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.