I cannot tell when I first fell in love with motorcycles. I can tell you that I had not ridden one, nor even touched one, when I did. I’m not even sure I had seen one. I think perhaps it was how my dad talked about them. He’d ridden for years. Whenever he talked about them his voice grew warm and affectionate in a way it didn’t when he talked about cars, and he loves cars. He owns two classic cars currently and when I was little he owned his 1969 Camaro and his drag racing car. If he loved motorcycles more than those, they must be something special.
The first time I rode on a motorcycle I was terrified but determined. I don’t know how I knew, but I knew that this was a love that was going to last a lifetime so I was determined to set out on my first ride. My father had just gotten a Valkyrie. The day was fine and I’d been asking to be taken on a ride for weeks.
My parents must have seen how important it was to me. I am very risk adverse and yet I was asking to do something I was clearly terrified to do. My soul had spoken and it would not be silenced.
After putting on a leather jacket and a helmet I climbed onto the giant backseat of the motorcycle that resembled a recliner more than the back of a bike. My heart was pounding and I was convinced I was going to fall off and be severely injured at any moment. The gravel drive caused the bike to bump up and down increasing my surety that my mortal peril was at hand. We turned left onto asphalt and the ride became much smoother. Our biggest challenge laid just a quarter mile away, the highway, traffic. My father crossed the five lanes with ease and, after the jarring passage over the railroad tracks, we were on a country back road with gradual curves that was surrounded by trees and farmland.
I remember the moment I forgot my fears. We were passing a pasture filled with cows. My father pointed it out as he had all the things of note in our journey. I saw a small calf leaping and jumping and bounding about with joy I had never seen before. I was mesmerized. I had never seen a calf leap before.
On a motorcycle, you aren’t passing through the world, you are in it. I was able to smell the cows, hear the birds, feel the road in a way I had never before done. My soul had been right, this was a love I would keep forever.