Buy Your Own

Applause as deafening as my Harley on full throttle. Score cards appeared…  8.9, 8.7, 9.2, 4.8… what?  4.8! Obviously a BMW rider’s score; they’re impossible to impress! The noise stopped and I realised it wasn’t applause. It was my bike. And I had a branch stuck in my helmet!

My husband had a new Harley, the sound of thunder wrapped in gleaming chrome; his seat felt like sitting on a soft fluffy cloud, my passenger seat the size of a brick, shaped like a brick and about as comfortable as a brick. After four excruciating hours, I swore, ‘I will never, ever get on that bike again!’

‘If it’s that bad, why don’t you get your own?’ Hubby batted back.

‘FINE!’ I huffed, hobbling away like John Wayne after a full day’s ride, ‘I WILL get my own!’ But as feeling crept back into my numb nether-regions, doubt crept into my mind.

I was 49. I’d sat on the back, but I’d never actually ridden a motorbike. Could I do this? Conflicted with excitement and terror, I bravely booked riding lessons. Ooooh… maybe I hadn’t completely thought this through…

Balance was required. No-one had mentioned balance. Balance and I are not the best of friends. I’m pretty sure when the gods were handing out balance, I toppled out of that line and missed my share. Coordination of hands, feet and brain was a problem for someone that trips over non-existent objects and can’t clap in time to a nursery rhyme.

Lucky for protective clothing!

Gloves, to conceal white knuckles of terror; ‘Hold the throttle like it’s a small bird you don’t want to crush,’ I was told. My bird would’ve been mush in seconds. Helmet, designed so no one hears you scream as obstacles randomly appear: cars and road signs suddenly litter the roads, traffic lights changing and expect you to stop! How do you know to stop with closed eyes! Leather jacket and pants, to conceal the smell of sh.. I mean fear, as you hurtle downhill at an alarming 10 kph, brakes near fully applied, knees gripping the tank with a force that could crush concrete; sweat was pouring down my back and my panting breath fogging up my helmet!

Praying for balance to magically appear and bring its friend coordination, I had just started to relax when the instructor said, ‘Follow me out of the carpark.’

A few months later I’ve got my own Harley. Hubby woke me one Sunday with, ‘Beautiful day for a ride and you need to practice.’ My stomach lurched. Did I really? I pouted through breakfast, not hiding my dread of riding on real roads. He glanced up from his toast and said, ‘You’re going!’ and I chucked a tantrum that would’ve made a three year old on a red-lolly-high proud. Hubby just sighed, handed me my helmet and got his bike ready.I rode off with Hubby dutifully following behind, muttering and grizzling to myself for about two kilometres. Then suddenly I realised I was loving it! I felt amazing! In fact, I felt so great I decided I’d cruise into McDonalds, grab a coffee and sit to admire my beautiful steel-steed. I chugged around the intersection in third, found second while over revving my way towards the McDonalds driveway and gathering all my coordination, balance and skill, flicked on the indicator, changed into first and turned left, all at the same time! Yay!

Nooooooo! I hit the curb! My steel-steed reared. I gripped the throttle with the strength of a Mongolian arm-wrestler and with full revs, eyed-off a bush; over the handlebars I went, face first into said bush, hanging there at its mercy, with a branch sticking into my helmet in protest. Hubby rushed over, shoved his hand through my legs lifting me by my crotch, off my bike. Yay! He was rescuing me… till I realised he was rescuing my bike, checking if it was ok! Looking like a leather-clad go-go dancer having a fit, I popped free of the bush, landing on my butt. ‘Your bike’s fine,’ Hubby offered. ‘Stay here; I’ll ride it home and come back with the car for you.’

What? Stay here! Never! I was dying of embarrassment! I jumped on my bike determined to get as far away as possible, but sitting with my fogged-up helmet, soggy gloves and sweaty leathers, looking towards the large, square windows of McDonalds I swear I saw scorecards…

Written by reader Cathy McGillivray, QLD


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