Mid-Life Rider

rambling through mid-life on motorcycles

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Conversation with FJRChick

February 25th, 2008 · No Comments

Every one of these conversations is like a gift. There’s a gem in each of them. I met FJRChick online at the FJRforum. I love her answer to my first question.

When did you first ride a motorcycle?

I rode for the first time in the fall of 1991. Here is the story of what prompted me to ‘ride my own’.

I’m at a party with a bunch of guys from my unit and the talk turns to riding motorcycles. My buddy starts talking about how much I love to ride and what a great passenger I am on his sport bike. Apparently, my extra 120 lbs. is not enough to slow his bike down and the added weight on the back makes cornering more fun. Well the motor pool sergeant asks me if I’d like to go for a ride on his cruiser. I always want to ride on a motorcycle. Call it a weakness, call it a passion, call it what you will, I jump at any opportunity to ride without reservation.

The guy looks me in the eye and says “Ass, gas or grass?” Excuse me? What did you just say? He restates, “Ass, gas or grass? No split tail touches my bike without a fee”.

Now my Army days are long gone, and it took me a long time to clean up my language, so I cannot accurately nor as colorfully describe what I think of his attitude. An internal confrontation rages in my head. How could he say that to me? What kind of reputation do I have around the unit? Why am I in this situation? I’m not an idiot. I’m perfectly capable mentally and physically to ride a motorcycle. I have an income high enough to buy a motorcycle. Why do I allow someone else to have the choice to give or take away something I desire?

That was the moment I decided to ride my own.

What was the first bike you owned?

1991 Yamaha Virago 750

I’ve never felt a sense of belonging like when I ride. That first bike, and all since, are my sense of home.

Most of the time, I feel like I’m experiencing life from another room looking through a window when I interact with people. It is like there is some secret of ‘normalness’ and acceptance I can’t understand or share. I used to think it stemmed from the Gulf War, but I’m not sure that’s true.

I enjoy socializing and people-watching in large crowds. But I fear if people really knew me, they would confirm I’m not ‘of’ them. I think about things too deeply too often. I have conflicting values with a heightened sense of responsibility, and an uncontrollable urge to achieve.

When I ride, the road and land embrace me. People at pit stops are strangely like guardians. I can’t count how many times I’ve felt a stranger’s care for my safety.

How many bikes have you owned?

Three – ’91 Virago 750, ’93 Virago 750, ’04 FJR1300

What do you own now?

’04 Yamaha FJR1300

How many miles do you expect to ride this year?

Around 10,000

Helmet of choice?

Whatever is safest and most comfortable. I have a SHOEI now.

Riding gear (street) of choice?

Whatever is safest and most comfortable.

What attracted you to motorcycling?

Can you be born with that kind of love? I would say my dad, but this picture is the only proof I have that he liked motorcycles at all. He always said he hated them and I wasn’t allowed ride. As I grew, a family friend of my mom and step-dad had a motorcycle and was a biker in a club. I would polish his Harley for hours so he would take me for a ride. It all ended when I developed “mosquito bites”.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone coming to motorcycles for the first time?

Make the experience your own and don’t criticize other people for their choices. Everyone has their own reason they ride and non-riders may not understand. It’s your experience, envision your desired outcome and go for it.

What bike would you recommend (and why)?

Again, it depends. I definitely recommend coming into motorcycling humble. I’d recommend a cheap purchase to focus on your riding abilities and not whether or not you scratch it. Don’t think you can do it all right away and don’t give up if it isn’t as easy as you think. There are different ‘ways’ to ride. Cruising with your friends around town, tearing it up on a track, the Patriot Guard rides, rallies, long distance competitive, (my favorite->) picking a direction and go and many more, none of them are wrong.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve done on/with a motorcycle?

I intend to meander around the US for five weeks this year. As far as in the past, I’ve been to the Gap a few times, ridden all around the southeast US to various battlefields and a few owners meet ups, been to mile 0 of US 1 in Key West a couple of times, but I’d have to say taking my son on a Patriot Guard ride might be it. It was a moving experience for both of us and I think he has a better understanding of what being an American means.

If you could pick one place you’d recommend as a riding destination / experience, what/where would that be?

Hmmmm, one place, a drive up place named Call’s outside of Brigham City, Utah. After you’ve had the best root beer ever. You can pick a direction and have a blast. Go North to glide through the beautiful mountains and make sure to head up to Willard’s Peak and feel like your on top of the world, wander southwestish and see desert plains and promontory point where the US truly became America. Lean eastward awhile around the Great Salt Lake, then fly southwest again across the salt flats, but don’t forget to stop at what I call the Wonka tree before you hit Nevada. Or instead of south west keep going south and see the amazing Arches National Park and/or Lake Powell.

If someone handed you a blank check and said “go buy a motorcycle you’d enjoy riding (not just collecting), what would you pick?

The FJR has everything I need. I want to be able to move quickly if needed, not stop unless I want to, not have to look hard to find a place for maintenance. And I want something that look goods with or without luggage and is comfortable.

FJRChick

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