membership has its priveleges

When I was in college I had a good friend who graduated a year ahead of me. Mark was a commuter student like myself and we both worked at the local supermarket to pay for our meager existences. While I wasn’t the best with money, Mark was extremely frugal and extracted a good amount of living from a meager income. It wasn’t lost on him that we joked about his “frugality”. Behind the jeers, I admired his discipline.

Imagine my surprise when one night in 1990, Mark rolls up in a mint 1984 Corvette (yes, the first year of the new body style). We all got to talking and before any of us could extract from him what he paid for it, Mark offered that he paid too much at too high a rate of interest and he didn’t care. Because this was in such stark contrast to his frugal persona we were all very surprised and vocalized it. His answer?
“I’ve always wanted one and I told myself that when I graduated I was buying one, regardless of the cost.”

It’s funny the things you remember. Especially when you imitate it yourself 30 years later.

I have always wanted a Harley-Davidson Motorcycle. My love of motorcycles is well-documented. Any bike is a beautiful thing, wind therapy is the same no matter what you are on. But there’s something special about the American Icon Harley Davidson. The trademark rumble, the magnificent yet classic style and the memories of my Dad and his series of bigger and more beautiful models have always been at the forefront of my mind.
But I could never justify the cost.
2 years ago I celebrated my divorce by buying a motorcycle. The idea was Verboten in my marriage for financial and safety reasons ( my wife knew about the accident in ’87 that almost killed me) so once divorced I had to. It was a small Honda that served me well for a year as I got my skills back. I soon upgraded to a larger bike, a Yamaha 950. Before purchasing, I perused the row of Harley’s but they were too expensive. As I signed the Purchase and Sale it felt good but not great, I really wanted the Harley.
The Yamaha lasted a year. Last week, while in a funk over a girl and life in general I needed to do something for me. I needed something to love. To fixate on. To distract me from the factors in my life that were chapping my ass. I desperately wanted something to make me happy. Want became need and before I knew it I was at the dealer discussing trade in values.

I had gone there looking at a 2015 Heritage Softail but once I saw it in person I wasn’t impressed with the condition. I quickly moved down the line and BOOOM there it was, a 2014 Fat Boy Lo Softail with 4000 miles. This bike was immaculate.
I fell in love and drove off with it that day.

Despite my love of all that is Harley, I had never ridden one. All I can say is that there is a difference. Everything feels different, better. The feel of the road, the rumble of the pipes, the ogling of young children and jealous soccer dads, it’s all as advertised.

As a rider I joined an exclusive club. Bikers are a tight bunch. Hailing from all walks of life we all share our love of the open road and the comraderie it entails. We have each other’s back. Having a Harley is not a pre requisite for membership. All types and models are welcome. But again, there’s something about the Harley.

I’ve been riding almost non stop for a week. I have no plans to stop until the snow flies. Behind the bars of this bike is where I am meant to be. It was always my goal. I wanted it so bad it became a need. A manageable one, my payment only went up a bit. So worth it.

An added bonus, I feel as if my father is riding beside me with a proud smile from ear to ear. I have to rely on imagination because it is one thing I never got to do with him.

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…

Something big between my legs… Part 3

To bring you up to speed, you can catch up here and here.

I had just been asked, nay, commanded by my captivating temptress to meet her at a destination some 25 miles away for a steamy rendezvous. Having absolutely no control over which head was doing the thinking, I jumped on my motorcycle and rolled out of my driveway on my way to what was certain to be another afternoon of memorable debauchery.

The route I needed to take was largely highway followed by a series of back roads that seemed slow and endless, as if designed to discourage the impatient from traveling them, therefore preserving the quaint little towns they rolled through. I hated highway riding on the motorcycle but looked forward to the side roads. And of course the destination.

Massachusetts drivers are notoriously rude and aggressive and bikes often become victim to overzealous tailgaters and lane-changers. Despite the hormones raging through my body, I maintained a safe speed on the 2-lane highway for the entire 18-mile stretch. Speed wasn’t my thing. I rode to experience, to savor, to be a part of the road and everything around it. This made me a major burden and obstacle to other drivers. As expected I was passed as if sitting still several times and I was cut off more than my fair share of times. I wasn’t angry, I took great satisfaction knowing that my destination likely held way more fun in store than theirs.

As I got closer, the soaring seagulls above me and the salty taste of the air stinging my face teased my sense of urgency. I would be pulling off of the highway soon. Before I knew it I was at my exit and I pulled off. The treacherous part of my journey was over and the scenic part was upon me. I downshifted, felt my steed angrily and loudly object and began the last leg of my journey.

The road was one of those roads that you can lose yourself in. With few stop signs, an abundance of woodland briefly interrupted by the occasional beautiful home on each side, it is a road that you could “zone out” and not remember riding it but know you loved it. I was coasting along, leaning into the winding corners when I noticed in my left mirror a car coming up on me very quickly. I tensed up a bit, I wasn’t the most experienced rider and tailgaters made me very anxious. He got on my rear wheel pretty close and I knew I had to let him by me, but where? There were no houses in sight and the shoulder was soft and loose. After one very anxious and angry mile, I spotted a pull off. I could see from a distance that it was a scenic spot that many people used to pull off and enjoy the view (the sand dunes were visible at this point). I could see that it was all dirt and rocks so I signaled and slowed in preparation to turn off.

As I shifted down to pull onto the shoulder the driver behind me accelerated. Underestimating my speed he hit my left leg and foot rest. My bike and I sharply shot to the right and plunged into a section of deep sand. My bike stopped. I didn’t. I was thrown from the bike and my last recollection was of slamming into a old, rusty guardrail. I hit it and rolled down an embankment where I vividly recall frantically gasping for air futiley three times, realized that breathing wasn’t possible, thinking to myself “I’m dead” and then blacking out.

to be continued…