Fate is no matter of choice

Did your life turn out the way you thought it would? Have you made the right choices at the right time in your life?

Lucky you, if you can say yes to both vital questions.

Today I walked right into the envy and regret of another middle-aged woman. She met me and asked herself the same two questions.

I do not know what answers she found, I do not have answers myself. But maybe that is impossible.

Right, here’s a little story about parting, making choices and maybe regretting them.

I had to part from my little bike today. My old Suzuki LS 650 Savage I have had for nearly 14 years. The engine was gone and I gave her away for scrapping.

all year round

It felt painfully final. The trips we’ve made together, the places we’ve seen, people we’ve met.

Scotland

So I went to get her de-registered. I pulled a number (105) and waited for my turn, filling in a few forms in the meantime. The woman, to whose desk I was being summoned by a modest bell, had long greyish hair, glasses and a pale complexion; nondescript, really.

She was typing away but she kept looking at my passport.

I had lost the number plate recently, abroad. She dealt with that, too. And she showed compassion because she could tell I was sad to see her go.

“Well” I said, “I have still got the Harley.”

Her eyebrows went up.

Yeah, I went on “A woman of today should have two bikes, shouldn’t she?” and gave her a big grin.

She just looked at my passport again, than at me.

“I don’t. And I am only a year older than you.” she said with a sad voice as if she wanted to say: And look at me!

Then she grabbed my arm and said: “But I have four children.”

“This is something you don’t have, do you?” she went on and then apologised for it straight away.

There will always be times when you regret the choices you’ve made. And there are times when they feel very right. Successful choices are matter of degree. 

Applecross

But your life is not only shaped by the choices you make. Fate makes most choices and leaves you to deal with it.

Yes, I have always wanted a Harley-Davidson. For as long as I can remember.

Is it poetic justice not to have children, then? 

coffee to go

Is logic a predominantly male thing?

Yeah, you guys out there, I know, I know. Don’t shout “Of course it is!” at me.

I might just agree…. surprise, surprise!

And you know why?

easy in a carBecause I went for a coffee.

I took the Harley for the first ride of the season. The sun was out and there was no stopping me. I needed to be on the road again.

The air was still cold, especially going over the mountains, the sun has not the power yet to warm quickly. I guess there were no more than 5 to 7 degrees when we set off. But what a joy it was to start her (she kicked in at the first try) and roar along empty country roads. After an hour the cold started to creep into my fingers. My cheeks and chin felt frozen, the half helmet not protecting much.

I ached for a coffee. My body ached for warmth. So I stopped at McDonald’s.

I left her right opposite the front door and walked in. Clammy fingers nestled with gloves and sunglasses, trying to get my wallet out of my pocket.

A young woman seemed busy behind the counter, though for no apparent reason because I was the only customer. She was all done up, heavy make-up and an attitude to go with it.

“A large café latte to drink in!” was what I said to catch her attention. The words were difficult to get out because my chin felt frozen.

She gave me a look through dark mascara lashes and carefully pressed the order into the touch screen, making sure that her perfectly manicured fingernails with golden glitter varnish took no harm.

She gave me another one of these I-am-bored-like-hell looks and said.

“To drink in or to go?”

???

I couldn’t believe this stupidity. Not only had I told her I was staying in. How on earth did she expect me to drink the coffee while I was driving???

Ever tried that on a Harley?

Well, she obviously never and it took me some time to get over so much stupidity.

I finished my latte and walked out into the sunshine. Harley waiting.

to go

While I got ready to go (gloves, lid, jacket and things) I noticed a wee boy who kept a safe distance of about 20 meters. He can’t have been older than two and a half years. The wind played with his blonde curls, blue eyes followed every movement I made while all the time he held his two little hands quite firmly pressed on his ears. That wee man knew it was going to be loud the minute I started the engine. He was prepared. And he was absolutely fascinated.

I started the engine and a smile washed over his face. I smiled back at him and drove off waving a gloved good-bye to him. When I was about 50 meters away he waved back. He had waited until it was safe enough to uncover his ears.

How much logic in such a young boy and how little in a woman ten times his age.

Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

how to survive hibernation

I wish I could hibernate!

Like a bear cuddled up somewhere warm, fat and content. Dreaming peacefully of summer smells and the sound of my Harley.

I am no bear and I am not superwoman either. Winter is just too cold to keep her on the roads.

So she is hibernating, bearlike under white sheets. Only the slow rhythm of the recharging battery tells me she’s still alive. I check regularly, not now, though.

We are separated, I am not at home. I can’t touch her. There are more than a thousand miles between us.

I am in my other life just now,up North, where my other bike was waiting for me. Last week the sun was out. It felt warm although I suspect it can’t have been more than four of five degrees out there. I took her for a ride, anyway.

Hero me – the only biker on the road all day.

There’s nothing like the warmth of the sun on black leather on a winter’s day.

The regrets came on the way back. The sun gone, it soon felt like a fight, a struggle with the elements. Forcing my hands to move the clutch, trying to wriggle frozen toes in biker boots, hardening the chin against the cold wind. How cold it is, to be cool!

I felt even more like a heroine then, a heroine craving a hot bath but I guess that’s allowed in the hero world.

I had taken care of my abstinence symptoms, I cured my desire and lust with another one.

What a male thing to do!

I kept the other bike  right outside the house so I could see here, touch her, watch the rain’s pattern on the tank. I gave her a good clean and finally gave in. She’s back in the shed again. Snow is coming.

Hibernating a Harley is hard, but hibernating two bikes is even worse.

Route 66

Yes! It is unavoidable and necessary. Inescapable. Like Pavlov’s conditioning and involuntary reflex action. You just must.

You own a Harley – you do the Route 66.

I always thought that’s what I wanna do, one of these days. Me and my Harley – like the unknown legend in Neil Young‘s song. Long blond hair floating in the wind. I could picture myself quite clearly, I could almost smell tarmac and  feel the heat coming off the cylinder. I could see myself ordering a burger sitting on engine red faux-leather in some roadside diner.

Like Thelma and Louise I pictured my self  looking dead cool and sexy in tight leathers. Dangerous and not to be messed with. On the road. Alive. Nothing more. An outlaw going through Texas (was that on the way?) or at least heading for the West. Have my own movie. Live my own story.

Until last week.

I watched a documentary feature on the telly. Route 66. The camera crew followed a posse of Norwegian bikers on Harleys. They had a tour guide (!) with them. Everything was prearranged. Motels, diners, picture spots. The guide made them pose underneath road signs, made couples kiss over the borderline of two different time zones. They stopped for a coke (!) in a cozy (!) biker bar and gave them time to haunt the souvenir shops. Fancy a Route 66 dishtowel? They said they had always wanted to be different.

What an bunch of numpties!

Route 66???

NEVER, EVER! Not like this.

So, American bikers out there: is there a cool route to take somewhere in this vast and beautiful country? A road where you can ride into the sunset and not from picture spot to picture spot??

LET ME KNOW WHERE!!

 

the things you need

This is about the insatiable appetite you develop when you own a Harley and I am not talking food here. I am talking things.

The fact that you are riding a legend soon creeps into many parts of your life that do not actually have anything to do with riding a bike. It is as if there is a need to let it take over. Be with you everywhere you go.

You want to put stickers on your car. Not on your Harley of course but you do want it glued into your every day life.

People give you Harley things for Christmas and birthdays. I got fridge stickers I lovingly rearrange ever so often. Harley-Davidson everywhere. Not only in the garage.

Am I overcompensating because winter is coming??

I had her down to the dealer’s for inspection the other day.Had to wait for about an hour in the showroom and drove away with a new jacket and hoodie I could hardly squeeze into the tiny side saddle bag. Of course it said Harley-Davidson on both.

When you don’t own one, you think all you really need in life is a Harley and when you own a Harley, you think you really need more things in your live that say Harley.

Is that just fantastic marketing by the manufacturer or middle-age stupidity on my side?

I don’t know yet but I wear the new stuff with relish and … I think the hoodie goes nicely with my new desktop picture……

Guess I really need a HD mouse as well.

Don’t they tell us women in all those glossy magazines to accessorize?

Well. I do!

Freedom – how the way you wear a piece of cloth can make all the difference

 

I know ! Everybody mumbles about freedom when it comes to riding a Harley – Davidson. I won’t. At least not in the sense most bikers would. Not now.

If you have ever been on a bike, you know how a ride can make your thoughts wander. Mile after mile you are alone with you machine, the sound, the smells, with your thoughts. You have time to think. Unless of course some housewife decides to suddenly pull out of a driveway without looking or a pensioner to cross the road right in front of your front wheel. These are other stories.

I was out on a long ride through beautiful if slightly cold autumn weather. The roads were clear of leaves, traffic reasonable, I enjoyed my run thoroughly. And yes, I felt free. A happy woman if ever there was one.

After an hour or so I stopped at a set of traffic lights when I spotted a young woman with a plain black scarf on her head following a man I assumed was her husband. She always kept three steps behind him. She never looked up. Her husband did. He stared right in my face or what he could see of it. My black bandana covered my mouth and nose. Protection from the smells and dirt of the city I had just escaped.

bandana

That was the moment when I felt the freedom of riding a Harley intensely as never before.

That woman and I both wore a piece of cloth. I wore it to cover mouth and nose, she to cover her hair and her beauty. She walked three steps behind her husband. As they think a proper woman should.

I let the clutch go and roared away full speed. Free. Independent. Strong.

As a proper woman should.

How the way you wear a piece of cloth can make all the difference.

need to suffer

I feel the need to suffer. Not in a masochistic sense or anything of the sexual kind. Pain is part of being a biker, needs to be.

There is a definite need to suffer so you can enjoy. How can you explain that to somebody who isn’t a biker?

The destination you want to reach isn’t the most important thing. It is the way you reach it that plays a vital role in the enjoyment of achievement.

Your ride.

You do not hang a trailer on your expensive car and put the bike on it. You do not drive when you ride.

My opinion, quite obviously these days not one shared by many. In summer these guys shirk long distances. Now, as autumn approaches, it is rain and cold they do not find too appealing.

Using a car to transport a bike is not only ridiculous, it is missing the point so completely and utterly it could be funny really. But I do not find it funny. Annoying is the word that hits the target here.

These middle-aged and middle class bikers annoy me because I feel they have no right to be part of this group. Trailing their bikes!

Their hands in their gloves never felt so cold that they couldn’t use the front brakes anymore. Their feet were never so wet  that they were swimming in their boots.  The pain in their backs never stopped them from sleeping at night.

So they are comfortable and cozy and annoying.

The point of riding a bike is riding it.

Easy as that boys!