out now – Riding Towards Shadows by Nellie Merthe Erkenbach

Riding Towards Shadows is my very own road movie turned book, a true journey to my heart, my way of dealing with the demons of my past; love, death, and redemption.
Arriving in my forties, I started asking myself who I really was, what my life was about and where I wanted to go from here. I had a successful career as a journalist, but something was missing and there was still a twenty-year-old unsolved issue. The man I loved had died in a motorcycle accident in the early 1990s in Glasgow, Scotland. I never told him I loved him. He never knew, or did he? The pain had never left me.
It was time to give him the send-off he never had. And it was time to face the shadows from my past.
That was the beginning of this journey.
All lovers of road movies know one thing; the means of transport plays a major role in this. I have been a biker all my life, now was the time to go for the real thing. I bought a Harley-Davidson and rode north, a thousand miles towards my past; not knowing, what or who I would find. Could it be peace and awareness?
I hope my search for inner and outer freedom, my way of dealing with my sorrow, and my determination to do things my way, especially as a woman facing so much sexism and stereotypes, will appeal to some and maybe inspire others. Never cease to dream.
Of course, this is also a story for all those lovers of road movies, motorcycles and the easy rider myth.
This is my journey; it taught me a lot. Let it inspire you, everything is true as I remember it.

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  •  English
  • ASIN: B07KCJ6TDL
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Out soon on Amazon!

Riding Towards Shadows

 

Out soon on Amazon!

 

This is a short story to a long ride. As short as it may be, it has influenced my life for so many years now that it almost seems I have never been without it.

When fate strikes, you struggle to cope and move on. But your unable to leave the pain behind, it follows you. You cannot ride fast enough to escape your past. You can only ride on and hope it will get easier one day.

The man I loved died not knowing that I loved him. He died on the day I wanted to tell him that I did, that I saw the future he saw for us, too. That I believed in us and him and against all odds was finally willing to try.

It was too late.

Rob MacGregor crashed into a concrete bus shelter, veering his Harris Kawasaki to avoid an old man slowly crossing the road and died. He was 36 years old.

I never told him what I felt, and I would never get the chance now.

What did he think of in his last moment, lying on the warm Glasgow tarmac drawing the stale summer air into his lungs for the very last time?

His life, his friends, his pain?

Me?

 

Nellie Merthe Erkenbach: Riding Towards Shadows

ebook and paperback

ISBN: 9781729495285

Caledonia Calling

The following blogpost is a chapter of my book Riding Towards Shadows that will be published this month ….. 

 

“Twenty years this summer.” I thought.

It was twenty years that Rob was dead and I was still crying for him, the pain always there, it would not soften, was as sharp and constant as it had been for so long. It was high time I faced my demons. They’ve had power over me for far too long.

Riding Towards Shadows Nellie Merthe ErkenbachI had to go back to say good-bye properly. Something I never did, and I thought he needed a proper send-off. I needed a proper send-off because in a way I never buried him. It had proved to be impossible to let go without, but I needed to let go and therefore I needed to go north.

No. I needed to ride north, up to Scotland again.

I was standing on a platform waiting for my next train connection. The wind was cold and strong and the smell of rain and chips that was wafting over from some food stall must have reminded me of Glasgow. Why else would I think of Scotland and Rob while I was standing in Cologne train station waiting for my connection that was half an hour late. I was in a bad mood because I didn’t like travelling on a train, especially not on a Saturday evening, when the trains were full of football fans drunk and in any other way as annoying as they possibly could be.

“No, I don’t like your singing. Can I be left in peace? Leave me in peace to think for fuck’s sake!”

“Olé, olé, olé, olé!”

He died on his motorcycle, I lived on for twenty years, riding but never really getting away from him. Maybe I could let him go by going back. I had never really had put my boots down here. I lived here but I had left my heart in Scotland.

Riding Towards Shadows Nellie Merthe Erkenbach

A football supporter two rows in front of me started throwing up, retching, smelling, cheered on by his friends. The odour of sour beer and sick made me sick, too. I got up. This was my lucky day. We were approaching my destination; I could get off this train. I felt sick of it all. Something had to change, I had to sort out my life.

Glasgow it was. I would take twenty days off work to ride back twenty years. It seemed very appropriate.

The Tennent’s advert of those days still stuck in my head: Caledonia. This guy has this epiphanic moment and leaves his successful life in London to come back to his pals in Scotland for a pint and happiness.

Nellie Merthe Erekenbach Riding Towards ShadowsWell, I knew ads worked with dreams, I worked for television. This ad worked with my dream and it worked well even after twenty years.

 

The decision was made, and I had half a year to organise everything.

I made a list: I wanted to do this big send-off trip, I wanted to meet as many of the old crew as possible, I wanted a tattoo and I wanted to live my dream.

Caledonia was calling me, and I was going home.

 

road movie turned book

I am in the last stages of publishing my book which was inspired by this blog but will be so much more than that. 

Riding towards Shadows Nellie Merthe Etkenbach

Riding Towards Shadows is my very own road movie turned book, a true journey to my heart, my way of dealing with the demons of my past; love, death, and redemption.

Arriving in my forties, I started asking myself who I really was, what my life was about and where I wanted to go from here. I had a successful career as a journalist, but something was missing and there was still a twenty-year-old unsolved issue. The man I loved had died in a motorcycle accident in the early 1990s in Glasgow, Scotland. I never told him I loved him. He never knew, or did he? The pain had never left me.

It was time to give him the send-off he never had. And it was time to face the shadows from my past.

That was the beginning of this journey.

All lovers of road movies know one thing; the means of transport plays a major role in this. I have been a biker all my life, now was the time to go for the real thing. I bought a Harley-Davidson and rode north, a thousand miles towards my past; not knowing, what or who I would find. Could it be peace and awareness?

Harley-Davidson woman myth legendI hope my search for inner and outer freedom, my way of dealing with my sorrow, and my determination to do things my way, especially as a woman facing so much sexism and stereotypes, will appeal to some and maybe inspire others. Never cease to dream.

Of course, this is also a story for all those lovers of road movies, motorcycles and the easy rider myth.

This is my journey; it taught me a lot. Let it inspire you, everything is true as I remember it.

 

Riding towards Shadows … soon to be published on Kindle Direct Publishing.

 

 

I call my freedom liberté

Rhine On a sun soaked autumn afternoon I took the Harley for a run, took it because I can.

It might sound slightly obamaesque but that was the main reason apart from warm weather and time on my hands.

Yes, I can.

border to FranceI took it for a run as a statement because statements need to be made just now. Now more than ever, especially statements about freedom.

Normally I would probably have taken a route through France; not only because it is picturesque and quiet but also because it is close and I do the trip to France often, be it for cheaper petrol, tastier cheese or just the fun of being in another country. After all, France is just a 20 minutes ride away.

France is so close

But I didn’t enter France this time, too many controls at the border and a distinct feeling of unease after the terror attacks. I did not want to face police and military all geared up with deadly weapons checking me out. I wanted to celebrate life, feel joy to be alive on the bike after the death toll of Paris. I wanted to get the pictures out of my head, people dying, panicking, and desperate to escape. I wanted to feel free.

To feel free is difficult these days

borderI turned round and shirked France. Only to be stopped in my own country soon afterwards (I was already well away from the border at that time) by the police. Random vehicle checks they said but they didn’t even bother with the exhaust or possible illegal parts on the Harley. That was a first!

Terror throws its dark shade over all of us these days. Fear and retaliation is part of any news item the tv channels broadcast, everybody talks war and the politicians all sound like Churchill to me: “We shall never surrender.” Just like Winston Churchill 1940. We all know how deadly and brutal that war was. There are wargrave aplenty along the Rhine.

Freedom has become fragile

selfie with FranceHow often have I written about riding my motorcycles, how it means freedom to me. And now I am aware how fragile joy and freedom can be, and how importat freedom really is.

All it takes is a massive terror attack just across the border and it is threatened. The retaliation has started, bombs fall over Syria and France is somehow not abroad anymore. It is here and everywhere the terrorists can fire bombs.

The bike now hibernates under white sheets for winter. Strange thoughts of burial and death sheets went through my head as I made her ready to rest for a few months. In France they bury the dead but they do not bury in what they believe: in freedom.

France is everywhere and this is why I call the freedom I got on my run liberté: Out of anger and defiance of anybody who kills at random, subdues women and tries to take away our freedom.

 

I fear a new age is dawning and it is not a happy one. The fight for freedom has begun. I am just not sure if everybody is aware of the other thing Churchill said 65 years ago. That they would fight “…whatever the cost may be.”

sunset over France

 

There might be a high price to pay for La Liberté.

 

amazing encounters

Funny, how a motorcycle can form an immediate bond between perfect strangers, I have encountered that a number of times lately.

Kirschblüten Ortenau (7)I work for television and have taken up writing as well. My next book, a travel guide for bikers to the Black Forest (Southern Germany), is due to be published in autumn and I am in the middle of research and photo shoots. On the Harley of course.

Seelbach (13)The more people I meet, the more I am fascinated by the power of my bike as a common denominator; it immediately establishes trust because you know, you share an experience, a dream even.

Even in places that have absolutely nothing to do with bikes or bikers, I find them, those who have the same passion.

Seelbach (15)

In a pottery in Seelbach I met a wonderful guy called Georg the other day. Turns out he used to have a bike as well. And his bike (him being German it was of course a BMW) was the reason why he was able to train as a potter all those years ago.

He took his future boss out on a ride, who enjoyed the run so much, he gave George the apprenticeship. Now he runs his own beautiful pottery. Thanks to his BMW.

Do we not all know stories like this, where the bike has really made a difference and has even changed the course our life was taking?

Seelbach (19)I guess this is what I love most about this book project – meeting people, hearing their stories, taking pictures of their work and finding out more about the power of  riding a bike.

What absolutely and utterly amazes me is the fact, that even though you seem to have nothing whatsoever in common with some people: you have, the minute you start talking bike.

when the season ends

20141101_151243newThe autumn sun had sent rays of intense golden light and the vibrant forest colours just seemed to wait to be enjoyed.

An unusual warm spell and the even more unusual event of a Saturday free of work coincided.

I just couldn’t help it.

I needed to take the Harley for a run.

20141101_141039

20141101_151348Lucky bikers who live where winter never hits. I don’t and I know, on this very spot, there will be snow soon, maybe in a few days. It is always early up on the mountains.

20141101_150343I wasn’t the only one today who felt compelled to ride since it could just be the last day of the year you could. Bikers were everywhere and so were tourists; complete and utter mayhem.

Guess I wasn’t the only one who felt it might be the last chance today.

The last ride of the season always feels very different from the first. Now the bike is a long and trusted friend moving smoothly in the rhythm you want.

In spring it will feel like meeting your lover after you have been apart for a long time. You need to overcome a certain shyness and restraint first.

But now, at the end of the season, the closeness is complete and you don’t want it to end.

Why is it that we always want the things we can’t have most?

20141101_151332I just know I will think about my bike all winter, counting the days until spring.

The motorcycle cycle is cruel to addicts like me.