Hank and Me

It has been a long time dream to ride a motorcycle. I have known others with them and often desired a ride on them, but never happened the opportunity. To me, it looked like fun and had that air of being free. Then there is the persona it gives actors of being cool and rebels. Additionally, with my being in the leather lifestyle, it brings another feeling of a true leather man. The question then is, “Which one of these reasons was the driver of my desire?” Simply put, I don’t know. It could be one or a combination of them all. Just like wanting to be inked or pierced, I can’t ever remember not having the desire to ride.

Of all motorcycles, I had the desire for a Harley Davidson (HD) V-Rod. Just the look of it was beautiful. During a training class while working at UPS, I even did an historical presentation on HD and the company evolution. That was almost ten years ago. When the possibility of me beginning to ride came about, something awoke in me. My husband bought me a motorcycle helmet from HD, but it was a year before I would use it to ride for the first time.

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I took the class in June of 2013, after studying to get my M1 licence. In Canada, the licensing is graduated; starting with an M1 for 90 days then an M2 for 18-24 months depending whether you take a safety class or not. After that is the full M license. I chose to take the class, for safety purposes and insurance discounts.

The class is all the things you would expect. Some in class preparation, then to the course. There is pushing, stopping, turn right, now left, stop, emergency stop, swerve, speed up and much more. I just remember being nervous about getting on the bike. During the beginning, when learning the basic motions, I was. By the time we were able to ride any distance on the course, I felt a connection to the vehicle unlike any other before.

I discovered that freedom wasn’t the right word to describe the feeling. It was more of a connection to the elements. Feeling the wind unencumbered by the confines of an enclosed car and the different smells on the wind that change as you drive, it all gives you a feeling of being part of the surroundings you are in. One of my favourite places in the city to ride is as I come up near Lake Ontario and begin the feel the breeze and smells off the water. Nearby, there is also a bakery factory that always makes me breath in deeply as I pass it. I think there are calories in that deep breath, it smells too good not to have them.

We were told in the class that there is an untold connection between all riders, to expect a certain recognition from other riders. I didn’t realize how wide spread and good that would feel. I would estimate, and by no means is this scientific, 90% of other bikers will either mod or wave with a low hand gesture as you pass each other. There is a feeling of being accepted and welcome.

So, did I get a HD? Not yet. I chose to go a bit less expensive on the bike and insurance in the beginning. This also was a deciding factor in engine size. I looked around and different shops and then sat on a 2007 Honda Shadow 600VLX. When I did, I knew Hank was mine. As we ride, I become more connected and aware of how he moves and reacts.

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I will someday trade up to a more powerful bike and know that will be a hard day. I understand Hank is a machine, but with this machine I began to feel more of myself. It’s like finding that partner in life (which I have) that allows you to grow and become who you were meant to be and that person is the reason I can discover this rider in me.

So, here’s to many years of safe riding. If you don’t ride, look out for motorcycles on the road. Besides the occasional sport biker, we are pretty courteous to those of you on four wheels.