The Honda Dream arrived to meet me in Georgia, and I made a nice little apartment for her at my workplace, which also happens to be a quiet municipal airport. She’s not running great, but that is to be expected, being a bit older than me, and with already 2 cross country treks in her short life as mine. There’s dirty carbs, choke issues – now the electrical problems are solved and it’s decidedly all about the fuel line, but before wee Gail (her full name is Abigail the motorcycle) goes under the wrench again, I wanted one good ride on her.
Her engine fired up easily and warmed steady as I pulled on my helmet and gloves. New Porsche sunglasses allow me to crack the visor without crying and I put them on last for dramatic effect. My motocross boots are tight enough to crush my calves in a bruisy embrace, and the blackish purple marks will take weeks to heal even if I elevate my feet every chance I have. Since I have seen Gail last, she’s had new wheels fitted onto her, for the first time in 45 years. She’s way bouncier than she was, the rubber virginal and giving and full of vigor and life. New things are spongy and satisfying.
I rode around the airport in circles, not a car in sight, weaving in between the neat rows of tiny planes, puddle jumpers and helicopters, gliders and prop planes, big toys for big boys, shiny and new and ready to take flight.
Made brave by my solitude, I rode faster and faster and took to the runway. Here was a perfect, smooth road, no other vehicles in my path, laid out before me in a straight line pointed toward the horizon. I could go fast and I did and I hadn’t gotten to this higher gear yet in my short career so far as a motorcyclist. The Honda has no speedometer, the precious needle having fallen off long before we met, and so I don’t know how fast I was going, but I did need to clang my visor shut with a stiff, panicked gloved hand and the wind whipped loud on my eardrums.
The volume of the wind rushing through my helmet was alarming, the sound unfamiliar and blaring to my delicate recording studio ears. As I pulled off the runway I couldn’t hear anything, but I wasn’t expecting anything. I cruised back towards the hangars and turned a corner a little faster than I would have if I were on the street. Facing me was a propeller running, chopping up the air like spinning knives. I felt the fearsome breeze of it on my neck but not on my closed helmet face.