a year just to get around the block on my little Honda. Just the other day I realized I was shifting & leaning & not even thinking about it. It felt like I was there. I’m legit. A REAL biker. I’m past 10,000 miles now. Caution hasn’t left me, but fear…lol…fear is long gone. Just freedom remains in it’s place. Congrats, Biker chick! Safe riding.

  3. Thanks for the reminder of those days of learning to lean into the turn – my first crush and nearly first crash. Hugs, darlin’!

  4. Margaret, You are awesome! And being cautious is a good thing. Please post pics of you two when Gail arrives, okay?

    xo

  5. margaret — it’s beautiful getting a different sense of andrew bird’s music after your hilarious video with him. on that note, shit brown as brown university doesn’t work for any of this, but when one rides a motorcycle the weight of 100 trolls just isn’t happening through enjoying the creative spirit beyond the limitations of troglodytes and their trollish underlings. anyhow, loved this post as i’m enjoying andrew’s show. but, the freedom of the ride should be enjoyed for just that — the freedom of the ride and inspiration, but try getting inspiration from chauvinist morons — it’s just not happening. dreadful tale of inertia like tumbleweed. snore.

  6. When I was Young (teens and early 20′s) I rode dirt bikes. Back then I felt invincible and would ride “hell for leather” all the time. I even raced those bikes. The day I found out I was pregnant with my first child was the last day I rode. My husband was terrified I would get hurt. (Over-protective much??) So for his sake I gave up the dare-devil, but love wins out. Well, in 2008, Husband died and I was grief-stricken and quickly going insane. My son said “Mom, you are depressed and crazy and making all us kids crazy, You need a Harley.” So at the ripe age of 54 I bought a new Sporty 1200 Low.
    The really crazy part was that I had just had shoulder surgery and was in an imobilizer at the time of purchase. They had to deliver the bike. It sat in the garage until my recovery was complete and I had taken the MSF course.
    After I passed the course, I was riding in the neighborhood practicing stops and turns before going out onto the main streets. I did that for about 3 weeks. (Scared Much? Yup.) One Saturday while practicing I passed a police car about 3 times. When I passed it the fourth time the cop pulled me over. I’m thinking – I haven’t even gotten onto a main street and I’m going to get a ticket. He asked for license and documents and asked me what I was doing cruising the residential neighborhood so often. I explained about being a newbie rider on the street and that I was just practicing. He handed me my documents and very sternly said “Well Ma’am, I don’t know about your practice – but your lap times are getting better.” Then he said to Ride Safe and drove off laughing.
    That was 3 years ago and I’m on my second bike, 2008 Street Glide. Now at 58 years, I truly appreciate that Life is Good.
    I LOVE my bike
    Love and Hugs

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