Prior to meeting SH, I pretty much refused to ride on a motorcycle. They absolutely terrified me.
To me motorcyclists were dangerous in the way they were always weaving in and out of cars, riding much too fast and ignoring any and all traffic laws. I had friends who had been in serious motorcycle accidents and a friends step-father who died in a bike accident.
Mudercycles. Donorcylcles. Two-wheeled coffins. Crotch Rockets. Not for me. No way, no how.
Shortly before we met, SH sold his Harley so he'd have money to move into the city. Three months into our relationship I was on vacation in Hawaii and got an email saying he bought a sport bike, and my heart sank. I really liked this guy and here he goes and buys a bike. And not any bike but this Japanese speed bike. BAH!
I like to say we are the perfect example of how 'opposites attract' - we couldn't have more diverse interests. I like to cook different meals; he would be happy eating the same few things ever night. I like to stay up late; he likes to get up early. I'm a big sister; he's a little brother. I love sports and live music; He loves anything with a motor - like cars and motorcycles.
The things we do have in common are our core values and willingness to do things the other enjoys. Enter riding motorcycles. So I knew once he bought this bike I would likely have to get on it and I was not happy.
I trust SH and his riding abilities, he's been riding since he was 16 and motorcycles were a big part of his upbringing. I just don't trust other people driving around the motorcycle.
I clearly remember my first ride, he didn't take it easy on me bringing me on the very narrow and windy Storrow Drive in Boston. I was scared out of my mind, but there was this little part of me that got excited. I ended up buying my own helmet and fully-armored jacket so I could ride with him. It was fun but the seat on that thing, well it was basically non-existant. And I hated how sharp he had to take corners, I felt like my leg was going to scrape along the road even though I was nowhere near it. If I was uncomfortable, any little movement I made would throw the weight of the bike. I found myself wishing he had his Harley back.
Fast-forward almost seven years. We're married, living in our first house and SH has a big garage with his bike just sitting in the corner collecting dust. He hadn't ridden in a couple of years. The bike wasn't want wanted anymore. He wanted a Harley.
We were able to sell his Ninja to a friend of his and I was surprised by the pang of sadness and guilt I felt when it pulled out of the driveway for the last time. I felt like he was giving up part of himself for me, even though he never uttered those words out loud. I was worried that life would get in the way and he'd never get another bike and I'd feel guilty for the rest of my life. We made it a priority to save so he could get the bike he wanted.
He decided he wanted a Sportster. It's a small and light Harley. It's also affoardable. He wanted to make sure I would enjoy riding enough with him before diving in and getting a Dyna (maybe a Wide Glide?) or a bigger bike.
We found the perfect one in January of this year. Buying a bike in the winter is smart when you live in the North East. There isn't a lot of demand and you can often get a better deal. We got an amazing deal.
We bought his bike from a private seller. It's a 2004 Harley Davidson Sportster with a 1200cc motor. It's a touring-style bike so it has a forward-mounted shifter and brake controls as well as a larger gas tank and more chrome than some other Sportster models.
The 2004 Sportster was the first year of that model having rubber-mounted motors which makes the bike very comfortable.
The previous owner of this particular bike added even more chrome as well as a removable windshield and rigid leather saddlebags and luggage rack. He also added a touring-style seat which was huge for me. Why? Well it has a larger passenger seat with a sissy bar (back rest). He also made some engine modifications which include a Screamin' Eagle air cleaner, Sampson exhaust pipes and the carbs were re-jetted to handle all of the extra air flow. This bike is LOUD. In fact, my house shakes when SH starts it up.
Spike isn't as sold on the bike as we are.
Please note: We would NEVER ride with the dog in the saddle bags. I do, however, have this vision of getting a side car so he can ride along in that. How freaking cute would that be? He already rocks the flamed-doggles in the 'Vette (where he is harnessed in - safety first!) he could totally rock the sidecar. Am I right??? SH doesn't buy it.
Here I am prior to my first ride on the Harley.
Let's clear something up.
I KNOW it is not cool for Harley riders to wear a full-faced helmet or an armored jacket. These things go with Sport bikes and while this is a Sportster, it is not the same. I get that. I also feel that in order for me to enjoy myself on the bike, I have to feel as safe as possible. That means riding with someone I trust with my life, wearing a full-faced helmet and armored jacket.
I've lightened up on SH every so slightly. He has a 3/4 helmet, but still wears the jacket and he's ok with that. Mark that off as reason 1,000,001 why I love him.
So here I am, on my way to becoming a Harley woman. I love this bike. It's comfortable for me, and fun for SH.
I've overcome a lot of my fears and mis-conceptions of motorcycles and their riders. While there are irresponsible bike riders, there are also irresponsible car drivers. I've found that many accidents aren't due to mistakes made by bikers, but by other drivers. This post isn't to debate the safety of motorcycles, but please, when you're driving make sure to take extra caution and notice any bikes around you.
I'm not going to lie and say I'm 100% comfortable on the bike. I still won't ride on the highway, and worry so much that it sometimes takes away from enjoying the ride but I'm getting there.
Who knows, by the time SH is ready to upgrade maybe I'll want to ride on my own and the Sportster can become mine? I look forward to going on our first cruise with other bikers, including many members of our family.
Have you tried new things because they were an interest of your significant other? Has it become a part of your lifestyle?