The open road

You may or not believe me when I tell you this, but 32 years ago as I was lying in traction with 4 fractured vertebrae, 3 broken ribs and a nurse picking gravel out of my ass, that I was dreaming of my next motorcycle (and of course about the hot chick I was going to see when I crashed). I had to dream of the next bike because the one that I had just crashed was a mere pile of twisted metal.

People were amazed that even during my recovery I still loved the notion of the motorcycle. I was unfazed by my injuries, the lure of the open road always called to me since my boyhood days of clutching to my father’s waist as we roared around on his bike. I was barely 17 when I got my first one and only 23 when I had my crash.

I stayed away from the call of the road through my late 20’s and by 30 I was married with no expendable income and a wife that never entertained the notion even if I could afford one. She was amazed that after what I had been through I wanted another and just a bit fearful of me making her a widow. For the time being I had to be satisfied with daydreaming and slobbering over every bike that I saw go by. I craved the wind in my face and driving as if I were a very part of the road itself. I romanticized it to say the least.

Not needing the approval of anyone, I bought one last fall. Once I started her for the first time this Spring, I knew that I hadn’t romanticized it enough. It shook as if it were the heavy breaths of the mighty steed. It required taming and finesse. We name our steel steeds after a woman, because it’s a thing of beauty and at the same time, the moment we lose respect for her it will buck you off. I named mine Bella.

Bella and I have spent a lot of time together and have earned a mutual respect. We have learned to ride the bumps and hang the curves in unison. We are enjoying our trips and are experiencing an unexpected bonus. We are both celebrities and members of a very exclusive club.

Celebrity status comes in the form of strangers asking me at gas stations and stores what year she is and commenting on how pretty she is. In the form of people seeing the helmet and saying “Oh, I’m jealous.” Bored husbands in minivans teeming with screaming rugrats looking at me at stoplights with pure envy.

The exclusive club is other bikers. Apparently, it is courtesy and custom to wave at passing bikes as we zoom by each other on highways and side roads. We all do it. Harleys to Hondas, we’re all in the same wonderful club. And we watch out for each other, should a car mess with a bike it’s a lot like when a hockey player knocks over a goalie. Shit hits the fan as the protectors come off the bench.

I can’t tell you how much joy I have already gotten from Bella. She’s made a routine commute a religious experience. A ride to and from dialysis a complete and meaningful experience. It has become an escape, a way to become one with nature and a way to make an ordinary day one for the books.

I suppose one additional perk is that it is one giant FUCK YOU to those who say that someone in my position shouldn’t be doing it. I’ve had cancer twice, 2 near fatal accidents, 2 near fatal staph infections, a kidney transplant and I’m still going. Nothing has killed me yet, I’ll be damned if I’ll take the “safer” road for my own benefit. I want to die having lived, with a giant goddamn smile on my face.

Now if you’ll excuse me, the sun is out and Bella is beckoning to me to ride her…

20 thoughts on “The open road”

  1. There is nothing like wind therapy! For now I am lucky enough to be able to be “the bitch on the back”, but hope to own my own someday. I don’t know if you have heard the theory or story about the “biker wave”… It’s supposed to be 2 fingers of your left hand pointed at the ground saying without words…”two wheels on the ground my friend” now that I say this though, I am curious if that is the really story or just what is believed in my circles….Either way safe riding my friend, and please keep two wheels on the ground

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  2. 23 when you crashed. Aren’t we all invincible in our teens and twenties?!?! 😉 You enjoy that bike! The hubs and me (I grew up with motorcycle mania running in my family)… accidents are ‘when’ not ‘if’ but it beats the hell out of a boring commute! I agree! Back to what I was saying (squirrel!) we are going to purchase a CanAm Spyder! I can’t wait!!! How do you feel about adults on 3 wheel motorcycles? Could we still be in the club? I wanna be a cool kid too!😎

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  3. Great post Billy. I appreciate the look and sound of a good bike. It was Bikers Night on Poole Quay (my home town) every Tuesday and the machines were awesome!!! I was offered a Harley D in exchange for Maggie as a pup. Lovely bike owned by a big guy, bald with tats and biceps to crush nuts, but I wouldn’t part with her. Never been on one, though was on the back of a Triumph doing a ton and nearly shitting myself! I looked a right sight, jacket, boots, trousers, helmet, all the gear of which none fitted, and they had to lift me onto a wall so that I could mount the bike from above it as nothing bent! Fabulous memories.

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