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How I fell in love... with a motorcycle part 5

    • 266 posts
    November 21, 2016 5:14 PM EST
    ...the end of a long and winding road part 5

    I ached with desire. An unseasonably warm, open winter exacerbated my thirst to ride. Seeing motorcycles rolling by my farmhouse in January was surreal. But I knew the bike was going to look better than I had ever known it to. So I waited. It would run well, even without the recommended top-end rebuild. So I waited. For our adventures, it would be just fine; this thought was the plot of many winter night dreams. So I waited... that and... I. Love. This. Bike.

    The year-end holidays came and went without comment. Somewhere in those frosty temp weeks of boredom, the unremarkable winter day came; the stink bomb was dropped; he declared his wishes and we went our separate ways in Feb 2016. The bike was still in pieces on the wrench's table 3miles away. I had passed the snow-less winter looking forward to the first ride, to a new season pursuing my chosen escape from my limits, the mini furloughs from the complexities of my MS, and to enjoy the comfort of our shared passion for his motorcycle.

    Instead, a sudden redirection in expectations exploded un-gracefully. A six year riding relationship terminated like a RIF pink slip evoking a complex soup of emotions, that always simmered down to anger... adrift, disoriented, heart-broken. That shovelhead facilitated freedom for me. While I didn't have a penny spent on the rehabbing of the bike, I did have lots of time and "foot work" finding the shops, the wrenching-wizard, the coveted decals for the finishing touch. It introduced me to the other ridding world of secret roads, lost places and the symbol of my generation's "counter-culture appetite". Loosing my ex-bikerman's friendship was bitter, loosing my connection to this bike was brutal.

    The winter continued to present mild weather; bikes continued to roll by on open roads. The giant snow plows had barely touched the lanes. As this was very unlikely this far north in Vermont, there was no urgency in the November scheduling of the bike's redo. Parts were waiting for paint but that shop was on winter hours with no rush to proceed. There were small parts on order to wrap up the works. While the roads had no snow or even chloride-laden-aggie anywhere, there were still too many frost heaves and pot holes too make riding pleasant. It was okay to wait; until, the end of March and the bikes were a daily sight past my dooryard.

    For me, seeing or even hearing motorcycles go by on a regular basis, is a painful tease. While I cannot drive my own, I rode as a pillion on a vintage Harley. I would daydream ways that I could somehow, with custom accommodations, ride my own. Then the squarish scar on my leg, from an earnest effort to learn in '09, is a vivid reminder that I am not safe on two wheels at parking lot speeds; I jog my mind back to reality at hand, the riding season ahead. Inching through the psuedo-winter days, I would pester the wrench followed by an e-pal choreography with ex-bikerman, to arrange a final ride on the good-as-original '84 LowRide.

    The day finally came, May 21. The grass was brilliant green, trees were barely budding, some farm fields were getting attention and he zipped me a note that "...tomorrow he would pick up the bike and take me for a ride", a final ride. I stated "I'd like a long run, to Newport at least, to the little mom&pop place we had lunch for the first time..." He countered with his desire to goto a favorite lakeside pub and grill; the East Side. He arrived in my door yard as promised; it was a nice enough day to go open face with my favorite scarf and my usual retro Harley jacket. Gloves on, camera ready, mount up and good to go. Just like old times, only it was the last time.

    Heading out the door yard, we directed our journey east and north, east and south then finally west. Over familiar roads past memorable landmarks we would roll that shovelhead on and on. Catching farms shaking off winter and preparing for spring and a short VT growing season in most of the small towns. It felt good to be seated on this vintage ride; enjoying the newly upholstered seat with passenger pegs in perfect placement for my longish legs. If I let my mind wander to our past rides thru most seasons and all weather, I would feel the lump of sorrow rising in my throat. I will miss this bike and the adventures it took me on. While this bikerman preferred the less traveled lane, avoided group riding and busy places, he was the master of this machine, no poser here and that kind of competence would be hard to come by going forward.

    His fearless driving style took us on secret roads to lost places and even ancient cross-ways usually only available to snow machines and dirt bikes. This shovelhead, in its uncomplicated design, was not only allowed on barely-class-4 roads, it encouraged such exploration. I was playing to my fantasy of riding in the nostalgic postcards of dress-casual, smiling, 2Up couples enjoying a country outing on their steel horse. This not-fancy dyna class cruiser let me live my dreams as a retro biker chic behind a skilled motorcyclist. When we did troll a bike show, the trademark rumble of its hardened pipes would turn heads and embolden comments. Vintage was authentic; the real deal in the biker world and I got to be part of that.

    As the ride progressed, we took lunch at the East Side, we rolled along some favorite places in the North East Kingdom. The bike ran well, sputtering only once the way a shovelhead will. It was my first long ride for this year; almost five hours of riding, leaving me fatigued and saddle sore. The usual vibration and basic suspension was not supporting my weakened muscles well; I knew that, as much as I loved this bike, I would not be able to endure its shortfalls in comfort for another season. Yet I beamed a smile at how very grateful and privileged I was to ride thousands of miles on it; to ride the way motrcycles were invented to be, before they became trophies at bike nights and rallies. The miles this day, were coming to an end and the joy of the ride was eclipsed by frustration and futility as my neighborhood came into view.

    My enthusiasm for motorcycling and for vintage models is largely due to this shiny cruizer. Shovelheads were the last engine model that embodied that original spirit of adventure, on and off the paved lane. These bikes were "the last wild horses" out there, symbolic of our rebellious era of fight or flight. The visceral biker paintings by David Mann were often of Shovelheads. Sometime along, in those riding seasons, I fell deeply in love with this quirky Harley V-Twin, the way I would love a plain but faithful brown horse. Standing at my gate as I watched it fade into the sweeping distance, I would feel the same weight of death toll grief as if it were a favorite horse laid to rest. I was ride weary, numb with loss and overwhelmed with the feeling of being left behind. That kind of adventure and freedom would be a hard act to follow, if I could manage to find rides and then I remembered.

    If that shovelhead taught me anything, it taught me how to carry on with no worries about limits; to carry on with the best you've got in the places no one would expect you to go.

    peace ~ resa
    This post was edited by Pillion Resa at November 28, 2016 6:32 PM EST
    • 202 posts
    November 21, 2016 7:48 PM EST
    A Beautiful Story of Love for a Motorcycle and the Adventures it brought you and many of us here on BP. I know that the Shovel and Bikerman will always remain in your memory and you will produce that Smile we all know and Love xo
    • 25 posts
    November 22, 2016 11:20 PM EST
    Well-written expression of your feelings. Sorry for your loss, cherish the memories!
    • 2 posts
    November 24, 2016 1:09 AM EST
    Excellent story. Do you have any others?
    • 16 posts
    November 24, 2016 2:38 AM EST
    Felt like I was there as I read your story, very moving, literally. Not many have the chance to really enjoy and you did, I hope you can continue the ride Sister. Peace
    • 69 posts
    November 27, 2016 5:13 PM EST
    Hi Resa, Love the story, I feel you. You're a good writer. Compliments!! with love René
    • 266 posts
    November 28, 2016 6:36 PM EST
    thanks for your kind words. For them who've asked, there are other stories including the first 4 parts to this one, on my blog you can copy and paste into your browser if you're interested..
    • 2 posts
    November 29, 2016 1:27 AM EST
    really liked the canoeing story.