The Right Side of the Force

I just bought a new white helmet to go with my new white bike. Matching is extremely important to me.

But the more I look at this stark white helmet, the more I feel like I’m ready to play a stormtrooper.

Straight out of the Star Wars universe. But, I’m one of the good girls, right?

May the Force, and peace, be with you.

From my personal collection.

Over Exposed

Thursday evening Studly Doright and I rode to dinner on our respective motorcycles. We’d bought mine secondhand from a man in Panama City and spent Wednesday cleaning it up, checking it over, and airing up the tires. The bike isn’t pristine, but it’ll do nicely.

So, tonight was my maiden voyage on my 400 Yamaha Majesty. I got all ready to ride: helmet, gloves, long pants, and boots. It was so hot outside Studly said we could dispense with our riding jackets since we weren’t riding very far.

Off we went, Studly in the lead and me following at the prescribed distance. The first few miles of riding was on a gentle, two-lane backroad where I got to know the bike, noting where the mirrors needed to be adjusted, and the handlebars raised, and just generally remembering how to ride. All was good.

Until, that is, we merged onto a four-lane road where the speeds were considerably faster and my shirt, which I’d forgotten to tuck in began rising to expose my 63.75-year-old, lily white belly. At one point my bra, in all its grandmotherly glory, was in danger of being exposed.

I held my arms as close to my sides as possible, but not so much as to impede my ability to ride safely. People were passing us in cars, slowing down, it seemed to see how much higher my shirt might climb. I could almost sense their phones being set to camera mode so that my less than flat stomach could be captured for posterity.

So, in the next couple of days if you see a photo on the internet of an almost elderly woman riding on a white mega scooter with her even whiter belly reflecting the sun in all its glory, it might be me. I’m hoping it isn’t, but it just might be.

Definitely Not Me

Peace, people!

A New Bike

Studly found a 400 Yamaha Majesty on Craigslist today, and I think we are going to buy it for me. We’ll look at it on Wednesday (today) afternoon, I’m excited. It’s been awhile since I’ve had a bike.

The Majesty is a mega scooter, and so much fun to ride. I had one several years ago, but we sold it, and I’ve missed it so much.

I haven’t seen a picture of it yet, but I know it’s white. Here’s hoping it meets all of my expectations!


Peace, people!

For Jim

Oh, Jim,

When I close my eyes, I see your face,

I hear your voice, those words of wry wisdom and gentle humor.

For months I’ve known this day would come, still the news of your passing caught me off guard,

Hit me right in the heart.

Knocked me off my feet.

You were our leader. The one who made the exaggerated gesture—feet off the pegs, legs askew—while riding your motorcycle, making me laugh,

Even as I negotiated the curves on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

You never pushed me to ride over my head, simply let me ride my own pace.

Oh, how I’ll miss you.

Dear Jim,

I hope you’ll sing karaoke in heaven.

Itchy Boots Videos

In the evenings during our quarantine, Studly Doright and I have been watching a series of YouTube videos shot by a 31-year-old solo female adventure motorcyclist from The Netherlands. Her name is Noraly, and she is fearless.

I’ve subscribed to her blog and am enjoying every minute of it. Many of the videos are quite recent. On her planned trip from Patagonia to Alaska, she had a harrowing experience while trying to get out of Peru to keep from being quarantined there due to COVID-19. Her bike had to stay in Peru while she made it home to The Netherlands, and she’s unsure when, or if, she’ll be reunited with it.

She makes me want to be brave, but I have trouble being brave riding a motorcycle on smooth American roads. Noraly rides on all terrain—gravel, sand, rocks. She stops at checkpoints and speaks whatever language is necessary to get through. I can only speak English and a smattering of Spanish. What have I done with my life?

Motorcycle enthusiasts will enjoy Noraly’s adventures, but even non-motorcyclists will find something to enjoy in her videos. She meets so many lovely people who welcome her with open arms. These videos have restored much of my faith in humanity. And, they’re kind of addictive.

Peace, people.

International Book Club Report

Several of my readers asked for a follow up post about yesterday’s book club meeting, and I’m happy to oblige. For those unfamiliar with yesterday’s post, here’s the link:

This was my first Zoom experience, and for the most part the technology worked well. A couple of those attending experienced technical difficulties, and I know that was frustrating for them.

I believe there were nine of us in the meeting, and it truly was an international experience with one attendee from England and another from France. The U.S. was represented by folks from Texas, New Mexico, Oregon, Idaho, and Florida. Due to the time differences, some folks were enjoying a glass of wine while we met, while others were still savoring their morning cups of coffee. Me, being in the middle joined the wine drinkers, of course.

Opinions on the book, Infield by Téa Obreht were mixed. The story tended to appeal most to those of us who’d grown up in the Southwest. The themes of thirst and need certainly resonated with me. It’s not light reading, by any means.

But—there are camels in Infield. And who doesn’t love camels? A very small portion of the book is set in Camp Verde, Texas. Several years ago Studly Doright and I were staying in Kerrville, Texas, with a group of our motorcycling friends. The men left early one morning to enjoy riding the sweeping curves of the Texas Hill Country at speeds that make me shudder, while three of us women set off on our own slower paced ride.

It was my day to lead, and I hate being the leader, but I took my turn without too much grumbling. We had no destination in mind that day, so I just headed south. We hadn’t gone more than about 19 miles when I thought I’d begun hallucinating, for in the near distance stood a camel calmly grazing. There was a sign posted that read “Camp Verde” and another for a general store, so I made an executive decision and turned left into the parking lot.

My friends and I spent the entire morning at the General Store, shopping, having lunch, and learning about the Camel Corps.

The U.S. Army’s “Camel Corps” Experiment

It seems I got sidetracked on my book club report, but I’d recommend this method of meeting if your group is jonesing to get together. I’m not very savvy when it comes to technology, but I was able to join the meeting with ease. I did keep forgetting to mute my mic when others were talking. Next time I’ll put a sticky note on my computer to remind me.

Peace, people!

Studly’s New Old Bike

Studly Doright never thinks to take “before” pictures of his projects, and if it weren’t for me, there’d seldom be “after” photos, and that’s a shame. He does good work.

Studly has a fondness for rebuilding bikes from his past, and here’s his latest finished product. Trust me when I say it was pretty ragged when he first brought it home.

I forgot to ask him what year model this is, and he’s out riding it now, but I believe it’s an ‘83 model, XS650 Heritage Special. He’s done a complete overhaul on the engine, and did all of the detail work himself with only a little help from me—occasionally I had to shine a light into a dark crevice or hand him a tool so he didn’t have to get up from his work bench.

It’s great that he’s finished, except that now he’ll be jonesing for a new project. Maybe he’ll let me take the “before” photos this time.

Peace, people!

Nashville Bound

Thursday, November 14. I’ve been looking forward to this particular Thursday for two months now. Why? Because I’ll be driving the eight and a half hours to Nashville, Tennessee, to spend a weekend with some of the coolest women I know.

These are women I’ve ridden motorcycles with, cried with, argued with, and laughed with. They’re good women and great friends.

Studly Doright and I have moved so many times that it’s been hard to maintain friendships through the years. The core members of this group of women, though, has been there for me for at least two decades. And even though we don’t see each other more than once a year, I know they’d be there for me in a heartbeat. All I’d have to do is call.

Most of us are in our 60’s now. For some of us, our motorcycle riding days are over, but the ties that bind us together remain. We’ve made some wonderful memories, like the time we bought fake ponytails that caused us to speak in weird foreign accents. Or the impromptu talent shows that have resulted in fits of uncontrollable, pants-peeing laughter. I could go into more detail, but I’d likely be uninvited to Nashville, and nobody wants that.

I’ll pack my bags this morning. Should I pack that ponytail? I think I can still pull off the accent.

Peace, people!

Motorcycle Memories

(Note: I did something to hurt my back yesterday. Today I’ve been taking it easy while reminiscing about better times when I was young and wild and free to roam the earth on two wheels. Okay, I was never wild, but I used to be young and relatively free.)

Studly Doright, my husband of 43 years, has been riding motorcycles since way before we met. When we began dating during high school many weekends were spent at motocross races all over the Texas panhandle. He raced, and I cheered him on.

After we married in July of ’76, he bought me my first bike. It was a little Yamaha scooter called a Chappy.

I loved that little scooter, and rode it all over Dumas, Texas. (By the way, all of these photos are from Pinterest.)

After I’d gotten my feet wet with the scooter, Studly decided I was ready for a real bike and bought me a 175 Yamaha Enduro. I had to learn to shift gears on this bike. While it was licensed for street riding we mostly took it to the sandy trails of the Canadian River between Dumas and Amarillo. On one trip I ran over Studly’s former girlfriend when she crashed her bike in the mud. I swear it was an accident. Honest.

When we discovered we were going to be parents, I took a break from riding, and not until our youngest daughter was bound for college did I begin riding again. After 20 years out of the saddle I was both excited and nervous to be riding once more.

After much shopping for just the right bike we ended up buying a new 650 Yamaha V-Star. This photo looks exactly like my bike. It was gorgeous. I bought leather chaps and a leather jacket and new riding boots to complete the ensemble. I looked like a badass biker (nope, I still looked like a geek), but the 650 had no oomph. Keeping it going highway speeds was exhausting.

We sold it and bought a secondhand 1100 Yamaha Virago from David’s former brother-in-law. Let me see if I can find a photo of one.

While the one above is similar, my Virago was much more gorgeous. It was Dallas Cowboy blue and silver, and ran like a beast. The Virago was getting on in age when I bought it, though, and Studly was concerned that it wouldn’t hold up mechanically. It remains my favorite bike.

We sold the Virago before moving to Florida, and soon replaced it with a used ST F650 BMW, in the appropriate color of Orlando Orange.

I don’t recall the year model, but the one pictured above is pretty close. It was a nifty little bike, and my first sport touring motorcycle. Unfortunately it had some electrical issues that were worrisome. I wanted to take a solo trip, and Studly didn’t trust the bike to carry me the distance.

By the way, when I bought this bike I began wearing a mesh jacket and pants with padding in all the critical places. While my leather chaps looked edgier, the mesh was much more comfy and lots cooler. Besides, the chaps fell off the back of my Virago onto the interstate on a blistering hot July day, somewhere between Denver, Colorado, and Salina, Kansas. I hope someone worthy found them. Oh, I wasn’t wearing them at the time. That would’ve made for a much better story.

So, (I know, you’re probably sick of my bike reminiscing. Sorry, not sorry!) we sold the BMW and bought me a 400 Yamaha Majesty scooter. I loved this bike, as well.

No shifting required, plenty of get up and go, lots of storage. I rode it from Mahomet, Illinois, to Dallas, Texas, and back all by myself just after celebrating my 50th birthday. It was a crazy trip.

I’m still not sure why I sold this bike. Maybe I felt like I was getting too old and klutzy. Heaven knows I’m getting older, and I’ve always been klutzy. Once it was gone I didn’t really think about getting another bike. But then a friend bought a CanAm Spyder, and I thought maybe it would fit the bill. I wouldn’t have to worry about falling over or putting my feet down at stop lights, or any other of a million things I tended to stress over.

Studly got all excited that I wanted to ride again. He began researching bikes and soon a Spyder was sitting in our motorcycle garage. Let me rephrase that, a Spyder was dominating our motorcycle garage. The thing was massive compared to all of the other bikes in Studly’s stable. He could’ve parked two and a half bikes in the same area.

And, after riding it around Tallahassee and on backroads in the area I had to admit I didn’t love the Spyder. It was too clunky and I didn’t enjoy riding it. Plus, after a distracted driver rear ended my car last November I became a bit paranoid about riding a motorcycle. I didn’t shed a tear when the Spyder left the garage for that of another rider.

If you’ve stuck with me this long, thanks. Hopefully my back will feel better tomorrow, and I can get out and about. Honestly, I’m kind of proud of myself for remembering all my bikes. I might be old and klutzy, but I remember the important stuff. Just ask Dudley. Er, Studly.

Peace, people!

The Need for Speed

Are you an adrenaline junkie? Do you feel the need, the need for speed?

Not me. I’m the opposite of an adrenaline junkie, but not quite a couch potato. I don’t feel the constant need for speed, but I do enjoy having a bit of horsepower at my beck and call when the situation requires a burst of power.

I like cars that can get up to interstate highway speeds well before the entrance lane ends, but that don’t always feel like they need to be running at the Indy 500. I felt the same way about my motorcycles when I was riding.

After my car was rear ended by a distracted motorist back in November of last year I suffered from a bout of mild PTSD. Certain traffic situations made me flinch, and I couldn’t sleep without having vivid nightmares of being smushed between two vehicles. I sold my motorcycle as a result, knowing that had I been riding it the day of the accident I’d likely have been killed.

So, what’s the point of all this you ask? Well, Studly Doright and I are at a motorcycle rendezvous with some of our favorite people in the whole world. None of us are youngsters anymore. Most of the husbands in our group are still active riders, while some of the women, like me, have either stopped riding altogether, or have become passengers on their husbands’ bikes.

I’m okay being a non-rider most of the time, but when I hear the sounds of sport bikes my heart skips a beat and I start wondering if I gave up on being a rider too soon.

Yesterday I helped at one of the events at the rendezvous, pointing out the direction bikers needed to go for lunch. And I have to say I was eyeing bikes with a bit of desire. There was one BMW that stole my heart, made my pulse beat a little faster. All I’d have to do is mention to Studly that I was ready to ride again and I’d have a new bike within a week. So, I won’t, and I trust my readers won’t breathe a word of this to him. Shhhh.

Peace, people!