In the beginning… my road to riding
When I was young nothing could compare to riding my bicycle with baseball cards clipped to the spokes with wooden clothes pegs. I remember the rhythmic clickety-clack of cardboard on metal that turned my bicycle magically into a motorcycle (or at least that was the idea) and I would race through the neighbourhood with no particular place to go. I didn’t understand it back then, but it was that sense of feeling free and the rush of the air currents passing by that energized my soul and drove my desire to race the wind.
As time passed and my life had taken many twists and turns, eventually those childhood memories faded but still somewhere in the back of my mind that desire never stopped and would occasionally rise to the surface. Life continued to tick on by until sometime in my mid-thirties I finally had a chance to ride on the back of a motorcycle, to be honest, it was the first time I had ever even gotten that close to one. What I remember most from the experience was that something was definitely missing. And that something was it just wasn’t enough to be a passenger, I wanted to be in control to truly capture the freedom of having my soul in flight.
Dream to Reality…
Unfortunately for me, my life continued to get in the way (real life can be so pesky that way) and before I knew it, middle age was creeping up. As another birthday approached it occurred to me if I didn’t go after that desire to ‘race the wind’ I would never do it and be left with the ghost of ‘I should have’ haunting me the rest of my days. It was on my 44th birthday that I made a silent vow to get my motorcycle license that spring. I never told anyone what had been rattling around in my brain for so many years. I had kept it secret, and the vow I had just made to myself remained a talisman of sorts, and if spoken allowed it would dissipate into a puff of smoke and be lost forever. (That may have been a bit dramatic, but all true)
|2006 Yamaha V-Star 250|
The moment I walked in the doors of the Yamaha dealer a small, slender beauty caught my eye. Dark red with a hint of sparkle captured that perfect mix of dainty and dangerous. As soon as I sat on the little V-star 250 it was love. We were a perfect fit and I just had to have her. Call it destiny, excitement, impulse... all I knew was she was the one. Even though I bought her that day, the reality was that I still needed to know how to safely ride her.
A few days later the Motorcycle Course started and it poured rain, not only on the first day but it continued to rain the entire weekend. As waterlogged as I was that didn’t dampen my spirit to ride. I admit I was nervous as hell, but my desire outweighed the butterflies that insistently fluttered around in the pit of my stomach. It also helped immensely to keep saying a silent mantra in my head (“You can do this”) the entire time. By the end, I was soggy, glasses were fogged and my hair was plastered to my head, but nothing could take away the smile that spread from ear to ear the day I passed.
Do what makes you happy…
|2009 Harley Davidson Sportster 883|
The good-bye was bitter-sweet when I traded her in for my Harley Sportster 883. I admit the whole “legend” and mystique of a Harley was a bit (okay a lot) of the driving force behind my decision to get one. I chose the Sportster mainly because out of all the Harleys there it was the only one I actually was able to reach the ground on. (Which is one of the things I believe is very important when choosing a motorcycle)
It also took some time to get really comfortable on my Harley and I ended up making a few adjustments in order to ease the transition. Starting with switching out the handle bars which were too spread out, they made me feel like I was on one of those torture racks back in the middle ages. The seat was so hard that I have sat on rocks softer, and I needed to get a windshield to protect me from getting blasted in the chest by the wind and the bugs. I really didn’t like the foot pegs either, which resembled something you would find on a telephone pole that a utility worker would climb to reach the top with. After I made the changes my Harley and I were much more compatible.
As a motorcyclist and a woman, my experience learning to ride a motorcycle was empowering and positive and still is. I am finally ‘living’ and even if it took me a lot of years to figure it out, I now firmly believe; “Don't live your life with ‘what if's’ and it is ‘okay’ to do what makes you happy”.
(This article is a condensed and modified version from my original article Cruising through life on a motorcycle that is)
by Sandy Bird aka the Frozen Canuck
Writer, The Frozen Canuck. "Writing has been flowing through my fingers since I can remember. It allows me to express myself in a way that I could never accomplish with the spoken word. My passion for riding a motorcycle is in a way parallel to it. Both give me a sense of self, a freeing of spirit and a rush of embracing a journey to the unknown. To be able to do both is invigorating."
“Riding liberates my soul, I feel alive!”