Do I Ride?

Gigi on Raven

Pretty simple question, and my answer is usually “Of course.”

The bald-faced truth is more complicated, as are most first-glance simple things.  Here’s the long version.

  1. So, do I ride?  Well … I’ve been on one type of motorcycle or another since I was probably 10. One of my older brothers raced motocross for years and there was always a bike or two (and some hot rods) around the house.  However, the clearest memory I have of actually “riding” was one afternoon down the pits where my brother would practice … I got on one kid’s minibike and gave it some throttle … next thing I knew I was absolutely flying; jumping, going through the whoops, shooting the berms.  I wasn’t petrified, more amazed.  When I stopped to give the kid back his bike, he was aglow … “Wow!  We’ve never seen a girl go that fast!”  I passed off as nonchalant … well, I’m Jimbo’s sister … oh, boy that was even better news, the kid was a big fan.

When I was 14, I had my first ride on a Harley-Davidson.  120 MPH, roaring down a country back road, with my tank top literally whipping off my skin. The driver was at least 10 years older than me, neighbors across the lake of my brother’s girlfriend. I’m positive my folks had no idea where I was or what I was doing, but I was completely hooked.  From then on, all I wanted to do was ride.  At that time, it didn’t occur to me that driving a bike would be to my taste, just being on the back and around older guys was all I wanted.  What my folks found out about must have aged them 20 years when I was a teen, and it was a good thing the kind of trouble I was looking for back then just wasn’t available in my town.  What they didn’t find out about … they never will. Boy-crazy and bike crazy … not the wisest combination, looking back.

  1. Do I have my motorcycle license? Yes, I’ve had it for a few years.  I took some good advice and looked up … took their weekend class.  Had a serious blast.  Two intensive days of hitting the books, watching video, listening to the instructors, and spending the afternoon on small motorcycles they provided, learning basics and technique.  Not only did I go first, I passed the test, which made me pretty proud.
  2. Do I own a bike? I’m not sure.  My man inherited a sweet Sportster in 1996 … someone owed him money blah blah blah.  We had an argument about money one year and he signed it over to me, but I can’t find the title. Doesn’t matter; who owns it doesn’t determine who rides it, in our house.  He’s all about me riding, too.  And I’m all about him riding.  But when we ride it together, we look like Shriners … it’s far too small for the two of us, even though we had fun.  He’s a big guy.  I have very high hopes that he’ll be able to get a bigger bike, and I can ride with him on the Sportie.
  3. When’s the last time I actually drove the Sportster?  Um. The first day I took it out, I dropped it while going around the block.  Stopped.  At a stop sign.  With no one around.  I hadn’t learned how to pick up a bike (but I knew how to jump!), and pulled muscles from my ankle to my earlobe trying.  A kind man with a car full of kids came to my rescue; I got it the rest of the block home and parked it.
  4. So, what’s stopping me?  I have the bike and the license, what’s the problem?  Well, a) see my webpage “The Motor Project.”  Even though the bike came first, I still think of it as his toy, and the ‘vette has been an enjoyable diversion of time and funds because b) I have serious back problems that had gotten much worse since ’99 or so. We were out on the bike once and I couldn’t go on … I was in so much pain he had to dump me off 5 miles from home and go get a car.  Heartbreaking.  he’s been out of work for some time, too … there just hasn’t been the do-re-mi to keep the bike *and* the car going.  So it’s been in the shed for probably 5 years.
  5. How about being a passenger?  None of this has stopped me from climbing on the back, but opportunities are rare.  The buddy who passed away in September had a ga-ga-gargeous FLH that we’d go out on once in a while.  D and I go to Harley Rendezvous annually, which is the highlight of the year, but we go for the party and the friends.  Truth is, I just don’t know any bikers that live around here, or that aren’t hooked up with a jealous woman.  D was thoughtful enough to bring along my leathers and helmet to BigK’s funeral, and he found a brother willing to let me saddle up behind him to ride behind BigK’s bike, carried on a flatbed. But we didn’t make any contacts there, the crowd, and we, were far too grief-stricken.  I go by HoneyDew once in a while, but … BigK won’t ever be there again.

D tried to get me back up on the horse, but I’d lost my nerve.  Ol’ K was always on my ass to get my back taken care of and ride, and I always had valid reasons not to.   My good friend Abby, the one and only Celebrity Biker Chick and publisher of Biker Chick Magazine, the woman who’s ridden her entire life, who teaches motorcycle safety, and in 2007 rode her Softail coast-to-coast—alone and unarmed—keeps tempting me. I’ve had some wonderful back care from Spaulding … I think this summer is the summer.  A couple of tires, change of fluids …


Not only for myself, but for Kevin, for Abby, for every one whose soul has cried out for loud pipes and freedom … for every man or woman who has seen a Harley roar by and gotten an “I wish …” look in their eyes, a tug at their hearts … I need to be part of that family that isn’t related by blood, but is carefully chosen by strength of character.

Wish me luck.


(The story continues in 2015 …