My friends Dick and Jane motored over from Havre on their motorcycles. Jane had recently traded her old machine, which was quite nice and not old at all, for the spiffiest looking new bike. It is a stunning shade of red. Jane said wherever she goes, men drool over it. I have known Dick and Jane for years. Dick and I went to Harlem schools together, rode the same school bus. Then he and I lost track of one another. Since we got back in touch, he has become one of my best friends. I heard great things about Jane long before I met her. I knew I’d like her. Dick is a veteran biker from way back. When Jane got together with Dick, she took to motorcycles like a pro. Jane was instant biker babe.
A few years ago I came to grips with the fact that if ever I were to get a cycle, it would have to be a three-wheeler, a tri-cycle. Whenever I would meet a tri-bike on the road, I would wave enthusiastically if maybe a bit enviously. But when I went looking and saw the sticker price, I put my dream way up in back on the top shelf. Watching Jane standing next to her new red bike adjusting her jacket and gloves, my dormant dream re-awakened and caused me to pull it out of storage and dust it off.
I was telling another friend, Kathy, about Jane’s new bike. Kathy lives in British Columbia. She and her husband Richard rode their BMW cycles cross-country to visit me a couple years ago. They got to meet Dick and Jane and talk bike talk. Kathy had all kinds of questions for me about Jane’s bike, like, “What kind is it?”
“Red,” I answered. “But not ordinary red. It is the most beautiful red I’ve ever seen. It shimmers with red. Jane’s bike has given me a bad case of motorcycle lust.”
“I put my bike up for sale,” Kathy said. “But if you get your three-wheeler, I’ll have to keep my bike so we can tour the country together.”
“Don’t hold your breath,” I told her. “I can’t afford a bike today. But who knows about tomorrow. I am surprised how strongly I feel about what I thought was a long-gone dream.”
Kathy and I have traveled together for years. We like to drive the blue highways, poke our noses into out-of-the-way places, stop to see the mystery vortex house, buy lemonade from kids at road-side stands, find mom and pop cafés for breakfast, turn down unmarked side roads, check out yard sales, begin each day with no agenda and no idea where we will spend the night. We search out the adventure of the moment.
When I get my tri-cycle, I picture me and my friends tooling down the highway to Sturgis, S.D., to mingle with bikers from all over the country. Dick and Jane will lead the pack. They’ve made the trip many times. Richard and Kathy will zoom along next in line. I will bring up the rear on my nifty yellow three-wheeled motorcycle. Yes, I definitely can see it, daffodil yellow. In our meandering pace it probably will take a week to get to Sturgis and then two weeks to get back home, sun burns, crazy T-shirts, tacky souvenirs and all. There is a lot of country to see and nobody to tell us we have to go straight there and straight back.
Oh, the sights we shall see. Oh, the people we shall meet. I’d better begin shopping for my leathers. Do they all come in black? Black is not my best color. I’m visualizing rusty-reddish-brown. I’ll probably have to stitch up my own leathers. I’ll need kerchiefs. Definitely a Harley kerchief. Boots. Saddlebags and such. A discrete tattoo. I wonder if I might need a trailer.
(Sondra Ashton graduated from Harlem High in 1963 and left for good. She finds, after returning, things now look a bit different. Join her in a discussion of her column at http://montanatumbleweed.blogspot.com.)