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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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? 

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!

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?

Thrill

For some very strange and obscure reason it is incredibly hard to describe feelings. You experience them in their intenseness but are at a loss when it comes to communicating them to others.
Emotions trigger song, poetry, stories, pictures, videos, blogs; all kinds of genres that all have one thing in common – they need more than a word to describe the feeling in its complexity.
Of course there are words for fear and joy and pleasure. But you do not really sit on a Harley-Davidson and think Oh yes, I feel pleasure just now.
You might on a BMW though….
Sorry, I should not be so cheeky. I know they are very reliable.
But not adorable.
Like mine is. Thrilling. That’s what she is.
When I ride her I feel like I am on a first date, butterflies and all. And I feel as powerful as a Viking God, deadly in his majestic cruelty. Nevertheless I still feel I am a woman, maybe even more one, oozing relentless sex appeal. Exceptionally different. A chosen outlaw because I will not accept the same rules as everybody else. Not on a Harley!
This is how she makes me feel.
Pretty much for a “just a machine”.