summertime … and the riding is easy

Shieldaig, Torridon

What is the perfect ride?

Scottish HighlandsMay be many things: a busy rally, a desert trip, a cruise along Sunset Boulevard – there are so many bikers out there, so many different ideas what a perfect ride should be like.

Even my own idea of a pefect run differs occasionally.

But very often, this one song goes through my head as my bike takes me to the horizon: Summertime and the living is easy….

 

chopper dreams

sea and gorseA perfect ride – what does it take?

Fun, for a start. And sun, not to forget. Me and my bike and some breathtaking scenery – that is a perfect ride for me. No breakdowns, no annoying cars, not a soul in sight.

Just summer and the coconut smell of Scottish gorse, a sea breeze and a powerful engine roaring through the wilderness.

….and the riding is easy indeed.

 

With a little treat – a fruit scone, home-made jam and cream when the road takes you back into civilisation.

Perfect!

 

Age starts in the head

on the roadFor a biker age is always the enemy, no matter what age he or she is.

Just think back on the time when you were a teenager and just could not wait until you were of age and finally allowed to ride.

How can you passionately wait? Who can count the endless nights you lay in bed dreaming of your future bike?

Age is agony when you don’t have it.

Things get better in your twenties. With a driving license and a passion for bikes, you are as close to heaven as you ever will be. You take on the most impossible trips, ride in the most impossible conditions and simply believe it is absolutely and utterly impossible that you will ever get old.

You do and you do realize that in your thirties, but nor because you feel any less about riding or ceased dreaming about it. No. You cherish and polish but underneath the sparkly surface you begin to feel the pain. After you have lost the first friend on the road, you see that age is: age is what some people never have.

Which then, in your forties, makes you wonder about the things you don’t have but always wanted. This is, where the Harley kicks in, at least it was in my case. And you fulfill that dream because now, you can. Now you must, because if you don’t, it might be too late.

HD Sportster 48 edition

rainy driveWith a lot of people I know, age becomes awareness of being old when you have turned fifty. Some never stop talking about it. Others try to hide it by dressing like they did thirty years ago. Most just don’t ride anymore because they feel old: their eyes find it difficult to focus at close range, their backs hurt after two hours straight riding and cold, rainy weather makes their bones sore. Age kills will.

I talked to the guy today. He used to own my other bike, the customized Suzuki Intruder.

I sold her because I found her just too difficult to handle and I never did more than two, three hundred miles a year on her.  I am 62 now I am too old for this so I bought a BMW. he said.

Suzuki VS 1400

I am determined never to get that old!

In my head I never want to be as old as that. I shall never resign to a BMW.

A bike is not for comfort, it is an expression of who you are. I thought so In my twenties and I do think so still.

And I am NOT a BMW!

 

 

 

wherever the road may take me

What is joy?

When the sun sends sparkling calls in the morning, when you have time to spend on what looks like a warm lazy summer’s day, and the road outside just seems to wait for you.

Joy is, when you have time to take the bike for a run and the weather is kind.

 

You get your gear together, that in itself is joy because you are anticipating what is to come, the smell of leather seems like the memory of past miles driven.

I can’t stop smiling. I take the bike for a run, I say.

Where are you going?

Now that is as philosophical as it can get.

Where am I going?

The most amazing fact about the solution to this quibble is – there is no need to know.

Utmost freedom is the answer. And that is pure joy.

I do not need to know where I am going. I don’t need a plan, a map a schedule. There aren’t many roads to take here and I know them all. I can’t get lost. So I can give the answer that includes all the freedom you can have on a bike.

I go wherever the road may take me.

Simple as that.

 

900 miles (part 1)

early startThere was no time to worry about it. After two days of travelling back from South America to Europe (a bus, two flights and a rental) I arrived home late at night, had a beer, repacked and went to bed. The jet lag would disappear somewhere along the 900 miles I had to go I hoped.

Next morning I woke up at 3, got up at 6 and started the engine at 7am sharp. The sound made my heart jump. I was on my way North; 900 miles just me and my new Suzuki Intruder. We had to go on this run north because I need a bike where my partner lives, which is unfortunately rather far from where I live.

The Harley stays at home.

I know my VS1400 is not a touring bike, far from it but all the more reason to feel great about doing it and about doing it alone. I like to have the freedom of riding alone. Yes, sometimes I miss the thrill you get out of riding in a posse. But my trip was different and personal.

I had got a lot of amazed incredulity when telling people what I was going to do – ride a chopper in two days from the South of Germany to the Scottish Highlands. Alone. Most women looked seriously shocked at the mere thought. Men mostly looked uncomfortable.

every 100 milesI wonder why? I have a credit card I can use; the bike is insured and has road coverage. My route takes me along busy European motorways, no deserts to cross anywhere, hardly an adventure, really.

So what is the problem? The only one I encountered on the first part of the trip to Rotterdam was my bum. Yeah, the seat looks great but it doesn’t feel it after two hours.

I must admit I was a bit nervous about going up the ferry with that long fork but it turned out no problem whatsoever.

There was a group of racers from the Isle of Man on the ferry with me. We gave each other a nod, no more. They must have thought it weird as well, that woman all by herself. So they rather didn’t talk.

nothwards boundHad I been a man, I am dead sure they would have been over in two seconds.

If a male biker is on a trip alone he is either cool or independent.

A woman on a bike, alone and unattached is strange and awkward to handle, it seems.

As if there was a difference.

No matter how far I travel, women still have a long way to go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harley City

I never expected this place to be a Harley place. Tells you how much I know about this world. Brazil is new territory for me.

HDI am in Rio de Janeiro and they are everywhere, parked on pavements, squeezing in between dense rows of traffic and roaring along the beach front late at night.

This is Barra de Tijuca, a noble suburb of Rio de Janeiro. It is young and it is rich and it is always warm, mostly sunny: A perfect place to own a bike. But the crime rate being as high as it is, it makes you wonder how on earth they manage hold on to their machines.

Barra de TijucaThe bikers seem as artificial as this place full of high rise flats and hotels along the vast stretch of white sand and blue water. I sat in front of a bar with a tattoo studio the other night and  the local MC turned up, one after the other. All shiny new Harley-Davidson models parked in a row. The guys sat down and their colours were as shiny as their exhausts. Brand new.

Owning a Harley-Davidson and wearing colours seem the necessary ingredients for life in one of the most intriguing cities in the world. It seems to go with the mentality of showing what you’ve got that seems an integral part of all areas of Brazilian life.

In a way a motorbike is equivalent to a new handbag or expensive shoes. Show-off material to let others see you are cool and you’ve got the means.

The upper middle class is taking over. At least in Harley city.sunrise

 

 

Daughters of Anarchy ???

Are you watching the Sons?

I have seen five seasons of Sons of Anarchy so far, but I still have rather ambivalent feelings towards the whole idea of portraying club life for a wider audience.

Who is watching it and why? Can’t be all bikers and guys wearing colours. I for a start am a woman and do not wear colours.

But it remains a rather odd choice of soap opera for ordinary people.

And why on earth do I like it?? Finding the true reason for my choice is surprisingly difficult.

Sons of Anarchy For a start, it is not really about bikes at all. Do you ever see a model in detail or close up for a longer shot? No studies in customizing, So it can’t be the bikes then. Because I have strained a few neck muscles trying to catch a glimpse of a handle bar or a fork, a riser or a foot rest.

The actors? Do their faces draw me in? No.

I still think of the ugly monk in The name of the rose when I look at “Clay”. I still see Peggy Bundy from Married …. with children in “Gemma”.

And it does not look like the real thing to me either. In my world, bikers do not wear white trainers. They have dirty hands from working on the bike. And they do not drive around in cars around all day and they certainly do not kill a man a week for drugs, women or revenge. Sons of Anarchy Kurt Sutter’s done a touch too much.

How can an outlaw drama series appeal to so many? I guess it is the touch of danger, action, the temptation of evil. Insight into a life very different from the nine to five with a semi and 1,4 children. It is more like watching a crime movie or a thriller. And it is very retro.

Why it appeals to a wider public is, because it is all about “family” in the end.

Sons of Anarchy – sometimes a true copy of club life, sometimes not.

I jut wish the women were a bit more anarchistic.

Gemma, the queen of the horde, the magna mater, the alpha female who gets raped and beaten by her husband, who kills to protect herself and her family, who rules from the background. She is in no way an emancipated women, not in the way she dresses, she behaves, she acts. She has no voice in the club but still people listen. An integral part without being allowed to be one. A part apart.

No colours for women.

Gemma

 

Women in the middle ages used their powers like that. Ancient queens like England’s Elisabeth I or Scotland’s Mary Stuart. More than 500 years ago.

Have we not come any further than that in the meantime???

We certainly need more Daughters of Anarchy!

on the radio

What do you need to do, to get your 10 seconds of fame? To be on the radio, to be recognized, noticed?

Being a biker it seems a fairly easy thing to achieve.

 

All you have to do is die.

 

What a brutal and ignorant media world this is out there!

It was the Easter week-end and I was on my way back home from work. I did what I very rarely do when I am in a car, I listened to the radio, looking for the traffic news because the motorway was very busy. International news, national news, regional news, sports, weather and then, just before the traffic, they had two more news items coming up that left me speechless.

“A 50-year-old biker was killed this afternoon in …, two hours later another one died near …. because he lost control over his bike in a long bend.”

on the radio

They never, never ever put dead car drivers on the news. Then why on earth a dead biker? Two even.

I fear it is partly this patronising attitude a lot of non-bikers have: we told you not to go so fast, we told you it is dangerous, we told you you could die…!

Ah, thanks very much. We didn’t know that. No, we never had a clue. We never lost a friend, a lover, a brother, a husband on the road, did we?

We know about the danger and we ride nevertheless. Some maybe do because of that.

People, who are no bikers never really understand.

The media have no right to be so patronising. No right to use the death of a biker as a juicy piece of tragedy at the end of the news.

I refuse to be instrumentalized by editors grabbing for higher ratings.

What biker would want these 10 seconds of fame?