So a few days ago I see a fellow biker’s helmet resting on his seat as I park next to him. I climbed off mine and glanced over again at his helmet only to see the sticker on the side that read “Ride it like you stole it!” Now, I don’t know if this individual was just making a proclamation about the enthusiastic way he rides, or if he was advertising how he acquired his motorcycle. Either way it made me think about the way we promote ourselves and the sport we love so dearly.
Now I can be as rambunctious as the next person, and I have been known to ride hard and fast, but the reality is when I make a major two-wheeled purchase, to a certain extent I need to take care of it. My motorcycles come with a title and sometimes a payment. I keep the proper insurance and registration within easy reach in case I need it. So when it comes to the “stole it” part, I just don’t fit in. Also with the high cost of getting bikes fixed due to the lack of maturity or some other reckless act, breaking it is not an option. And just my luck, if I “ride it like I stole it”, it would end with me “getting a ticket”.
As I ride off I had to ask myself…what if you “rode it like you financed it”?
I’m sure, much like a sea shell from the water’s edge, while held to your ear, you can hear the ocean. Likewise, if you picked up my helmet and held it to your ear you would hear the sound of me screaming like a little girl. Why, you ask? When riding along, we bikers encounter things that might evoke a scream or reflexive body jerk to avoid what may or may not be there. A bird flying up from the road as it hears you coming can cause you to duck even though it wasn’t going to hit you anyway. A dog or other predatory animal running out on the road can also cause an uncontrollable sound to come from my mouth-as I react in an un-cool manner. Even the bug that is coming straight at my head, only to miss me after dodging it with cat-like reflexes can cause a reaction that can be embarrassing to me and others if I know there might be a witness. And those witnesses are usually the ones riding behind you. A bug? It can’t hurt you, right? Of course not…
The ride to work this morning is why I bring this up. It was a beautiful fall ride in, although a cool and windy one. The trees are changing their colors and I know that I’m in the midst of a change in seasons. Stunning. When out of nowhere, a bird, bat or flying squirrel, comes from above, flying directly at me with very high velocity! I was traveling slightly above the posted speed limit due to two cups of coffee, and I realized an impact was going to happen. Everything went to slow motion as I weighed all my options in a nano-second. Swerve or duck? Accelerate or hit the brakes? Take the full hit? So many options in such a short time. Decisions, decisions.
So here is what went really went down. I’m riding along, and out of the corner of my eye I see a flying animal of some sort coming at me with a death wish. Start slow motion cameras and scary music. In a split second, I duck, scream in my helmet, close my eyes while bracing for the impact, and realize that a leaf doesn’t hurt as bad as you think…
A couple of years ago I rode to Anamosa Iowa for J&P Cycles open house. The end of June was perfect and the weather was good with a slight chance of showers for part of the trip. But no worries, with warm weather a little shower wouldn’t matter. I left after work on my Heritage and planned on making Des Moines Iowa to spend the night. I don’t normally take the interstate but I needed to make a little time so look out big trucks and speeding cars!
A nice night in Des Moines and back on the road to Anamosa. You know at the time I had not ridden through Iowa on a motorcycle, so I was looking forward to it. It was also going to be my first trip to J&P’s and I couldn’t wait. The National Motorcycle Museum was also on my list, so quite frankly I couldn’t get there fast enough.
Now let’s be serious. We’ve all been to things like this, but as I pulled into the parking lot of motorcycles, I was amazed at the turn-out. The people working the event were directing people and it seemed like a well organized group. Very impressed! But wait this was just the beginning. In a box not far from me was a four inch square piece of plywood to put under my kickstand. what a great touch. That says to me that these people understand me and what is important to bikers in general. It’s weird to talk about a piece of wood like this but in that four inch square it might have well said “welcome my friend, we don’t want your bike to fall over”. Nice touch and I haven’t even walked through the split-rail gate to get to the open house.
The day was spent walking and talking to a lot of vendors and folks milling around. It was a beautiful day for watching a stunt show and some synchronized riding. All in all a great time. Fun and professional at the same time. Afterwords, a trip to the National Motorcycle Museum was just amazing. The history within those walls is a lifetime of labor and love for all that maintain it and enjoy it.
The trip was great. The food was good and the host John and Jill Parham, their son Zach and crew were awesome. Thanks for all you guys do and the passion you have for our sport, it’s history and future. You are good people.
If you ever get a chance, go. I mean it. GO! And tell the folks at J&P Cycle’s thanks. See you again this summer!