We must go back a little in time. As a kid, I had my turns riding on the back of a bike (and on the tank when I was quite young), but as I grew into my teenage years I was left scared of bikes. It didn’t matter the brand or size – I didn’t have any desire to get on a bike of any sort for the rest of my days. My older brother was in an accident and that left me uneasy and unwilling to imagine I would enjoy being on a bike.
So, when did it all change? Well, almost three years ago, I met someone. We met at the bar and I was adamant that there would be no relationship as we got to know each other. I was certain I wasn’t interested in any relationship with anyone, and this guy was a biker who lived his life around riding. And, if he wasn’t riding, he was counting down the moments until he was.
As I got to know more about him, I realized he had been on two wheels since he was old enough to start. I also discovered, he was extremely talented with his ability to custom-build bikes, and airbrush or pinstripe anything. So, it wasn’t long after that he started mentioning me riding on the back of his Chopper. Now, this wasn’t likely what you are picturing. This a streeeetched-out Chopper. There is no comfort, only chrome and metallic flecks.
After ignoring and declining his requests to ride with him, I finally gave in. And, while I would love to build myself up as this tough, biker, who always owns every situation she is in – that would be a tremendous overstatement – especially when I talk about my first ride on the Chopper.
It was a cool, fall evening and he pulled up with all the appropriate gear to shield bugs from his eyes, cold legs, and freezing fingers. Me? Well, I had on a pair of tennis shoes, a zip-up hoodie, jeans, and my hair in a ponytail. After he chuckled, he loaned me a pair of glasses and sent me inside for more layers and a pair of gloves.
He recognized I was nervous and self-admittedly ignorant when it comes to riding. So, he showed me the pegs to put my feet on, what not to touch, and where I was sitting. I looked at the pillion pad that barely covered two-thirds of the square-footage my rear-end required. But, I had promised myself to say “yes” to new things, so I hopped on and we headed out, slowly. As we pulled out of my driveway, I felt like my seat slid, but I quickly dismissed it and chalked it up to paranoia.
I was tense from my neck to my toes – partially because in order to stay on the back of the Chopper, you must hold on tight; partially because I was so nervous about the million “what ifs” running through my head. After about 12 miles, we stopped at a gas station, where I gladly stood up and stretched my legs. I felt as if I held a squat for 15 minutes.
We made small-talk and he reached down, unbeknownst to me, to lift off “my” seat and re-adhere it back to the fender. I left my lady-like manners at home and asked, “Your spit and those suction cups are all that are keeping my ass on that bike?!” Once he finished laughing, I realized that in fact it is only a little lubricant and several suction cups that were between my rear and his fender. That did not help me loosen up on the return ride home.
So, for anyone who has never rode or doesn’t think they can – if my awkward and unknowing self can do it, anyone can. And, that was the start of it all.
After the first ride, I was left thinking of the few moments where I loosened up enough to look around at the stars, smell the wildflowers, and feel the wind free my soul. It felt very cliché, but it truly was an experience that matched up to what I heard other bikers talk about.
So, once one of the first tolerable weather days came in March, I was on the back of that Chopper. And, by then I had headbands (ladies, your hair will become so knotted, that a headband and a bun are a must), riding glasses, and boots. However, I realized how much work it is to ride on the back of such a beast: you use muscles you didn’t know existed, frequent breaks are mandatory, and you’ll appreciate a stiff drink all the more when you stop!
For almost a year, that was our ride. I didn’t know any better, and he just loved to ride. So, without bags, there were warm days that turned in to bitter-cold evenings and you have to get home without a jacket. There were short rides that turned long, and by the time you were sore and ready, you realized you still had a couple hours to get back to your bed. And, there were a lot of smooth rides and stiff drinks.
However, we put on a lot of miles and wanted to see a lot more without having to work so hard to get far enough on a weekend trip. So, I got a 2010 Fat Boy with a backrest and bags! And, shortly after sitting on the back, I knew I was ready to learn to ride on my own – which is in the works as I share this with you.
In the thousands and thousands of miles I rode, I shared so many stories with friends, family, and complete strangers. Some of the shared adventures were unplanned and a result of two people reading a map differently, some were intentional, and some are downright unbelievable! With each adventure, there was a common theme: finding the best roads to take, the best places to stay, the best food to eat, and the best drinks to enjoy. Some of these recommendations were learned by doing it the wrong way, and I can be sure to make sure you don’t have those same experiences by sharing.
Between the stories and the pictures shared, I had so many of you complimenting my photos, appreciating my style of writing, and encouraging me for MORE – so, it just made sense that I put pen to paper to get my adventures out to more people – whether they ride, want to ride, want to get back to riding, or just like following along! So, stay tuned for many adventures ahead!
May your ride be smooth and your drinks stiff! Cheers!