I distinctly remember a conversation from my childhood when my sister declared she wanted a motorcycle one day. I wrinkled my nose at the thought, “OH GOD WHY?! That’s stupid! You’ll die!”. She just shrugged and we didn’t talk about it again. For some reason as a child I was convinced that riding a motorcycle was a near suicidal act. No sister of mine was going to do something so foolish!
Fast forward to around a year ago. Everyone is freaking out over the gas crisis and my hand-me-down Toyota 4Runner is on it’s last leg. I drive past a scooter shop and my boyfriend Sean and I start talking about the benefits of two small vehicles versus one lumbering gas guzzler.
Scooters are disarmingly cute little buggers. They just look so harmless and friendly, they beg to be sat on. I took a test ride in the back parking lot and had a permanent smile glued to my face for hours. Suddenly I understood the attraction. A few months later Sean and I had scooters of our own. My car sat parked for nearly a month until a friend asked me to pick him up at the train station. Driving my old SUV felt slow, unweildy and wasteful. I hated every second of it. I posted it on craigslist and sold it the next day.
My lovely scooter, Bella.
After a year of solely riding the scooter I have had my eyes opened to the freedoms of two wheeled travel. I became addicted to the heightened sense of awareness and being in the moment that riding gives you. In my car I felt like a zombie, but on the bike I feel so alive and rejuvenated. A woman in one of my classes once asked me “Aren’t you scared?”
I replied without thinking “No. I’m too busy having fun!”
I put about 7000 miles on the scooter that year, riding in the scooter rally to Nogales and visiting my parents up near Parker Canyon Lake. I fell in love with not only the scooter, but the whole community. We joined a scooter club for weekend rides and rode in the X-mas parade with our scooters covered in tinsel and lights.
Sean in the Christmas spirit.
I was beginning to see the limits of my little 125cc scooter though. Despite her being fast enough for anywhere around town (and fast enough to earn me a speeding ticket!), she wasn’t safe or legal for the freeway and the back roads were inefficient. I found myself in Maui over the summer, couchsurfing (If you don’t know what couchsurfing is go check it out…and stay with us if you find yourself down in Tucson!) with a guy who owned a Harley. To my surprise he not only took me for a ride on the back, but even let me steer! I was amazed at the 2-up stability of the larger bike. Immediately after the ride I had to go to the airport and fly to Honolulu. As I went through security and waited to board the plane, my heart was still pounding like mad. I just sat with my eyes closed the whole flight, reliving every moment of the ride. I knew I had it bad. I needed a motorcycle.
Riding with Tim in Maui
I lusted after every motorcycle in Honolulu, several times seriously considering asking random strangers for a ride (in the end my lack of helmet and the horrible traffic were enough to convince me otherwise). Luckily, my next stop, Kauai, I couchsurfed with a nice older man who rode a Virago. He took me out on the back all around south Kauai up to Wimea Canyon. I was again impressed at the power and stability of the larger bikes as we encountered strong winds and gravel roads.
Riding with John on Kaui
The breathtaking Wimea Canyon
You would think these rides would have me longing for a bike of the cruiser variety, but I was steered towards adventure bikes by my choice of vacation reading material. I brought with me Lois on the Loose and Red Tape, White Knuckles. Lois Pryce is an amazing lady and her treks across the Americas and Africa completely blew my mind. I’ve done my share of backpacking in Europe and some in South America and the thought of combining my love of travel with my newfound love of motorcycles was enough to make me positively giddy.
I arrived home and said to Sean “I think we should buy motorcycles”, his reply? “I was waiting for the day you’d say that!” and so began our search for dual sport bikes…