Most motorcycle rides usually start with a pre-ride check. Depending on how anal the rider is, this can be anything from a thorough inspection to merely a squeeze of the tires to make sure they have air in them. But this past Sunday, ride preparations involved slicing fruit and making a quiche from scratch! Now I make a mean quiche, but how did these strange bedfellows come together? Well, as is often the case when things get a little weird, this all started from a desire to try to please the fairer sex.
Listen up men, because I am about to give you one of the most important life lessons you are likely to hear…Men and Women are NOT the same! I know some men think that women are like men but with different ‘bits’…they are not. Women are different in ways that we men will never comprehend, and the best we can do is try to keep up with their likes, dislikes and strange social mores. Pretending to listen is an excellent way to keep your woman happy, but this takes years of study to truly master. In fact, I am pretty sure that full mastery ends with shaving your head and ritually branding dragon shapes onto your forearms using a cauldron of hot coals. Those able to master these dark arts are rewarded with copious amounts of action…or so legend has it.
Now that we have that important life lesson out-of-the-way, I’ll get back to the story. Some time ago one of Joanne’s friends said that she had always wanted to go for a ride on the back of a motorcycle. I suspect she hoped Joanne would drive but, since Joanne is not a confident enough rider to do that, I volunteered my services.
Here’s another important fact about women – they talk to each other (sic) and will actively seek out opportunities to do so. In fact I am told that if women don’t use up their daily quota of words then they will, quite literally, explode! Men, on the other hand, need either beer or technology to lubricate the conversation. For example, it is OK to text a question to your friend, or to mumble your question drunkenly into a beer bottle, but you can’t just ask a man something outright…even if they are sitting next to you.
Joanne mentioned her friend’s request to some other ladies and, before you knew it, we had eleven women, ranging in age from thirties to eighties, lined up for rides! This made coordinating things very difficult, because even a short ride would mean several hours between the first and last person. In order to keep things civilized, I came up with the idea of having a nice Sunday brunch so that, while waiting their turns, the women could talk and eat – tasks they are well designed (through millenia of evolution) to handle.
Now when I said “brunch”, I had in mind a box of Joe and some bagels/donuts. But this was to be a women’s brunch, and so preparations needed to start several days in advance. By the time the guests arrived, “brunch” consisted of two kinds of coffee, a variety of bagels, freshly baked quiche, fresh fruit salad, pasta, salmon, cream cheese, grapes, fruit juices, wine coolers, mimosas, muffins, croissants, cheese, crackers, flowers on the table…well, I’m sure you get the picture.
I had provided two route options – a quick ride around the block, or a longer ride that took in a few twistier roads and a short blast on the highway. Joanne and Sarah dressed each guest in a leather motorcycle jacket, a do-rag (to keep their hair looking nice), gloves, and a full faced helmet. All riders also then received the obligatory tattoo from Sarah before they were allowed to climb aboard.
It was interesting to see how different these eight women (three dropped out at the last-minute) behaved on the back. Most of them started out very nervous and holding on tight but, after a short while, started to relax and enjoy the ride. I won’t name any names here but there were several notable passengers: Ms. Fidget didn’t stop moving around and, despite being rather petite, had the bike jerking from side to side, even when traveling in a straight line on the highway. Ms. Nervous held on so tightly that I was jammed up against the tank and ended up with a cramp in my leg, and Ms. Natural felt so at home that I could have sworn she already had thousands of miles under her belt. I had told most of them that it was OK to hold onto me, but that experienced passengers held on to the bar at the back. One person held onto me and then switched to the bar about 20ft from the driveway…hmmm. You know who you are…
It isn’t easy to talk when you are moving, but anytime we stopped I would make a point of asking how they were doing. I was not surprised when Ms. Natural replied enthusiastically, “I WANT ONE OF THESE!”
Back at base camp, the conversation was going hot and heavy. Had this been men, they would have been texting each other on things like how far over they leaned, speeds attained, commenting on the acceleration etc. But the women would greet each returnee with a loud cheer and then get down the business of discussing schools, teachers, food, weight, exercise classes, etc. Huh? These women have just had their first experience on the back of a machine with the power to weight ratio of a Ferrari, and with nothing but a layer of leather between them and the elements and…nothing!
Since I was riding most of the time I had to get my information third hand from Joanne, and it was like pulling teeth! However, after some verbal waterboarding, I finally managed
to eek out that most women felt as though they were going to fall over going around the turns, and that those who went on the highway found that the most exhilarating part. Personally, I find highways dull, and use them as little as possible, but I guess it was the only place where we saw any real speed. I did hear that Ms. Natural was frustrated by the traffic, and wanted me to overtake – clearly someone born to ride, since motorcycles are the perfect overtaking vehicle. (Maybe I’ll lend her my copy of The Perfect Vehicle?)
A couple of emails arrived after the event, thanking us and including a couple of classic quotes including:
“Wearing all of the gear really added to the reality of the ride!”, and
“I will never look at Rt. 208 the same way again!”…the interesting part here is that I have no idea if that is a good or a bad thing…hmmm…
I also received a very nice thank you note from our octogenarian saying that it was a “thrilling ride of a lifetime” which arrived on some pink, monogrammed, paper…most unmanly…but welcome nonetheless. I hope I’m still up for new experiences when I reach my golden years.
In all, it turned out to be a very fun event. I think most of the women enjoyed themselves and managed to check another item off of the bucket list. As for me, I’m going to send some text messages to see who is interested in joining me for a twenty year apprenticeship at a mountain retreat to learn why women cry so easily.
And if there are any other people out there that want to check this activity off of your own bucket list…text me!