Wednesday, September 30
As long as you're not hurting anyone or violating some universally recognized ethical standards and the law, or jeopardizing your bread and butter, the strange (by other people's standards) things you're accused of doing don't have to make sense to anyone but you! I seem to attract people (and family/friends) who feel the need to share motorcycle horror stories with me. Complete strangers come up to me and say some variant of the following: “I knew a guy who rode motorcycles for years and one day was killed just going to the store—so you could get really hurt or killed—it's dangerous out there.” Or, “I have a friend whose has been riding for 30 years and he finally gave it up because he was having close calls and too many of his friends were getting killed.” Why am I subject to this? I usually stand there, listen politely. I show with little or no affect. I don’t know how to look more disinterested. I refuse to engage the unsolicited advice beyond saying, “Thank you for sharing that.” But in my head I'm really saying, “I am sorry that you know people who have been killed on a motorcycle and that's why you want me to find another hobby. When people are involved in car accidents do you tell them to stop driving, or hit by cars as pedestrians, do you tell them to stop walking and to find another hobby? I bet not. I know you mean well but you are not being helpful. I find you annoying.” Of course, I never say this.
So, today I have at least three things pressing on my mind that prompted this little screed. Read it in good humor--but I'm serious about every word!
Screed #1: Here is my response to all those who feel an urgent need to tell me, “you shouldn't ride alone. It's dangerous.” Breathing is dangerous too but I do it. I ride solo. I prefer it. I ride to be alone. I know the risks. I accept the risks. Riding with someone, anyone, on a regular basis would cause me to quit riding. I see no fun in riding with others. I know lots of people have tons of fun riding with others. I think that's just great. For them. It's not for me. When I ride it’s “all about me and the ride.” If that sounds “selfish,” so be it. I don't want to negotiate anything. Staying safe on the road is as much negotiating as I care to do. No, I don't need “the husband” or anyone to keep me safe. Yes, there are people out there who might want to assault me because I am a woman, alone, and a host of other attributes a nut case can use as an excuse to do me harm. I can't worry about that. According to statistics, I have more to fear from family members and friends than I do from strangers. So, family/friends I am on guard around all of you.
Actually, I can hide at home, rarely venturing out, and a stray bullet can come through the window and kill me. Thus, staying at home can be deadly! I can't and I won't live being afraid to come and go as I please. The focus, concentration, and the unadulterated fun of riding, for me, is disrupted when I have ridden with others. I am thinking, worrying, and negotiating with someone about when, where, and what the plans are. My bladder has a mind of its own and, like me on two wheels, does not play well with others. So, well-intentioned family/friends, stop it. You're wasting your time and you should know that by now. If I'm killed out there, you have my permission to say, “I told her so.” Now, won't that make you feel better knowing you were right? (Disclaimer: to all those I have had occasion to ride with, it has been fun because it has been so rare that I can enjoy it knowing that it will probably never be repeated).
Screed#2: I happily ride to Wisconsin to get the warranty work done on my Beemer rather than taking it to the “local” dealership. I bought it from a BMW dealer 25 minutes and less than 20 miles from my residence. It's the second bike purchased from the nearby dealership—I really like the sale manager and would not hesitate to purchase another bike from him. However, I will not ever get warranty work done there (well, I shouldn't say “not ever,” but it will be a hot day in Chicago in February before I do!). Therefore, I ride over 100 miles—one way--and nearly 2 hours in bad traffic (and the traffic from Chicago to Wisconsin is always bad) to get excellent service.
BTW, this dealership has free pick up and delivery from Chicago! I ride there instead because it is a great time to get some riding in. Negotiating the traffic, I believe, sharpens my riding and skills. Riding in hectic traffic is like riding in the rain. Some riders try to avoid riding in the rain. If you're on the road, you will inevitably encounter rain at some point. Granted, it's not an ideal riding situation but the only way to learn to ride in the rain, is to ride in the rain. I live where traffic is robust; therefore, it doesn't freak me out because I've learned to ride in it. It's a challenge and risk I accept. So, well-meaning family/friends, it's either Milwaukee or Iowa City for warranty work. And, while I like the option of the free pick up and delivery, I don't plan to use it. Now, for all my other shop needs and accessories I go to Motoworks Chicago, best shop in Chicago hands down!
As an aside, my day in Wisconsin was filled with great weather, sites and a super lunch at Beans & Barley. Took in some sites along Wisconsin's Lake Michigan. And, at 6:45 pm while heading back to Chicago, I watched my five month old baby turned 7000 miles old.
Screed#3 I am not yet an official card carrying member of the Iron Butt Association but I have done two Saddle Sores (1000 miles in less than 24 hours) that remain unofficial. And, as soon as I can find where I've filed the paperwork, I'm submitting both rides for certification. I hope there is no statute of limitation as I did both some years ago. In any case, another one is in the plans. I enjoy long distance riding because it is mind cleansing. I know this doesn't make sense to certain family/friends. I don't seek or expect your approval. For some motorcyclist these Iron Butt rides hold no appeal. That's okay. The Japanese have a saying similar to our “different strokes for different folks,” and it's じゅうにん、といろ(Juu-nin to iro), which means ten men, ten tastes. We’re all different. Again, it doesn't hurt anyone that I get up and ride to Indianapolis or down to St. Louis and come home the same day. My Saddle Sore #1 was from Chicago to Waverly, Nebraska and back. Saddle Sore #2 was a straight shot to Golden, Colorado. My return trip was leisurely.
I have no habits or addictions that I spend money on—if you don't count books, fountain pens, Leuchttrum 1917 notebooks, motorcycle wear, and farkles for my bike. I'm kind to people and animals. Taking long day trips is a minor indulgence with huge dividends. I'm always happier when I return. So let me be. BTW, if you're really really worried about these long distance day trips why haven't you come forward demanding that I take your money and get a hotel room on your dime? Uh? Not that I would accept the offer. I'm just saying...
Am I the only one? Are there things your well-meaning family/friends/strangers don't get about your motorcycling fervor?