I thought of the wild thrill of riding … I thought of the intoxication of risking my neck, of pitting such skills as I had against fate and disaster, of completing the … journey without disgrace.
paraphrased from 10lb Penalty by Dick Francis
The sun is shining. The road calls me. Today is not a day for professional garb, carefully arranged hair, make-up, perfume, and matching accessories. Today I a not the professional woman who leads people in a work place, who gives presentations and trains and who knows how to solve others problems.
Today I pull on a pair of jeans and a black t-shirt with a grinning skull. I put on socks and leather boots. I extract my helmet, riding gloves and bag from my closet. I slip my motorcycle registration, some money, a chapstick and some gum into my bag. I’m ready.
I smile at him, my exhilaration showing. He laughs. We pick up our keys from the table, go out the door.
In a matter of minutes we have extracted our bikes and taken them outside. We are astride our thrumming engines, we pull on our gloves and helmets and we are ready to ride.
Where will we go? We consult briefly, then we click our transmissions into first gear and ease our way into the traffic. We weave our way through the cars, lean into the curve of the on-ramp for Fahaheel Road. Soon we are rushing south in the fast lane, he’s in the lead on his dark blue Suzuki Hyabusa and me following slightly behind and to his right on my electric blue Honda Fury.
By the time we hit Ahmedi, we’ve left the worst of the traffic behind, only desert camp seekers in their SUVs accompany us through the cool winter night in Kuwait. We accelerate, I’m travelling at 150 km/hr and he effortlessly passes me then slows for me to catch up. I am smiling, I can’t help it, I feel every heart beat and every pulse of blood in my body. I am so alive. The wind challenges me and I catch it and fly.
People have asked me why I like to ride. Here in Kuwait it’s so unusual for a woman to be on a bike. Why do I like it so much? Isn’t it a man’s sport?
They have no idea what it’s like. I try to explain that riding is like being astride a launched rocket. I attempt to have them enter into how speed on a powerful motorcycle seduces and fulfills. I vainly describe how I ride because I must. It becomes essential to me like a piece of chocolate you need for a pick-me-up or a cup of coffee rousing you from early morning torpor.
My essential self needs that rush, that feeling of invincibility all the while being incredibly aware of my vulnerability. When I don’t ride, I feel that I am only half awake. During the hot summer season in Kuwait when temperatures hit 50º C +, I don’t ride and I miss it like an aching sense of loss or homesickness.
This past winter, I had a motorcycle accident. I went down while travelling at 90 km/hr on a bad road at night. I didn’t notice a hole out of momentary distraction, hit the hole and went flying. I broke my right humerus at the shoulder and my left elbow. I had to have a titanium plate and seven pins inserted in the shoulder to stabilize the bone and wore a cast on my left arm for four weeks. But all I could think of is, “how soon can I ride again”? Summer has closed in now, with its scorching 55º C days and 47º C nights. I don’t ride and I miss it dreadfully. My shoulder is on the mend and I hope, if I can get to Canada before the summer ends, that I can take my Harley Sportster out of storage and get her back on the road.
I’ve been reading Dick Francis lately. Many of his books are about steeplechase jockeys. He aptly describes the sensation of courting disaster on the back of a jumper and I feel a kinship to the emotions he describes. That’s why I included that quote.
To ride a metal and rubber roaring beast throbbing beneath me is to be truly alive. Many people ride for the sense of community with other riders. I don’t need them. I just need the road, the wind, the rushing scenery and the roar of my motorcycle to know that I’ll live forever and not worry that I might not because right now, at this moment, I am subliming happy.