In 2006, I found myself lost… searching for who I was… what was left of me. I sought out solitude wherever and whenever possible. I was confined within myself and afraid of the world. Every quick movement startled me, noises in the night terrified me, and trust was no longer a word I believed in. In time, it became clear that I was unraveling in every sense of the word. Through a friend, I rediscovered the feeling of “free” on the back of a motorcycle. While I had always loved them, I had never been more than a passenger. The long-running joke between myself and others when I was a teenager was that I was a “professional passenger”. Having not been on a motorcycle in so many years, the first time I swung my leg over the back of a friend’s bike was exhilarating to say the least!! One ride and I was hooked… I needed more… craved it. At home, I thought about it endlessly and finally told my husband I wanted to learn to ride. He looked at me incredulously, thinking there was no way I could be serious about such a thing. I was not a risk-taker. I was not an adrenaline junkie. But, I was persistent; telling him I was going to do it with or without him. He was getting ready to deploy and commented that he knew I’d go out and get a bike whether he was here or not. And he was right! So, he finally conceded and we drove to a nearby dealership to check out motorcycles. I was smart about it and researched what I was looking for. Sitting on different bikes, I waited until my gut told me, “THIS IS IT!” That moment happened when I sat on a 2006 Suzuki Katana. Now, some of you may think it was not the brightest idea to buy brand new when I didn’t even know how to ride. Thankfully, my husband thought different and was far more comfortable with the idea of me being on something from the first mile… knowing it had never been dropped… and being specifically tailored to me. That day, we drove home with my first bike.
It wasn’t long before I was sitting on my Black Beauty in the garage… dreaming of the day I could take her on the streets. But, first… I had to learn HOW to make her move. So, I called upon my friend again… he agreed to teach me with the condition that I learn his way… By. The. Book. There would be no bad habits for this girl!! I was an intrigued student and listened carefully to everything he explained. The first time I rode my bike was terrifying!! I thought for sure I would fall!! While my friend jogged along beside me, I rode through a church parking lot in a straight line. Turning? What’s that? When it did come time for me to turn… let’s just say I quickly learned just how heavy my bike was (580 lbs wet)!! I didn’t quit though… I rode every day until I was comfortable enough to take the Basic Riders Course. That two day class was nerve-wracking and I figured there was no way in hell I was possibly going to pass!! When it came time for the final test, I was a mess… freaking out about every move I made as I followed the instructor’s calls. At the end of the day, I was called up to be given my score. By this time, I had already witnessed 3 experienced riders receive their failing results. There was NO way I had passed. The instructor asked me how I thought I did… I cringed and said, “hopefully, I passed?” He laughed and said, “You got the highest score in the class! I don’t know who taught you, but he ought to be an instructor here!”
OMG I PASSED!! I was officially ready to ride over to the DMV to get my motorcycle endorsement added to my license.
Over time, I became more and more comfortable on my bike. I met another girl who was new to riding as well and we instantly bonded. She would become a lifelong friend to me and someone who “got me” without me saying a word. Riding became my escape… the place I was free to be myself with no one around to judge me. I could cry without being seen… I could scream without being heard… and no one could hurt me.
There is a saying, “There are those who have crashed; and those who will.” I eventually experienced my first fall… though it wasn’t anything to write home about. It taught me what my limitations were and what I still needed to work on.
Fast forward to June 2008, I had become a fairly advanced rider by that point and was ready to move up to a more performance oriented (and much lighter) motorcycle.
The moment I decided to upgrade, I knew EXACTLY what I wanted. Calling upon a friend who worked at a dealership, I gave him my criteria. I would not settle for anything less. After making some calls, he found my bike. A 2008 all black (rare that year) Suzuki GSX-R600. She was still in a crate which he quickly laid claim to; having her shipped down to his shop where he put his best techs on it… building my bike from the ground up. He did the official test ride before having her delivered straight to my door. I fell in love the moment I saw her. She was beautiful…
Roxy became my solitude to the fullest. I took so much pride in her… finding the perfect accents, swapping out the brake lines for steel braided, adding purple fittings along with a custom purple tank pad. Eventually, she got a beautiful set of purple rim stripes and was the ultimate definition of sexy.
Being out on the open rode and opening up the throttle is a feeling I cannot put into words. Feeling the freedom and solitude… and having control over both… it’s something I can’t compare to anything else I’ve experienced in life. Knowing that those moments were MINE and MINE alone… no one could take them from me. No one could take away my control. If I’m being honest, I’ll say that it did cause a rift in my marriage. My husband felt that I had grown in confidence and independence. I disagree. I just found the confidence and independence I had lost. In many ways, I think this drove my passion and desire even further. I relished in the feeling of power I had when I leaned into every twist and turn heading to the freeway… and then rolling on the throttle to open her up. There’s just something about it that fed my soul.
Then my marriage ended… two of my dearest friends passed away along with my cat, my cousin, and co-worker… I lost my job… I had nothing. I slowly made my way to rock-bottom. My soul was empty and the day was quickly approaching when I knew I would have to give up Roxy for the simple reason that I could not afford her on my own. On one of my last rides, I made a stupid decision that should have killed me. While I survived it, my confidence did not. It was the dumbest thing I’ve ever done in my life… and the fear I inadvertently placed in the friend riding behind me is unforgivable. While I would prefer not to play out the scene, let’s just say, I discovered what it means to have your life literally flash before your eyes.
I can only recall riding maybe once or twice following that incident. Suddenly, the roads I knew like the back of my hand… the twists and turns… made me panic. I began to hesitate. Now, any good rider will tell you… if you hesitate, you do NOT belong on two wheels. So, that was it… the decision was made for me. Roxy would no longer be in my life. The day my then ex-husband came to pick her up left me feeling lost once again. I was lost.
Maybe I’ll ride again one day… maybe I won’t… either way, for those few years, I found my solitude. I sure do miss it though…