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Two Miles

that changed my life

There are a lot of firsts when we begin riding; our first solo adventure, our first mishap or accident, the first time we drop our bikes, the first time on a highway or interstate, the first-time navigating mountain roads.  I could go on and on, however the main point is that each of these things, some big, some not so much are milestones in our personal journeys.  They mean something to us, we all have our story, our riding journey.


Today I want to share one part of my riding journey, the first time I took my bike out solo.  It was late spring of 2009, the 1100 Honda Shadow was no more, the 1997 Sportster Hugger was at home in the garage.  I was considerably more comfortable on the Sportster and felt that I had more control with this bike than I did with the Shadow.  I had spent time in the seat of the ‘new to me’ bike riding next to my ex-husband (Rich), but I had only ridden when he was riding too.    

I needed to go over to my (at the time) son’s girlfriend’s parent’s house.  They lived exactly two miles door to door from our home, two miles.  The trip there was all back roads, some with a double yellow line down the middle, but most without that simple navigational guide.  I remember that it was a beautiful sunny day.  If you notice, the best motorcycle stories all start on beautiful sunny days!  Those rainy, stormy ones though they may make for an exciting story are simply not fun on a motorcycle! 

Have I lost my mind?

I was getting ready to get into my car, a silver Honda Element that I lovingly referred to as ‘my toaster’, because it really did resemble a toaster on wheels.  I loved that car, but I was learning to love my Sportster too.  I somewhat on a whim thought, “I should take the bike!”.  A bit of self-doubt crossed my mind, ‘Can I do this alone?’.  ‘Should I do this alone?’.  ‘Have I lost my mind?’. ‘What if I wreck?’.  ‘What if the bike breaks down?’.  ‘What if, what if, what if ….’.

I banished those negative self-doubts, or at least put them into a parking space in my brain for long enough to decide that I wanted to do it.  I was going to take my bike out, by myself and ride over to their house.  It was, after all, only two miles.  I mean I could walk there, so I could certainly ride a motorcycle that short distance alone.  I geared up, successfully got the bike out of the garage, closed the garage door and took off, albeit a bit tentatively out of the driveway.  I made it to the end of my development and made a right turn onto the road with a center yellow line, then one driveway later I made another right onto a back road without any center lines.  I remember that voice in my head being on repeat, ‘Breathe, you can do this, you got this, just keep going!’, and I did.  I made it down a small incline, up a small incline to the next stop sign.  I looked, right, then left, then right again, then left again.  I slowly let the clutch out and took off across the road to the next back road.  I made it, whew!!  Now, it was just houses and fields for a bit.  My confidence was building, until I saw my next obstacle, railroad tracks. No need to panic.  I have crossed these before, they were a bit rough, but I knew I could handle it.  I’m sure that I took a deep breath, reduced my gear and held on tight!  I’m almost there, just a bit farther and then a left into their development, then a couple of streets and another left, then a left into their driveway. 

I made it!

I made it!!  I was greeted by her parents.  I might add, simply wonderful people.  My grandchildren are quite fortunate to have such amazing grandparents on their mother’s side and such a terrific Mom-mom (me) on their father’s side!  Her Dad said something to me along the lines of, ‘Don’t take this wrong, but I could tell by the sound of the bike coming in that it was a new rider on the bike’.  I didn’t take offense at all.  I was a new rider, and not only was I a new rider I just rode my first solo ride!  I was thrilled.  I was feeling on top of the world, as if I could accomplish and conquer anything.  Well, anything except perhaps an interstate road at that time. 

Rich was home when I returned.  I vividly remember asking him, “Well, how long did you think it would be before I rode solo?”.  His response is something I will never forget.  He replied, “I never thought that you would.”  Now, I want to clarify how that was stated.  He did not intend that to be a negative statement at all.  He was genuinely surprised that I wanted to ride solo.  I believe in his mind that I would ride with him or perhaps with my son, but he could not imagine me taking the bike out alone. 

Forever Changed

That day changed my life.  It was one of those moments that when we look back and realize that we have those turning points or milestones in our lives that become the “before” an event and “after” an event changes to our worlds.  My confidence grew a tiny bit that day.  My world expanded that day, and my love of riding grew exponentially.  I needed to figure out what was going to be my next riding milestone or challenge.  There was a whole world out there to be explored ‘Shiny-side up’!

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