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!

 

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addiction, passion, obsession

I am nuts. I know that. Crazy because I have this passion for riding bikes.

It has become rather addictive now. I enjoy the Harley thoroughly.

But…..

I want more. So I went and got another bike. I had seen it late at night on the internet and drove to the dealer who was selling it the next day.

A couple of local men were standing at the counter as I walked in. I saw the Intruder in the show room straight away. What a dangerous looking beauty. I walked around, taking in every detail. So were the guys at the counter.

A woman, all by herself……???? They exchanged glances. What is she doing here…???

I ignored them while I adored the 1400 cc engine. It was in good nick.

When I asked if I could take her for a test drive the local jaws dropped simultaneously.

I took my helmet and jacket out of the car. In the meantime  the shop owner had maneuvered the bike outside in front of the entrance.

Suzuki Intruder VS 1400

Sitting down I realized just how big that bike was. And what a sound it had. It felt a very male thing to me. I can’t say why. Much more than my Sportster did.

I took off and felt a bit wobbly at first. The sound was fantastic. I soon came to the first roundabout. Some challenge that was!

custom

That was the moment when I was sure.

I would take it. And why?

Because it was not an easy bike to ride and not at all a girlie one.  That one would probably cause me a lot of trouble and nerves.  I would fear every tight corner I had to master. And I would relish the challenge. I had to have it. A beautiful and loud piece of ultimate emancipation.

I parked her in front of the entrance and walked in, putting the key on the counter. The locals were still standing there, openly staring now and not even pretending, that they had anything to do in there anymore.

“”I take it.” I said and smiled. “I need another one.”

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?

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.

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.