My hometown of Johnstown, PA hosts a big motorcycle rally every summer: Thunder in the Valley. We used to go every year, but when we gave the bike up, we gave Thunder up, too.
But now we have a bike again.
Now one of the (many) reasons I stopped riding last time was my husband's insistence on utilizing every safety precaution known to man. (Which completely counters one of the other reasons I stopped: I didn't think it was safe.) Now those of you who are cluck-clucking and saying, "Tammy, there is no such thing as too much safety. You are clearly a reckless gadabout and ne'er do well with no respect for life", hear me out. (Once again, isn't it eerie how accurately I can read your thoughts?)
Gearing up for a ride - EVEN IN SUMMER - consisted of long jeans, heavy boots, a leather jacket (with armor), a full-face helmet, gloves, and chaps. Yes, my friends, chaps. Now for those of you who don't know me or haven't seen me in a while, it is with a heavy heart that I inform you that of all the fruit shapes a body can adopt, mine has chosen the pear to emulate. The posterior? She is more than ample. The effect of chaps on an ample derriere is considerably less than delightful. Fat-bottomed girls, in chaps, assuredly do NOT make the rockin' world go round. It's like effectively drawing a circle around it for emphasis. "Oh, and in case you were in danger of missing it - HERE'S MY ASS!!!"
Man I hated those chaps.
And in summer, I hated it all.
We would go to rallys and bike nights and my husband would point out women - sometimes even my age and every now and then even my size - wearing cute, sexy little tops. "Why don't you ever dress like that?"
"Because I'd just have to cover it with a frackin' leather coat of armor! Geez, for all you or anyone else knows I might BE dressed like that under here!"
Boys can be stupid.
No offense intended to my three esteemed male readers.
So when we got this bike, the hubs assured me that he was ready to lighten up. He still insisted on full gear for highway riding, but for jaunts around town we could tone it down a notch or two.
The retirement of Safety Boy was a huge factor in my encouraging him to get a bike this time 'round. Being in danger of heat stroke doesn't feel safe.
He rode to Johnstown, fully geared up, while I followed in the car with the girls. We dropped our stuff (and the girls) off at my parents house and decided to hit Thunder. Just a little jaunt around town.
"You don't have to gear up, if you don't want to."
"Seriously? How much do I have to wear?"
"Whatever you want."
"So I don't have to wear boots?"
"Nah, you'll be fine."
"How 'bout a jacket?"
"We're only going a couple miles..."
"How 'bout a HELmet?" I asked teasingly. We're both very pro-helmet. I was really only kidding.
"Let's leave 'em. It's only a couple miles."
Riding through my parents neighborhood in a sleeveless top with no helmet was downright blissful. Freeing. I was giggling like the simple shit I am (right below the surface).
Then we pulled out onto the main road. Not a highway. A little road. But a busy one. And I didn't like it. I felt vulnerable and scared. I envisioned my smashed skull on the pavement at every turn. I thought about my soon to be inevitably orphaned children. I felt stupid beyond almost all reason. What had possessed me to DO this? Never again, I vowed (the way one is wont to vow to oneself when one is right smack dab in the middle of a stupid decision).
We made it to the festival and I was tempted to pick up a cheap helmet from a vendor. I know they're not the sort of helmets that actually offer much protection (other than protection from the authorities in states with helmet laws) but I thought one might give me some peace of mind for the ride back to my parents' house.
I was really getting nervous about getting back on the bike without gear. I felt naked, and not in a good way.
And then, with barely a warning, the skies opened up and it started to rain. Hard. I don't know why I didn't see it coming. this was Johnstown, after all. Known, if it's known at all, for it's floods. Now we were going to have to ride back to the house without gear in the RAIN. Even if it cleared up (which it did) we were going to be riding on wet roads.
Message recieved, universe.
As God is my witness, I'll never go lidless again.
Can't say the same about the chaps.