back in the saddle

For the first time in awhile the stupid smile plastered on my face isn’t fake.
~unknown

Both horses and Harleys have saddles, and I found myself straddling the latter this past Saturday. The scheduled lesson was arranged the day before, so I didn’t have much time to dwell on it. I arrived early at the bus yard and waited for the group class to finish. After the last student left, I somberly walked across the lot to meet the instructor. I carried my brand new helmet, gloves, jacket, and a stupid smile. I wanted to project an air of confidence, and, also, psych myself up. My goal for this two hour session was to get comfortable with the throttle and the clutch along with balance and my composure. Maintaining the power of positive thinking is a must. The instructor said riding a motorcycle is psychological. It’s fascinating what the mind can control, as I discovered. It killed the engine three times and managed to lay the bike down. Oh, what a tease my mind is. I began to drive positively, when I realized this little machine could get me to Nordstrom’s Rack. I was on my way to a shopping spree! Even if there wouldn’t have been any place to stash my trove, it’s the thought that counts. I’m pleased that I accomplished my goal for the day.

in transition

Retirement must be wonderful. I mean, you can suck in your stomach for only so long.
~ Burt Reynolds

My husband has been in retirement for two weeks. We have the typical retiree chats about now we can do the things we have always wanted to do together. In the meantime, while we’re deciding what these things are, we have become “regulars” at the Waffle House. Neither of us had patronized the joint until we stopped on a whim before running errands on a Tuesday morning. The errands were postponed, because we had eaten too much and had to go home for a nap. Now our brunch fare has been whittled down to ten bucks for the two of us, which gives us plenty of energy. We are flattered the waitress recognizes us when we walk through the door. She no longer needs to give us a menu. We have had opportunity to explore other eating establishments in surrounding towns. After a fact finding mission at the county courthouse, my husband suggested lunch at a cozy cafe across the street. As we situated ourselves in a booth with benches too low, we glanced at the order window displaying the sign, DON’T SHOOT THE COOK. We are looking forward to some fine dining. My husband found some marvelous deals online and printed some coupons. One restaurant sounds quite fancy, and I’ll even wear a skirt. After we completed our barn chores this morning, my husband glanced at the clock and commented, Is it only 8 am? …………. I feel a double cheeseburger coming on.

the longest 22 miles, ever

Four wheels move the body. Two wheels move the soul.
unknown

Our first bike was purchased, a Harley-Davidson Super Low 883. Amid all the paperwork and a call to the insurance agent, the written check secured the deal. Now, all we had to do was get it home. No one wants to put a brand new bike on the back of a trailer, so the honorable thing was to drive it. My husband says this bike was bought for my Mother’s Day gift, besides he can gain experience before upgrading. The only problem with this gift is that I’m not licensed nor road ready if I were. So, we adopted a driving strategy back to our homestead. All good pilots need a flight plan. I would follow behind in the Ford F-150, so I could keep an eye on him and prevent other vehicles from getting too close to this novice rider, the man I love. The back way, the longer route, 22 miles versus the usual 14, would be the best bet. Little did we realize that that time in the afternoon the roads would be populated with soccer moms in their mini-vans. We also were not aware of the winds gusting up to 30+ mph. However, we were confident our checklist was in order and set off for home.

There we were on our carefully crafted sojourn, and it didn’t take long for my heart to start thumping. Although my husband had his leather gloves, riding boots, and newly acquired helmet, he had forgotten his snug fitting leather jacket. His loose fitting shirt with collar was ballooning out and flapping like a loosely tied jib on a sailboat atop whitecap waves. Little did I realize that when he went to pull the helmet’s face guard down to protect his eyes, the new item’s sticker with large letters, Harley-Davidson, obstructed his view. He was forced to push it back up. And, furthermore, I didn’t realize that the strong winds gave him the sensation his eyeglasses were about to fly off. I only could see that the elements were presenting a challenge to him to keep the bike steady in his lane. Finally, finally, we reached the country road that leads to our house. I was wondering if he would remember the speed bump that separates two counties. Apparently he didn’t, because his butt bounced out of the seat. We reached our driveway, a 90 degree turn onto gravel. I was buffering him from the other cars, which, by the way, materialized in a short span of time. Who were these people?! My husband turned too quickly from the pavement to the gravel and soon discovered that wasn’t the wisest maneuver. The bike spun out of control, but, fortunately, it spun onto the grassy ground and laid down… on my heart. I was given the thumbs up to assure me he was okay, and he was. Both of us have reached a higher level of respect for these machines. It will be some time before I allow him to ride solo without me following behind. (I might discover I need to be ahead as the pace car.)

temporary drop out

Never ride faster than your guardian angel can fly. ~Author Unknown

I truly believe my guardian angel came in the form of a young twenty-something Harley school class attendee, a delightful young man from Nebraska.

After spending the first 1.75 hours starting and re-starting my engine, veering off course, falling over with the bike two times, once to the left and once to the right, the instructor said, give it more juice. Okay, then, more juice it is! I proceeded at a good clip with engine roaring across the school bus yard, and came to a stop with a slight skid, but nevertheless, it was a stop. I regarded this as a successful execution in the exercise, gave a thumbs up, but immediately dropped it, when I sensed fear in my guardian angel’s face. Upon completion of this particular oppitunti, (Finnish kicks in when I get stressed) we had a two minute break, in which the fellow classmate informed me that he was concerned with my riding the throttle. Riding the throttle?! He continued to explain that I could pop the clutch and speed in an uncontrollable fashion. He could always “hear” where I was. For crying out loud, if this kid could hear me, I would like to know why the instructor, Charlie, couldn’t. Between you and me, I think Charlie had sour grapes for having to work as the sole trainer this weekend. I am going to blame it all on Charlie. I walked out of the class (I wasn’t kicked out) with grace and dignity. I will schedule a private lesson or two and return to the group endeavor for my certification, because I want the insurance discount.