We’ve all drawn a line in the sand about one thing or another, as in, “I will never get a tattoo of my boyfriend’s name,” or, “I would never break the speed limit.” OK; well, maybe no one here has said that, but you get the point. I have learned, however, that it’s not always wise to publicly announce my personal rules and regulations because invariably I will have to eat those words. And knowing my friends the way I do, I will forever be reminded of those once-definitive pronouncements.
On a recent ride back from the Outer Banks of North Carolina, the rain had accompanied me all the way north through Virginia and well into Maryland. Although it was clear by the time I got to Lewes, Delaware, there were only two other motorcyclists on the ferry to Cape May, New Jersey. They told me that they’d wanted to go for a nice, long ride but it was so cold and windy that they decided to go straight to Atlantic City instead. One of the guys eyed the windshield on my FLD and said, “I have windshield mounts on my bike but the windshield is still with the guy I bought the bike from.” I responded, “You might need that windshield. Better get it while the getting’s good.” He laughed, “My buddy here won’t ride with me if I have a windshield.” I pondered that for a minute, and asked, “Isn’t it all about freedom? Ride what you want, how you want?”
I had the same attitude when I first got my bike. I thought they detracted from the looks of the bike, and that it wasn’t cool to ride with one. My stance changed quickly when I took my first ride to Laconia without one. On that trip, the rain and the wind beat me up so badly I could barely get out of bed the next morning.
The other guy walked over to my bike, rubbed his fingers along the edge of my windshield, and sniped, “Well, windshields are OK for a girl, I guess.” I asked him to please clean his fingerprints off my windshield—surprisingly he did—and told them about my rides to Sturgis, Daytona and the like. I asked how far they’d ever ridden. Crickets.
I thought about other “never” decrees I’d made. The first winter I owned a bike, I’d purchased some heated gear. The guys I rode with teased me unmercifully, as they were of the ilk that wore Carhartt overalls for bad-weather protection. The heated gear at that time really was a pain to manage, with its multiple power cords and controllers. I’d get off the bike, start walking and the cord to the battery would yank me backwards because I forgot to disconnect it. And more than once the end of a connector would end up in the toilet while I was answering nature’s call. After that winter, I decided to just bundle up in layers until the past few years when I realized that the cold was not only making me miserable and taking too much extra time (every half hour in the cold required a 15-minute stop to warm up), but it was actually dangerous. So I acquired new gear—technology has sure improved since those early days—and now I’m warm and happy, although I still sometimes forget to detach the cord from the battery before I dismount.
Another proclamation was, “I don’t trailer.” Yet despite my strong desire to ride my bike everywhere, there’s been a time or three when I just couldn’t, either due to weather—as in an ice storm—or time limitations. That said, every time I trailer, something happens to the bike. The first time, my Sportster wouldn’t start when it came off the trailer. I guess it didn’t like being hauled from Daytona while sitting outside in the snow. The second time, one of my friends stripped the Dyna’s risers while tying it down, and until I could get them fixed, every little bump was an adventure in trying to control the handlebars. And there’s always the skewed mirrors that I can’t seem to get back into the correct position.
At one time, I’d refused to do any long-distance riding with anyone else, preferring to deal with only my own quirks rather than everyone else’s. I broke that vow a few years ago when I rode with a group to Sturgis. Let’s just say that after only 24 hours, I left the pack and continued the rest of the ride solo. But that’s a story for another day.
I will never wear pink! For some reason, many manufacturers believe that the way to get women to buy their apparel is to make it in pink. Or have pink highlights. And flowers. Sprouting out of the eyes of skulls. I’ve got nothing against your taste in clothing or your color preferences, but for me, it just doesn’t work. For one thing, there’s the grease factor. Any light-colored clothing in which I’m garbed is guaranteed to be streaked with some sort of unidentifiable substance before I even leave my garage. But when I saw a pair of riding shoes that I absolutely had to have, and the only color available for women was charcoal gray with pink piping, I swallowed my pride, telling myself that the pink signified rebellion, if only against my own rules. They’re the most comfortable shoes I own.
Yet another imperative: I’d long ago decided that I would never buy another new bike. My FXD was already three years old with a few thousand miles on the odometer when I purchased it, and that bike has been a dream. I figured that if I ever wanted another bike, it would also be “pre-owned.” Until I saw the just-released Switchback, that is. I had to have her. Sure, she had a few first-model-year glitches, and it’s been an up-and-down love affair, but we’re a team now, she and I.
You’d think I would have learned by now that rigidity serves no one.