The bike

Love on pavement.

I see our shadows on the pavement. Mine behind his. Slowly we become one before disappearing completely as we turn with the curve of the freeway, West. The sun is on us now and we have three more hours left to Louisville. In a car that would be one thing, but on the back of a bike it’s another thing entirely.

He lets his hand down every time we pass another biker. It’s a signal. Wheels down. His arm falls straight, fingers pointing to the ground. Down, not up, like the wheels should be. It’s a universal code they all know. Only bikers to bikers. Not bikers to scooters or bikers to cyclists. And if you break it? If you don’t simultaneously lower your hand with the fingers pointing to the ground… well, I’m not entirely sure what happens. Maybe your karma is jacked and your wheels turn up?

The countryside flies by.

First Cincinnati with its skyscrapers, metal and glass shining against the blue Ohio sky. Reds fans filing in to catch their Saturday game. The Ohio River rushes underneath as we head south into Kentucky. Every hour, at least, he’ll bring his hand to my knee and rest it there for a minute before putting it back on the handle bar. We both have full face helmets on so we can’t talk. We communicate instead with touch only. My hands on his back, his hand on my knee. My breath on his neck.
I don’t look down. I learned that lesson the first time we rode. Out of curiosity I glanced directly down to the concrete beneath us. There was no way to focus I was overcome with the reality of it all. We were on a motorcycle rushing forward at 60 miles an hour and there were cars and pavement, exhaust and semi-trucks– all of them brutally close– surrounding us. After my first long ride I jumped off and could barely stand. My face felt like it had been stuck in a wind tunnel for an hour, my head like it had been in a vice and my body ached.

“I don’t get it,” I said. “It’s awesome, for sure, but it’s kind of boring. I’m just sitting there, trying not fight the wind and keep the hair out of my mouth.”

“Yeah,” he said matter-of-factly, “You’re the kind of woman who needs her own bike.”

“Really?” I was shocked at this statement. I had never, in my wildest dreams, ever imagined driving a motorcycle.

“Yep. Definitely.”

Ever since I have to admit, I’ve been pondering the possibility. But for now, being on the back will have to do. Since that first long ride I have become accustomed to the bike. More so, I even crave rides. I accepted the bike long ago when he asked me not to make him choose, “between you and the bike. I’ll choose you, but don’t ask me.”

One thing we promised to each other when we met was to never ask the other to change, whether intentionally or inadvertently. I immediately dropped the notion of him ever not riding and then forced him to buy and wear a full face helmet as a compromise. I bought myself one as well. Also to ease my anxiety we looked up statistics on motorcycle deaths and they’re actually very rare (.07%) and most involve alcohol, speeding, or driving at night. I can only hope that his wheels are always down because his motorcycle is a part of who he is. And I get it. I do. It is fun, tremendous in fact. Riding a motorcycle is like riding a bike with a jet pack underneath and my inner child loves it.

On the way home from Louisville we took the back roads instead of the highway.

I took these pictures during the trip.

Before we left, trying on my new helmet. A Nolan N90. It’s bad ass and comfortable.

My view from the back of his bike.

The coolest yard art. Ever.

Louisville.

On our way into a blues bar. We had all intentions of going to the Forecastle music festival but bailed after a long day of riding.

Scary. Coal burning power plants along the Ohio River.

The ride was a test to see how I would do for four hours on the bike. The four hour ride turned into eight hours thanks to pop up storms and us taking our sweet time on the back roads. In the end, the bike won and I lost, the back seat is too uncomfortable for long rides. So, I will be staying home next week when Seth leaves for Yellowstone National Park with his brother Ben. He’ll be riding there and back in 10 days.

And I will be home with my little Mr. Benjamin. And maybe, just maybe – if I can find the time and the courage – taking some motorcycle lessons.

 xoxo – Alaina

 Scroll to top