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!

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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.

anything like it

I took my Harley for a ride yesterday. It was way over 30 degrees so I was out with no leathers but denims and t-shirt. In addition to the long blonde hair I was quite obviously a woman, which seems to be a confusing thing for some men – on a Harley.

I had enjoyed the fresh coolness of the wind on my naked arms for a little while as I reached a traffic light in a little village along the way. I sneaked past the row of waiting cars and steered her right in front of the first one, a big SUV. The heat of the engine underneath me drifted up in waves. The SUV suddenly moved closer.

What the .… does he think he’s doing? I thought when I heard a slightly high-pitched male voice that sounded very excited out of the open car window.

Wow! It cried out. I have never seen anything like it.

A woman on a Harley? I wondered half surprised half pleased but aloud.

Yes he nodded wildly. But I think it’s great.

And he obviously had a great need to tell me so.

His wife in the passenger seat however didn’t look as if she found that great at all. The kids in the back just stared. And I drove off, the lights had turned green.

Why is it sexy when women break with gender roles? It doesn’t work the other way round. We might appreciate a man doing housework. But it is far from sexy when they do.

Probably this is another aspect why I feel this bike enhances female power. By refusing to submit to expectations you gain self-respect and even receive admiration. Well, sometimes.

I wonder if his wife was thinking about role models and the unfairness of it, too. I bet she did.

And rightly so.

This Harley has more influence on my self-respect, my sense of power and strength than anything else.

Funny since it is such a male thing, isn’t it?

united

I finally made the step towards her and took her for a ride. She felt mine again, safe and familiar.

United.

Isn’t it strange to behave like that? Treating a machine like a partner you haven’t seen for some time. The first encounter after a long time is often awkward and full of insecurity. What if…? You lose trust with absence and the lack of trust intensifies your insecurity.

It was but a short moment of hesitation. Back in the saddle everything was as it should be the minute I heard the two pistons hammering away, as if we were united if by nothing else by the mere magic of sound.

How much I had missed that and how little I had been willing to admit that to myself. The brutal wave of happiness and power was rolling over me.

On the road I felt we were gleaming like a wild star. Heads turned. Jaws dropped. I rode with a grin that wasn’t going away but was safely hidden behind the scarf round my mouth.

Smiles need to be internal here.

I passed a lot of bikers on that day, as you do in summer. Seeing, greeting, passing, it takes not more than seconds. But still I was very sure that only very few felt like me.

You own a touring bike, that is very reliable or a racer, that is very fast, a vintage bike, that takes up most of your time. BUT… you do not have a but. You do not have this thing that feels like a proper relationship. Or do you? I don’t think so.  

Unless you own a Harley.

 

 

 

 

postponing

I think I am going crazy, nuts, demented. This is surely a weird state of mind I am in just now. I am postponing. Procrastinating.

After having been away for a few weeks you should think the first thing I do on my return is check on my Harley. Take her out for a ride. At least start the engine and enjoy the sound.

No!

I didn’t. I couldn’t.

The door to the garage remained closed for two days. Grey plastic separates me from my bike, an unmoved obstacle,  that and a hitherto unknown hesitation to face her.  Why don’t I?

For so many days I had missed her, thought about her, wanted her. Now she is within my reach and I do not dare to reach out. Maybe I want to prolong the pleasure, to extend the happiness that soon ….

A touch of fear might be part of it, too. Having a dream is easy. Living with it is a challenge I am not prepared to face, yet. I can feel her waiting for me. At least I think I can.

And still I procrastinate.

After two days I have finally managed to open the garage today. I had to take the car out. There she was, sitting under three crisp white bed sheets. Hidden away. Clean. Waiting.

I never looked. I took the car out and drove away. Parked it again tonight right next to her and never looked. I shirked the encounter. I am not ready, yet.

I will be on Sunday. I think.

The Real Thing

I went on a ride into the past recently and caught up with an old friend I hadn’t seen for twenty-two years. We were bikers then and both ride a Harley now, the same model even.

But that is as far as the similarities go. We each went very different ways in different countries until we met up again after what seemed to be a whole lifetime. What was perhaps the most surprising thing about it was, we were still in many ways the same people we used to be. Although so many things had changed for both of us.

Was it the Harley that provided the common ground?

In those twenty-two years I had turned from a student of literature into a journalist travelling the world.

He still wears colours, is a member of an old and widely respected international motorcycle club, the real thing. He had lived his dream all his life.

I had only dreamt it, not lived it.

But we have both made the Harley real.

So is it our dreams that make us what we are while our lives are just what happens depending on our respective conditions of socialization?

Are there perhaps more ways than just one to be the real thing and live it?

Or does your machine make you what you want to be?

There needs to be a clear NO to the last question. We were bikers then, even on Japanese manufactured motorcycles. Milwaukee iron certainly makes things easier but it can’t change everything.

It will not do, to buy a Harley-Davidson, trademark boots and a jacket and logoed shirts and all the rest of it. It won’t make you the real thing at least not in everybody’s eyes.

But maybe the bike starts a process that will get you there eventually, even a woman, even in the eyes of one who would never let a woman life his style of life.

I think now and even more so after I have caught up with him after such a long time, that it is the dream that does it. That makes us real and then eventually even the real thing.

You end up with enough common ground to cover the differences life has dealt out to each of us.

Common ground. That seems ridiculous if you look at it from a neutral perspective. But it isn’t ridiculous at all when you look at it, sitting in the saddle of your Harley-Davidson.

It was great meeting you pal! Ride safe.

Cowboys

I watched Pale Rider last night. Having had thoughts about John Wayne and his deputies in my last post, Clint Eastwood suddenly turned up and made me think even more about Cowboys.

Isn’t that just the image you want to create on  a Harley?

The lonesome Cowboy, just him and his horse and the endless horizon, never to be messed with when he enters the saloon.

Don’t we know it all? See it right in front of us?

No frontiers, American dream, no roots, no mercy.

Do all bikers crave the beauty of a life as wild as a cowboy’s?

Some do. I do.

But I am a woman.

“I wish I could grow a beard.” This thought flashed through my brain watching Clint Eastwood get on his horse, eyes like steel looking round.

The wish, spoken out loud, got a reply.  “The boys wouldn’t like it!”

The boys wouldn’t like it???

Why should I care what they like? On my Harley, I don’t. I refuse to be judged by their standards.

But what are my standards? How to be a female cowboy. With no beard! Well, theoretical beard.

Where are the strong mythical female figures? The tough chicks?

How can you be cool without a beard?

There is no myth to support us.

Pale rideresses???

No!

If we don’t want to be judged by male standards, we need to create our own.