We went riding last Saturday. I sat behind Didier on the back of his Harley as we followed his friend Zach McIntyre, a former St. Albans resident who now lives in Oklahoma, from our home in Hurricane to his parent’s house in Ravenswood.
Didier and Zach served together in the Marines. Zach is now a high school psychology teacher, and he and his teenage son Taos have spent the summer traveling all over the country—as they do most every year, with their motorcycles stashed in the back of their truck.
Not long after Zach arrived at our house Saturday afternoon, I was telling him about an old Harley scooter I’d seen on TV. Turns out Zach’s dad has restored a 1960s Harley Topper scooter and has it for sale.
That was all the destination motivation we needed to be on the road heading from Hurricane to Ravenswood the back way, over Route 34 North. The road twists up Red House hill and then starts bending back and forth so much it’s a wonder it doesn’t break. Time wise, it has to be the longest 20-mile stretch of road in the state.
We connected with other back roads and looped through such beautiful country, the air fragrant with freshly cut hay and burning brush piles and fired up barbeque grills. Wind soft on my face. Bugs wedged deep in my teeth.
I’m still fairly new to this bike-riding business, but I’m learning. Talking or smiling while riding comes with a risk.
Although this was not my first ride, it was my first long one. Didier has had his bike since well before we met, but shoulder surgery left him feeling shaky about being able to adequately handle the heavy bike around curves, so his bike has mostly been decorating our garage for a while.
We stretched our ride out with a few detours down back roads, but eventually reached the McIntyre home, where I got to spend a little time with the most interesting family. Although I was only with them an hour or two, they felt like people I’d known all my life. I learned it wasn’t just Zach and his son who’d been infected with wanderlust—the whole family has it. I listened with envious ears as they talked of cross-country motorcycle trips of the past and plans for more.
I haven’t spent much time around bikes or the people who ride them. Prior to this road trip, I’d never given motorcycles much thought. They were a means of transportation, but to me, an often impractical and somewhat dangerous means. I’m a fairly sensible, conservative person. I’m a windows rolled up, doors locked, seatbelt on sort of girl. Motorcycles don’t make sense for people like me.
And yet holy crow, was that fun!
I wasn’t around the McIntyres all that long, but realized they’ve figured out how to live more than others. They get the same number of hours in a day as the rest of us, but seem to know how to squeeze more life out of theirs.
I’ve long been living a car kind of life. Getting from here to there to the next place in a safe and mostly sensible way. Without fragrant air in my lungs. Without wind tangling my hair. Without a bug or two speckling my smile.
Without fully living every hour I’m given each day.
Even though I’m not brave enough (yet) to buy a bike of my own, I’m determined to make more time for the road.
Since I’ve learned that four wheels might move the body, but two can awaken the soul.