My 64th birthday was wonderful! Studly Doright surprised me by taking a day off of work, and we enjoyed a late breakfast at a local restaurant. Afterwards we dressed in our riding gear and took a motorcycle ride to Seminole State Park.
It was supposed to be a short ride—no more than sixty miles round trip, but a section of the road was closed due to a bridge being under repair. Did we give up? Hell, no. Studly programmed a different route into his gps and off we went.
Many, many miles later we reached the state park. There, we found a shady spot to park our bikes and hiked for a bit. The weather was perfect—temperatures in the mid-70’s and an almost cloudless blue sky. Studly posed for me in the “chapel.” See the steeple?
Afterwards we stopped at Spring Creek Resort somewhere near Donalson, Georgia, for a terrific lunch. I ate way too much, but hey, calories do not count on one’s birthday. That’s a fact.
The ride home was easy and uneventful. That is, until we turned into our housing development. The road to Doright Manor is filled with curves and hills, and for some reason, going around one curve I rolled on the throttle and came mere inches from becoming an off-road rider. Fortunately, I corrected my path and stayed on the pavement. The alternative wouldn’t have been pretty, and I likely wouldn’t be writing this blog post right now. 😳
Still congratulating myself for avoiding a major disaster I rolled into the driveway and up to the ramp into Studly’s garage. The bike was at an awkward angle, so I killed the engine and asked Studly if he’d ride the bike into the garage for me. Of course he said he would. That’s why I call him Studly Doright!
But guess who tried to get off the bike without putting her kickstand down? Yes, that would be me. In the blink of an eye I was hitting the driveway, my helmet bouncing off the asphalt and the bike laying on top of me.
Miraculously, only the windshield was damaged in the fall, and we’d already decided the aftermarket shield was too tall for my liking, so we will just replace it sooner rather than later.
My helmet saved my noggin from serious injury. My head literally bounced when I landed. And I landed on my right side. That’s the same side I injured when I fell into/out of bed a few weeks ago, so at least I still have one operational side.
So maybe it’s time I got a stunt double. Contact me if you’re interested. I can’t pay much, but you’ll never be bored.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.