Sunday, June 28, 2009

It Wouldn't Be Thunder Without a Little Rain

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!"

(I wasn't.)

Boys can be stupid.

No offense intended to my three esteemed male readers.

But sheesh.

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.


Housewife Savant said...

First off, I do not buy it that an ample a** looks bad in chaps.
Speaking for flata**ed women everywhere I say puh-leez.
Give. Me. A reason to wear chaps.

Didja ever have a near-fall on a stairway and suffer with the realization that falling at 40 is waaaaay diferent than when our kids tumbled down?
OMG. I'm old and way more fragile than I was in my 20s.
I'm wearing a helmet just to walk down to the basement these days.

Sandy said...

Glad you guys got a bike again, hope you have a great and safe time with it. Okay, I live in a state that mandates passengers wear helmets. I haven't had my own ride in 30 years and even when I did, I wore a helmet. Paul wears his more than he doesn't (I think, he might not always tell the truth about that). I don't ride with him much since I fell down half a flight of stairs on my tailbone 3 years ago and haven't been the same since. But when I do, especially that first ride in the spring, I look down at the pavement saying to myself....."can't afford to hit that, can't afford to hit that."

I've never worn chaps, a big investment for not a lot of riding. I'm pretty sure I would HATE them. I like to gear up in the cooler weather but not in the summer. I have been known to ride helmetless and it feels very freeing but I can't imagine riding down the interstate at 75 mph that way as I see so many people doing.

Unknown said...

I think I'd want a helmet too, I'm amazed how many bikers I see in FL without one......and then I hear of the accidents...sad.
I am glad you had fun before the rain.....

Mama-Face said...

Great Story. Pear shapes are more healthy than the Apple type, so that's good news for you, right? Cuz I am one big stinking apple. I would roll right off of a motorcycle.

Yeah, I haven't ridden a motorcycle in years. I do remember watching the pavement and imagining how much the road rash would hurt, too dumb to realize I would most likely be dead.

Now I know better. And have very little fun. For some reason I feel like saying "keep on truckin'" to you. :)

so be sure to follow my advice...but always wear your helmet!

Pam said...

Scarlet, you should most definitely wear a helmet. You can lose the chaps if you want to, though. Just the thought of having to wear them makes me shudder.

Macey said...

I would be a watermelon. One that was too fat to even get on the bike. And if I did make it on the bike, I'd pop the tire. :)

Kathy B! said...

I'm glad to hear that!!

The perspective that comes with a little age is a GOOD thing, for sure.

Claudya Martinez said...

Serves you well you reckless gadabout. I hope you learned your lesson. You deserve a spankin' on that big bottom of yours. I'm glad you guys made it home safely.

Alex the Girl said...

They don't call them chaps for nuthin, huh? I think I'd have a hard time even finding chaps to circle my fat bottomed girl. And how did she make his rockin world go round anyway? Hmm? Makes you wonder.

I laughed my ass off (now I can wear chaps) thought the entire thing.

Good Post Tammy.

Jenni said...

Hey! I had a friend who lived there! We took a ride up a hill on some thingy jobber! Good times...

Melissa B. said...

You're a brave woman. I've stayed away from motorcycles since I was in a bike wreck my senior year of high school. No one was seriously injured, thank God, but we were pretty banged up!

BTW, my youngest just launched a photo blog, and I'm shamelessly trolling for traffic. Please visit my site to see what she's got going, and pay her a visit!

Mrs. Jelly Belly said...

Chaps? Egads. I didn't even know they made those for WOMEN.

God sure has a way of making you see the light, doesn't he? But still, I'd have to give some thought to a helmet and what it might do to my hair! :(

Great post!

Gibby said...

You had me laughing out loud with the chaps. As for the helmet, remember I'm the girl who, when my friend took me on his bike and went 25 MPH, was screaming that he was going too fast. Oh yeah, and you know when you go on beach vacations and use those little scooter things? Yeah, that makes me nervous, too. I told you I'm a bike dork.

Cammie said...

this was an awesome story....and no way would I ever wear chaps!