Hi, I’d like to introduce myself to this forum. My name is Gwen.
I’ve been riding since an early spring day in 1999 when I was filling up my 1985 Dodge Caravan with fuel. I kinda threw a fit at the pump. See, I thought it cost a lot of money to fill up. I said out loud, “I’m going to buy a motorcycle!”
I drove straight to the Honda shop, walked in and when the salesman asked, “Can I help you?” I said “I want to buy a motorcycle”. Even as the words fell out of my mouth, I couldn’t believe I was the one speaking them.
The look on his face when I answered his questions was priceless, “No, I’ve never even sat on one. No, I have no idea what kind of bike I want. No, I’ve not taken any motorcycle classes. Yes, I’m sure I want to buy a motorcycle”
To his credit he did the right thing in my opinion. He sold me a used Honda Rebel and helped me pick out my first riding gear, a helmet, Joe Rocket jacket and gloves. Of course I had to wait for them to deliver the bike the following week, so I went to the DMV for my endorsement. A week later it arrived. The delivery guy took an hour showing and explaining to me where the gas goes, all the controls, how to adjust the chain and some general safety tips like don’t break in turns and what to do if I get a flat tire.
Then it hit me! Holy shit! I bought a motorcycle!!!
I walked past it for a week to drive my van to work, still thinking ‘What the hell were you thinking Gwen’. I was scared shitless to tell my parents. How silly is that, I was 37 years old. But I knew they are NOT going to like it and have never had issues with expressing their thoughts. Don’t get me wrong, they love me and only want what’s best for me.
Well, the weekend had arrived and it was time to go to work. In the mid afternoon, I walked around the bike like I was dancing with a cobra, afraid to touch it yet fascinated by it. So beautiful, so deadly. Like the old folks used to say, ‘you need to poop or get off the pot’. So I donned my riding gear for the first time, and all the while feeling like an astronaut suiting up to head into the unknown. The metaphor was not wasted on me.
I sat on the bike for the first time and studied the controls as I ran my fingers over them and softly spoke their names under my breath, “throttle”, “clutch”, “front break” “lights”.
My right hand grasped the key and turned it to ‘on’ and ………….. I pushed the start button.
Oh my God! That was so cool! I thought. The bike purred and something sleeping in my soul stirred. I felt it move, and a broad smile broke like the morning sun across my face. The thing inside me blinked and looked around.
At the time, I lived on 60 acres with a mile to the first pavement and that concerned me, but there was nothing I could do about it, so I gently rolled on the throttle and eased out on the clutch and the bike rolled forward.
I made it to the pavement without dropping it and felt damn lucky though it never behaved like I was going to. I then rode up and down the blacktop until I was sure I could make it go, stop and turn. I figured that’s all I needed to know. (Boy, was I naive, but that’s for another time) I rode back home, found an old backpack, and stuffed my nursing uniform, shoes, comb and lunch in it.
Upon closing the door to leave for work that night, I knew my life had changed, though to what degree I was oblivious. I rode 60+ miles to work on 55mph roads doing 45mph and waving all the traffic behind around me because I was too frightened to go faster. (I got over that to within one point of losing my license)
By the time I arrived at work and parked the bike, the once sleeping entity was fully awakened. It was excited, impassioned and most of all joyful. It was ebullient! And I reflected that feeling in my smile and my pounding heart.
That was 1999 and since that day I never looked back. I rode over 20,000 miles that year. Learned how to deal with the weather, the road and traffic. I have since been through the Honda Rebel, a Honda Shadow 600, a Honda 1300 VTXc, (2) 2005 BMW R1200ST’s and now only have my 1993 K1100RS (which I’ve had for years) Every year after 1999 I rode 30,000 to 40,000 miles and in 2006 I rode 60,300 miles. My total now is a little over 200,000. In time, I eventually took the MSF courses. I rode 100% alone until 2004. I have had several crashes and walked away from them all by the grace of God and wearing all the gear didn’t hurt. All totaled I broke both collar bones in two separate crashes, broke my sternal-clavical joint with cardiac contusion, 3 ribs, ACL and MCL right knee, concussion, burst fracture T6, fracture T7, and fractures of T5 through T10 left lateral spinus processes.
I’ve hit a car, a dog and deer, a guardrail and the road. I’ve known the exquisite pain of frozen hands and exalted in beat-to-death exhaustion from a 1500-mile day. I’ve known the love of strangers that helped this wayward traveler with a tank of gas, directions, a warm, safe bed to rest my road-weary bones and helping hands with open hearts that helped me do a trannyectony / clutchectomy on my K1100RS while broke down in High Level, Alberta. I’ve known the joy of shared stories of the road with other riders that “get it” and feel the acceptance of my fellow riders around a crackling fire. I’ve slept on the road by or on my bike and felt she was watching over me. I’ve posed her with signs and flowers and mountains and at time when she was naked on the lift getting some maintenance or a new toy.
I love my K1100RS like no bike I’ve even known. Her official name is Ichimokusan, which means “as fast as I can go” but her nickname is The Shop Whore. Within 2 years from the date of purchase, she cost me over $10,000, (long story) but I loved her like an S&M mistress. No matter how she hurt my wallet, I kept going back for more. Love is a strange thing indeed.
Thank you for reading my introduction and I look forward to reading this forum and maybe I can add to it in some positive way.
Ride with joy,
Nana Korobi Ya Oki