Thursday, 19 August 2010

Motorcyle Diaries...

"Like a true nature's child, we were born, born to be wild..." ~ Steppenwolf

I'll tell ya a little secret...I sometimes sing 'Born to be Wild' by Steppenwolf when I'm riding my motorbike Dorky, true, but oh does it put a smile on my face!

I'm not sure exactly when the love of motorcycles got into my bloodstream. It's possible it was when I was 2 years old. That was the first time I was ever on a bike - albeit it was a wee motorbike, likely a 250.

My folks and I lived in Japan for some of my younger years and that was our transportation. Both Mom and Dad had a bike, and there was a kid seat somehow attached to it for yours truly. As they didn't have motorcycle helmuts small enough in that day, I got to wear my cousin Brian's old hockey helmut. I believe there was a Canadian flag sticker on the front of the helmut too. I'm going to have to scrounge up the photos - I do remember I was always smiling.

Then when I was sixteen I had the joy of riding on the back of a classic Triumph bike. As another song says, "Oh, what a feeling, what a rush!". I think that's when being on a motorbike REALLY took hold of me. Since that time I'd finangled my way on to the backs of my friends bikes ranging from Ninja's to Harleys. My heart has always been with the Harley Davidson though.

Here's another little secret about me...well, not so secret to some...I LOVE classic cars and classic bikes. LOVE THEM. My dream cars are the 1964 Corvette (mine would be stock cherry red with white leather interior) and the 1955 Chevy Belair (mine would be metallic purple with purple dingle balls and a pair of white fuzzy dice hanging from the rearview mirror).

But enough about cars, this piece is about bikes. A few years ago I looked into fulfilling a dream of mine - buying a Harley Davidson. A Sporster to be exact. Why the Sporster? Because for the most part the style of it hasn't changed since it was introduced in 1952 as the Model K Sport. She was a modern bike with classic styling, how could I not love it?! Anyways, I had been in the bike shop, talked about buying a Sporty and about taking lessons. Unfortunately, life went all pear shape in an unexpected way and buying a motorbike was out of the question. Life went on though and in quite a glorious way.

Flash forward six years later and I find myself moving back to my hometown and in the company of one of my dearest friends, Terresa, who's known me for 30 years. We had actually lost contact for almost 20 years when we finally found each other just before I moved back. Lucky for me she was as wonderful as she always was! She too shared the passion of the bike, but unlike me, she had acted on it.

So when I moved back she gave me a gental nudge and said, 'So, when are you going to get a bike?'. I had been busy drooling over photos of her Harley, a Dyna Lowrider. I mentioned that the first step would be lessons. Luckily for me she could refer me to the riding school she went to, Open Road Training. They were fantastic and in no time I was ready to take my drivers test.

First though, a bike. I wasn't in a rush to buy a bike per se, but knew that it would be better if I had one to ride and practice on. My dream was to get a Harley, but they were out of my price range. That was until Terresa, the miracle worker, mentioned a friend of hers was selling her Harley. And get this, it was a Sporster! Could this be true??? Could I possibly be an owner of a Harley Sporty??

Long story short, becasue there are other stories to tell, I did end up buying the bike. She is beautiful! She's a 1997 HD Sporster Hugger 883. Just right for a shorty like me.

Figure 1: My 1997 Harley Davidson Sporster Hugger 883

Next up after buying the bike, and before I went for my test, was several hours with my other friend, and Terresa's boyfriend, Reza. He and I rode to the PNE grounds parking lot where he put me through the gears of slow maneuvering on my bike. I'll admit it, I was a little overwhelmed by my bike at first. It was a Harley and it had a lot of power. But after hours of going around and around in small circles, doing figure eights, starting/stopping on a hill - with Reza standing in front of me so I HAD to stop, and learning to park on hills etc, I finally became one with my bike. Oh and lets not forget him making me get up to speed, slam the brakes on till the back end fishtailed, then start and turning. An excellent safety maneuver I should add! But scary when you are learning it!

All this practice was great because when it came time for me to do my drivers test, I aced it. I was comfortable and confident. But not too confident of course. I'm fully aware of the dangers of riding. After all, I was once employed as a vehicular accident reconstructionist! I know what can happen when bike meets (fill in the blank). Rule #1 of riding - NO ONE CAN SEE YOU! Which is the case most of the time so it's best to just assume it's like that 100% and hopefully you will avoid any 'incidents'.

It was because of that rule, and the fact that the parental unit weren't as excited as I was about my new toy that I decided to be smart...and respectful of their feelings. I got a bright orange vest. Sigh...

Figure 2: The vest - front side

Figure 3: The vest, back side.

At least the vest isn't TOO dorky. It does say Harley Davidson and it has kick ass reflective flames on the back side. True, I would love to ride the streets with a tank top on and sexy leather vest like my friends do, but the reality is I'm a safety girl. So I have my full face helmut, nice thick leather jacket with pads, and my vest. Oh, and I swear it gets brighter as it gets darker out. I stopped in at my friend Chris and Joanne's, long time owners and riders of sweet Harley's, one evening after riding. I think they were blinded by my vest. At least they didn't laugh at me??

Figure 4: Me, the vest, and my bike

I don't think the vest looks too horrible on. Actually, it's rather slimming. However, the other day I went riding with Terresa and Suzanne. We took the low road out to Horseshoe Bay, which is stunning! Once you get through West Van traffic, it's a curving windy road that follows the waterfront. Ahh, the smell of salt water while riding your bike is heavenly.

Here's the funny part... Terresa and Suzanne show up on their Harleys' wearing 'traditional' wear of jeans, tank tops and little leather vests. They look stunning to say the least, like something you'd see in a bike magazine. It was hot out, hence they opted not to wear their jackets. Me, I bundle up in my full face helmut, full leather jacket and, yup, the vest. I needed to get riding quick or I was going to fall over from the heat. The good thing was as soon as we started riding I was cool enough, except at the occassional long red light, which we kept getting.

As we rode the girls were in front of me. I kept noticing all the dudes in the cars and trucks around us checking them out. Funny, here I am wearing a bright orange vest but no one's looking at me! Before you think I'm being all 'poor whoas me', trust me, I'm not. I thought it was fantastic and had a good chuckle over it! Hey, I know underneath all these layers there is a Buddha Biker Babe, as my friend Ken so sweetly called me. I must say, I think that is one advantage of being a girl on a bike - you get noticed more, which is a good thing as hopefully that means the person won't cut into your lane. Heck even I get noticed when I'm on my own and they see the blond pigtail waving about outside my helmut! Or maybe it's the vest...

Figure 5: Buddha Biker Babe

Oh, I almost forgot! I named my bike 'Belle', after the Beauty and the Beast's character. Why? Because she's blue and Belle had a blue dress, plus Belle was spunky and sought out adventure. She wasn'ts afraid either.

I've been out on Belle a few times on my own and I love it! My heart rate goes up ever so slightly as I take her cover off (that my parents ever so kindly bought so she'd stay dry and clean) and start her up. She sounds ever so lovely...although the neighbors might think otherwise? Ah well. When they see the beaming smile I have while riding her, perhaps they'll forgive me for a slight noise disturbance now and then.

And maybe, just maybe, if you listen close as you pull up beside me, you might just hear the lyrics to a familiar a true natures child, we were born, born to be wild....

Peace out my born to be wild friends!


  1. Now there's a girl that's having LOTS of FUN!!! Love it


  2. I LOVE the orange jacket -- I think it looks awesome!! :) :)

    I am so proud of you for finally achieving your dream of owning a Harley AND for doing all that homework of turning figure eights, etc. WOW.

    My heart is in my throat just thinking of doing all that stuff!!

    Who knew our little ninja warrior princess was also a Buddha Biker Babe? Hee-hee!!!!!!

  3. Ah, I'm so excited for you! One of your life's dreams fulfilled! And I can't believe you were able to buy the exact bike you was truly fate. And I'm w/ Julie - I love the orange. I don't think it's dorky at all.