It’s a great day for a motorcycle ride.
And that’s just what I’m gonna do. What we are gonna do. And I’m not ridin’ bitch on the back of some boy’s Harley, either. (I’m not necessarily anti-Harley, but I don’t think that Harleys are the be-all end-all of cycles, either.)
I used to happily ride bitch. I few times I even fell asleep b/c the road was smooth and the sun was warm and the motor was purring and I just couldn’t help myself. So I’d nod off but somehow manage to hang on and it would freak the Boy right out. He used to joke that he was going to get himself one of those T-shirts that says (on the back) “If you can read this, the bitch fell off.”
But I soon got bored with the backseat. There wasn’t a whole lot to do except hang on, stare around and try not to clonk your helmet into his helmet when he came to an unexpected stop. So after awhile I stopped riding along and Boy got offended. He thought that either I had lied and didn’t really like motorcycles or that he must smell real bad. Neither of those are true. I just expected more from my motorcycling experience.
So Boy got all brilliant and signed me up for a motorcyle-riding class. At first I wasn’t that into the idea. I hadn’t seen many girls riding bikes and most of the ones I had seen fit more into the “broads” class. Their skin was more leathery than the fringed chaps that they loved so much. They were also unnecessarily into riding in bikini tops, wrinkled stomach flab hanging over and obscuring their turquoise belt buckles. No thanks.
But San Francisco is a two-wheeled town, the streets full of all manner of bicycles, scooters and motorcycles. So I decided that maybe I could be a scooter-girl. An Amelie in the driver seat. And Boy convinced me that the motorcycle class would serve me well as a Sassy Scooter Maiden. So I went.
First there was the classroom thing with the book-learning version of riding. (Here is the clutch, here is the throttle.) There were a few too many of the Driver’s Ed style videos with the horrible acting and violently grinning talking heads saying stuff like “Always wear your helmet. It’s the law in California. If you don’t wear it, the whole world will see the exact color and consistency of your brain matter as it smears across the pavement like so much cream cheese.”
I had never paid much attention when Boy was in the driver’s seat, and I had never ridden a dirt bike, so I had some trouble remembering to shift with my toes. So the first day on the driving range as 20 of us lined up in our jeans and boots and martian-sized helmets, I kept muttering to myself “Clutch on the left hand. Gas on the right.” And then the instructor pointed me to a little red Nighthawk and my Scooter delusions skipped right out of my head.
Even backseat bitches will tell you there’s nothing like riding a motorcycle. The freedom. The exhilaration. The power. Well, when you’re the one doing the actual riding instead of just sitting, you can multiply all that exhilaration by ten thousand.
From the moment I first rolled on the gas and leaned into my very first turn, I was a goner. I loved it. I couldn’t believe it had taken me so long to figure out that I was a motorcycle rider. I couldn’t wait to get my license and hit the open road for real. And Boy, he knew it all along.
The day I finished my class and received the little white piece of paper that told the DMV to give this girl a Class M license, Boy picked me up in the Jeep, drove me home and rolled open the garage door to reveal a shiny blue motorcycle of my very own. It was better than Christmas.
She was so obviously a chick ‘cycle, so obviously meant for me. Tall enough to make room for my long legs, thin enough to let me lane split without fear of taking off car mirrors and blue like the blue of the morning sky on this fine motorcycle ridin’ day. I named her Betty Blue. (I name everything. Our Jeep’s name is Dana, and he’s a sexy gay man.)
Betty Blue is a badass bitch of a cycle. If she were a human she’d be a Betty Page in boots and garters. We’ve been together for nearly two years now. And when the rainy season keeps us indoors, I start to get an itch in my throttle hand and begin making random comments to strangers like, “God, I miss Betty!”
So when I woke up a few minutes ago and saw that the sky is the perfect twin to Betty’s gas tank, well, I started shinin’ my riding boots.
I’m going to let Boy sleep in but as soon as he’s up we’re going to fire up our bikes and head down Highway 35 through the mountains and the woods to Alice’s for a biker-sized burger. Then we’ll cut over to the Pacific Coast Highway and head back north along the beach, watching the sun turn the surf to liquid light and listening to the hum of our engines pulling us home.
-Lo, who is in no danger of becoming a gearhead.