After dinner tonight I rode in to town to have coffee with some of the guys. Along the way I was think ing about the many friendships that I’ve made over the years because of motorcycles. The connections have been so diverse and some of them I’m happy to say have been deep, life changing relationships.
Tonight I had the chance to chat with a cherished friend I met over 15 years ago.
While riding my bike around one spring night, I saw a set of round headlights coming at me in the other direction while I sat at a traffic light. The rider on his CBR900RR went by, then made a quick u-turn and pulled up next to me at the light to say ‘hi.’ We made momentary small talk and went on our separate ways.
Weeks later, while I was walking through a street fair a blonde guy I didn’t know on rollerblades stopped me and introduced himself. He was the guy who pulled the u-turn to talk to me. I haven’t the slightest idea how he recognized me without my helmet on. (Isn’t that funny when you think about it?)
Little did I know that in that moment a friendship that would flow through nearly 2 decades would have been born.
What is it about motorcycles that make it so easy to meet new people?
Have you had any experience with meeting up with other riders that you ‘got to know’ either through their comments on your blog or from reading theirs? I’ll extend that out to people that you chit-chat with on Twitter, forums, G+, Instagram and Facebook while I’m at it.
Do you think that reading peoples posts and looking at their photos gives you a fair impression of what they’re like before you meet them in person?
As it turns out, I actually met my husband Kenny 287 years ago on a group ride that was organized on a forum that we both frequented. Life is mysterious. Nerds on motorcycles found love through 1s and 0s.
I rub digital elbows with so many people who seem cool or interesting that I’d like to meet in person. But then I convince myself that they’d hate me if they met me in person. Kenny says I have mental problems. Which then furthers me down the introvert path. Nobody likes a crazy broad. Am I right?
Have you had good luck meeting online moto-friends in person?
No doubt you’ve seen him make an appearance in photos that I’ve posted over the years. He’s always around. On our road trips, the Crotona Midnight Run, the Santa rides, riding for pie on summer nights, Bill has been a fixture in our lives for the past decade. He is one of my most cherished friends.
With a riding resume that dates back longer than I’ve been alive (left jab), Bill has been riding motorcycles for more than 40 years. Through rain, sun and cold, from coast to coast – the air that foils over a set of handlebars is woven into the very cells of his body. He is a wanderer.
In October of 2012 while on a road trip to West Virginia, Bill suffered a (non-moto) medical emergency that ultimately resulted in the above the knee amputation of his left leg.
His army of friends were in complete disbelief as the news began to trickle in from afar. We were in shock that this could have happened to our friend.
The very first time that Kenny and I went to visit him in the hospital, before I could go upstairs I had to collect myself. The tears were at the ready. In my own selfish fear, I wondered – how does a person go on?
I very quickly found out.
While I can only imagine the private devastation that a person goes through with the loss of a limb, I have seen Bill face his recovery with grace and determination. Watching him relearn to walk with his fascinating C-Leg prosthesis has been nothing short of inspiring. There are so many lessons to be learned from a person who doesn’t curl up into a ball and die when life broadsides them. The sheer force of their will to get on with gettin’ on is amazing.
Beyond the day to day aspects of learning a new way to move around in the world, throughout the past 12 months one loose thread has been dangling, waiting to be pulled. Would he be able to ride again? When simply putting your pants on takes 5 times longer than it used to, some people would be inclined to fold and say of course not. But not Bill.
Almost 1 year to the day of losing his leg he came home with this:
A Can-Am Spyder. I don’t know who was more excited – him or me?! I’m lying. It was me. I am over the moon!
Learning to walk again was a necessity. Getting back on the road? Well, it was also a necessity…. just of a different kind. Riding is an investment in a persons well-being and their quality of life. For some, like Bill, riding moves them beyond simply existing to living fully.
I am thrilled to have my friend back on the road and in the wind.
My travels during the Void Rally 8 brought me to Chester, Pennsylvania. The bonus location was a tribute to Bill Haley and the Comets who recorded at a local radio station. Though the building and its musical history have been torn down and lost to time, there are 2 black rubber musical notes embedded into the sidewalk.
…All that remains now are the anonymous inlays in the sidewalk on Crosby Street, cracked with age. Take a picture of a note inlayed in the sidewalk.
When I pulled up to 5th & Crosby I wasn’t sure off of the top of my head what I was looking for. I pulled into a parking lot and opened my topbox to read my rally book. As I stood looking at the pages of my book, I caught a glimpse of a grandfatherly man walking with a little girl of about 4 or 5. I could feel their gaze fixed on me from about 50 yards.
After reading the rally book entry for the bonus, I closed up my topbox and set off walking across the street looking for the music notes.
By the time I photographed the notes and walked back to my motorcycle, the man and the little girl were standing right in front of my motorcycle on the other side of the fence. I smiled and gave a nod as I walked back to my bike, getting myself ready to shove off again.
As I stood there momentarily, the man walked towards me and said something. I still had my helmet on with my earplugs in so I let him know and asked him to speak up.
“How you doin’ t’day?”
“Doing great! You?”
“My little friend over here wanted to come get a look at you. I told her that you were a girl but she wasn’t so sure.”
I looked toward the little girl who had her face cradled between the bars of the fence . She was holding on with both hands and swinging one leg. She stared at me curiously.
I waved to her and laughed. “Oh, I’m definitely a girl, alright.”
“Oh, I know. I told her. But she had to see for herself.”
And with that, he put his hand on my shoulder as if to say take care and walked back to the little girl smiling.
He once again took her hand and they walked back the way that they came. The little girl kept stealing glances at me . As I exited the lot, I honked and waved to her once more.
It has been over a week now since I saw that little girl and I haven’t forgotten about the inquisitive twinkle in her eye. I hope that she doesn’t forget the lady on the motorcycle or at least the idea that if they want to… girls can ride motorcycles, too.