I thought I would write about it when I first got home, but here it is almost 7 months after the fact. Last October I rode solo to Panama City from Carrollton. When I went to bed that night I had a suitcase and my bike bags sitting on the love seat in my bedroom. At that time I had not committed to riding. Even though I had put a new back wheel on and changed the oil, I still was not sure.
When I woke up the next morning I just decided to do it. It took me about an hour to get everything packed and tied down. My family knew I was going to Thunder Beach, but they thought I was going in my car. I decided it was best to let them continue thinking that thought until I arrived safely.
My biggest concern starting out was the fear of biting off more than I could chew. I figured if I got too tired I could just stop and spend the night on the road. Maybe it was the adrenaline pumping, but I really did not get tired until about the last hour. It was dark and cold by this time. I stopped somewhere for a cup of coffee, hooked up with a married couple and rode with them until they turned off short of my destination farther down the beach.
My friend from Carrollton had called the hotel desk to make sure I made it there. We talked a bit after I checked in. My room overlooked the ocean on the 17th floor. I opened the doors, took a shower and collapsed in bed. But I couldn't fall asleep. I was so excited and just plain tickled with myself that I got up and sat outside.
The ride down had been everything I had always thought it would be. The countryside was breathtaking. Lush and still green, hay in the fields, no traffic. Not even any bikers. I guess they were already there by Friday. Finally, I did wind down and went to bed. Slept like a baby. I awoke to the sound of bikes below. Time to get moving...
I'm not a party girl or a person who will drink and drive any motorized vehicle so hanging out at a bar was not for me. I did check out a few, but mostly I kept to myself. My favorite thing was riding down south of Panama City. Another thing checked off my bucket list. The ocean was so beautiful, so calming. I am always drawn to its beauty.
Nothing exciting about being there other than the scenery. This was truly a case where the journey was more fun than the destination. After a couple of days and two t-shirts later, I headed home. The last hour was pretty brutal in the cold darkness. Never, ever, has my bed felt so warm and and comfy. I just wished for someone to snuggle up with and revel in my triumph. And I did feel very triumphant!
People say it all the time; I don't want someone with a lot of baggage. I have often wondered how someone gets to be 61 and has no baggage. I have also wondered what is the difference between baggage and luggage. I think the reality is no one is free of baggage. Some carry around more than others, but we all have it. How do you think we got those character lines, or the interesting, sometimes painful, often delightful memories that play across the ceiling at night? Who would we be without each and every moment that has brought us to this point? I would not check one piece of my baggage if it made me less than who I am now. I have learned from those adventures, cried over the losses, and treasured all. But baggage can weigh us down if we let it. Part of the wisdom of life comes in knowing when to zip up the bag and put it in the closet. Not gone, not lost, just done with it.
Luggage, to me, implies open, ready to travel, what do I need for this journey? Should I pack my jeans and cowboy hat or my work clothes? Should I take a picnic lunch or eat along the way? Do I need a map or should I just follow the road? My luggage is always open and I can pack in about 20 minutes. My baggage is lovingly tucked away in the back of my closet. I'm not afraid to unzip the bags and look inside if I need to. I think it is pretty foolish to pretend it isn't there, even if it is in the back of the closet, but it is my luggage I focus on now.
Last week I took my first solo trip to 29 Dreams in Alabama. It was only about 250 miles round trip, but it was a big deal for me. I can hear all you iron butts laughing out loud, but I don't care. I've only been riding for about 2 years now and most of it around my home town. On the eve of my departure the weather forcast was not very promising. Getting a little anxious about going off by myself and in the rain, I called my friend Kiote65. He was very supportive and offered me the encouragement I needed.
"Just think of it as a long trip to the store," he said. Made good sense to me so I went to sleep dreaming of my next adventure.
It was drizzling when I left out in my brand new rain gear. After the first mile or two I settled into the road. Even in the drizzle it was wonderful. Took the back, country roads and stopped only once for gas. The scarriest part was driving down to my cabin on gravel. My only other experience on gravel resulted in a drop. Not so this time! I was pretty proud of myself when I put down the kickstand and looked around. Just as I got unpacked and settled in for a nap the rain hit, along with a tornado siren. I didn't care. I was just so happy to be there.
Only one other biker showed up on Wednesday, but by Thursday evening three others arrived. The four guys decided to build a campfire and they invited me to join them. I took my two little bottles of wine, 3 pieces of firewood and "sat on the porch with the big dogs". We swapped stories (mostly I just listened) and enjoyed the fire and the companionship. Around 10 I excused myself to turn in. I told them I knew 4 men sipping beer for two hours probably needed to disappear behind a tree. As I was walking away, I heard one of them say, "I like her style."
It tickled me all the way down to my toes. I felt like a real biker.
Thanks Kiote, for giving me the courage to take that "long trip to the store". I don't think I would have gone without your kind words or your belief in me.
I got one of those "prestige" tags for my ride. I figured what I wanted would already be taken (it usually is). Much to my surprise, it was not. Along with what you want, you have to put what it means. ILMAO2 "I love my outdoor activities too!" Yeah, Right! Can you hear me laughing?
Having been single for almost 10 years, I have begun to consider the possibility I may never find that special someone to ride off into the sunset with. I am open to and even look for the illusive friend and or partner. What happens as we get older? Do we get so set in our ways we cannot include anyone else into our lives. Does the Internet become just a candy bowl of endless possibilities so why stay in one spot long enough to find out what someone is really about? Oops, there's a flaw. Move on. We all have baggage, scars and road rash. Especially seniors.
I teach a class where people are asked to list the top four values in their life. The top two are almost always "family" and "loving and being loved'. Even big, strong, strapping men list loving and being loved. If we all want it so much, why are so few willing to stay around long enough to find it? If you need a valentine, I'm right here.
An untouched, unloved infant will die. I wonder if the same is true for us seniors?
It begins in my gut and seeps out through my pores like a port wine stain on a Sunday white cloth. It gnaws at my heels, wolves on a bone. It will not leave me alone. I carry it around, my orphaned child of 35 years. It is the hunger that haunts my dreams, awakens my fitful sleep. It is the ache so familiar it has become part of me. It grows more insistent with each passing year.
Almost unconsciously, I have been moving toward answering the unrelenting pull at my heart. The orphan child of my dream whispers louder now.
"Time is running out."
My mind keeps telling me, "I need more money, more experience, less fear-I could die out there!"
"You're just making excuses. Listen, go before it's too late. So what if you die out there? It would be better than just pretending you're a real biker. It would be better than not living your dream," the voice replies.
When I step back and look at the last two yars, I can see I have slowly been responding to the call. It began when I took the Rider's Safety Course, never having been on a motorcycle in my life, buying a 250, then moving up to my 650 Silverado, finding a T-bag on a half-price sale, and buying a luggage rack. All have been subtle answers to that unrelenting yearning.
Thirty-five years ago I wanted to take a road trip with a girl fiend to California. Children and responsibilities got in the way. Now the children are grown and husbands are gone. Money is always tight and resposibilites still tie me down. The only difference now is the very keen awarenss that if I don't get out of my comfort zone and do it soon, I will never do it. And I will regret not going for the rest of my life.
I feel a growing sense of excitement and certainly fear as I realize I am planning that cross country road trip. Even said it out loud to my daughter last night.
I always thought it would be in a car with a girlfriend. The definitive Thelma and Louise trip, yet to be taken. Now, I know it will be on my bike and probably on my own.
Maybe I'll meet up and ride with you for a ways. Maybe I'll swing by and get harleychick to ride a while with me. Maybe I'll ride up to Nevada and tour the roads with kiote6, then drop down to check out topdawg and Kathy. Who knows, maybe I'll even stop in and show young magic my version of an older woman. Dragon, I may have to visit you, too.
If you do see me on the road (rubber side down!) pull up and ride with me. Just know though, I almost always ride the lead. I don't much like watching somebody else's backside (unless it is particularly good looking). I want to be up front where I won't miss a single thing!
Help me out guys. If a man goes into his proverbial cave, for no apparent reason, should he be left alone? If something, other than the woman, is causing the problem should the woman just leave him alone? Biker men are no less confusing than ordinary men. You would think by now I would have this figured out.
As New Year resolutions go I always try to make one or two. The usual "I need to lose weight" is forever on my list. This year is no exception, however I was having trouble finding the motivation. Living in Georgia, we have been blessed with a very mild winter. Only one day in January required chaps for warmth. Upon pulling and tugging at my rather snug chaps, I found my motivation. No way am I going to buy new ones or get to big for the ones I have! Getting a guy just hasn't been the incentive I needed, but getting my chaps on and feeling right in them has. Whatever it takes, I guess! Five pounds and counting.
To all of you who took the time to respond to my blogs, I want to say thanks! Since I am not a paying member, this is the only way I can respond. I enjoyed your positive comments and encouragement. If ever we meet on the rode, wave to me and I'll gladly tag along for awhile! I think it would be wonderfull to ride with any one of you!
I do most of my riding alone. When I want to go I just go. Sometimes when I see other riders I would like to ride along with them. Is there a sign or a signal that would let them know? Most of the time they just go around me. I'm usually running 60-65 mph. Not trying to see how fast I can run, just enjoying the ride and the view. Sometimes (not often though) it gets a little lonely.
All my life I've been drawn to a bike. Finally at 58 I took the Rider's Edge class. Didn't pass it! Dropped the bike on my foot and nearly broke a toe. Came away thinking this maybe wasn't for me, but I couldn't stop thinking about it. Finally bought a baby 250. Scared to death for the first 500 miles. Moved up to a 650 Silverado this May. 2000 miles and counting! Riding has given me the freedom to be the woman I've always longed to be! I'll be 60 in a couple of weeks. It's never too late to answer the call of the wind, the road, and the ride!