Can a person fall in love on the back of a motorcycle?
There was a time when I would have guffawed at the suggestion. Maybe in the movies, I would have said, but not in real life. Not in my life. Because I’ll also admit that there was a time, in my not too distant past, I when I was a little bit hard on the culture of motorcycle riding – whether cruiser, sport, street or vintage bike.
But this summer, as my husband contemplates selling his yellow Kawasaki Ninja 500 R, I’ve surprised myself by feeling a little bit sentimental about the silly thing, and the part it played in bringing us closer together some six years ago.
We were just new friends at the time, mildly attracted to one another but not at a place of acting on it yet. Learning of my lack of interest in motorcycles and motorcycle riding, he took it upon himself to convince me of its awesomeness.
The chosen route was down Westside Road, across the lake from Kelowna and winding along above its shores to Vernon.
While the experience failed to plant any aspirations in me to become a biker chick – I still have no desire to learn how to drive a motorcycle and would not wish to ride two-up on a regular basis – I will say this: Anyone who hasn’t sped down a highway at I don’t know what speed on two wheels, below a canopy of stars, has missed an essential element of life.
For those who haven’t had the pleasure, riding on a motorcycle is like this: For a brief moment in time there is no time, no deadlines or concerns – it’s just you, the wind and the open road. It is, dare I say, a glimpse of eternity.
We left in the early evening, after the rush hour traffic through town had begun to let up. It was still light on the way to Vernon. The sky was as blue as the lake we travelled beside – which was just below us, at the foot of a cliff, plunging down to its shore.
As we drove we passed sailboats. Little rustic cabins. Two deer and – later – a small brown bear ambling up the hill to our left. I brought my camera along and, when we weren’t flying around tight bends or up and down roller coaster hills, I tried to snap a few shots – lake, trees, lake and trees, trees and lake, blur of grass, twisty road, signs warning of twisty road, etc.
When I wasn’t pointing and shooting I was holding on for dear life. As if simply riding on the back of a motor bike wasn’t novel enough, I experienced the totally foreign (to me) experience of putting everything I was – i.e. life itself – into the hands of another person who was driving with it at 130 klicks down a windy road on only two wheels with no roof, with an embankment to my immediate right. This was trust. This was vulnerability. This was me lacking in control. This was giving my entire destiny over to another (assumedly prudent) driver … and actually loving the ride! That on its own was a trip and a half.
Coming home along the highway, after a coffee stop in Vernon, was very different, but equally as stimulating. By this time it was dark, so there wasn’t as much of our surroundings to see. The four-lane highway is much less hilly and winding. But the stars – they were everywhere. Right over top of us as we streamed together down this ribbon of ashphalt. It was the closest feeling I’ve had to really flying – more so even than enclosed in an aircraft. It was just us and the wind.
A year and a half later we were married. Three years later we entered the world of parenthood and bike rides, for my husband, became limited to a commute to and from work. Last year, it didn’t even do that much and it sits, now, in our garage, a relic of more unfettered days.
Will I miss the little Kawasaki if and when it sells? Probably not a whole big lot. But I might just have to take one more ride down Westside Road before it happens… for old time’s sake.
– Story and photos by Lori-Anne Poirier