Hell’s Bells, Part I (or, Highway to Hell on a Harley)

I am a late-comer to motorcycles. If Hunky Hubby had his way, I’d have had this epiphany many years ago.  I was perfectly happy zooming around in whatever sports car was in the stable. In fact, I was deliriously  happy with the current sports car, a zippy  convertible German that I refer to as “the Meteor.” I rationalized that I didn’t need a motorcycle when I could ride around in my go-fast machine and not have to wear a helmet. Winning!

HH, on the other hand, has been experiencing increasing hankerings for a bike. The motorized kind. He’d had a couple of Gold Wings in his past, and the urge to feel the wind in his hair was getting stronger. He needed to succumb to his urge while he still had hair. 🙂 HH has been perusing the interwebz in search of a bike. In late December, he found one.

He and I were doing weekend errands one day in late December, armed with our neighbor’s trailer. Bill’s (HH’s) mission was to end up at a local Harley dealer and bring home a used Ultra Classic. He’d seen it online…the last stop of our day was to be the Quantico Harley-Davidson dealership to load the used bike up and take it home.

Funny how things don’t always work out the way you plan.

As Hunky Hubby and I were following our new best friend and H-D Sales Dude Extraordinaire, Tommy, into the back to see the used cycle, I was distracted. Distracted by the showroom full of pretty, shiny, brand new Harleys. And, there, right in our glide path, was an ORANGE (ish) bike. HH is a rabid Tennessee Vols fan…orange is his thing. Not to be dissuaded, Bill dismissed my attempts to show him this treasure. I was hopping up and down, pulling on his shirt sleeve and shrieking “Ooo, ooo, look at this one!”

A man on a mission is difficult to distract. Tommy took us into the back room where the used bike resided. Bill had the money in his checking account, and he was ready to buy that bike. We looked it over (I use the term “we”  with some license, since I had no idea what I was looking at), and asked Tommy to give us the history. You know, most cars are pretty to me. I’m a car freak. Most bikes are pretty to bike freaks. This one, though, may have made its own mom cringe. It needed love. And lots of it. I had visions of the love of my life, HH, riding it to work only to have a crucial part fall off of it at speed.  I couldn’t let him settle for this – he wanted a bike, not a project!

So, I looked at Bill and said, “Don’t be so quick with the checkbook, Mister. We don’t have car payments, you have wanted a bike for years, let’s go look at the new ones.” He looked at me as if I’d just sprouted antennae, but he’s a smart man. He’s not going to argue with that kind of logic, even as surprised as he was that I uttered those words.

Back into the showroom we went. Upon closer inspection, the 2014 Ultra Limited,  in Amber Whiskey, was da bomb. It was better than da bomb – it was glorious. It crouched there on the sales floor, placed just-so as to take advantage of the illumination of several bright lights, shining as if it were a precious gem. Hell, it basically screamed “you know you want me.” To me, even – I can only imagine what it screamed to Bill. As the person in this family in charge of worrying, I was taken in by the safety features. A brand new sparkly would certainly be safer than a very used, and not too lovingly maintained, bike. See – I can rationalize anything.

Speaking of rationalizing…the force of the showroom full of gleaming metal was too much for me to resist. Before I knew what I was saying (and therefore blowing any chance of keeping my yap shut), I blurted “Oh, honey! Which one should I get?” This mid-life crisis is bad. I could see Mom Broad smiling at me from heaven – it is from her, and her father, that I get this obsession about things that go fast. Until now, I’d restricted my impulses to cars. That was about to change.

I’ll spare you the remaining details, but suffice it to say that we did not take home a used Harley on the trailer that night. Nope – we had two brand new bikes delivered the next day. I could not resist the siren’s call of the Big Blue Pearl.

And then it happened. Buyer’s remorse settled in. This is a common occurrence for me. What in the name of hell had I done? I can’t even ride a motorcycle, and now there was a speed demon in the garage, with my name on it. Since we were in the throes of a ridiculously cold winter, I couldn’t even take the Motorcycle Safety course for a few months. Bill offered to take me, with my Big Blue Pearl, to a local parking lot to learn how to ride. I declined his offer. I had visions of dropping the bike and then vowing never to get on it again. I needed the course, I reasoned. I’ll just wait.

Bill, however, could not wait. He was so happy – really, a joy to see. One weekend in January, he suggested that we go for a ride. On his bike. I’m a gamer…sure. Sounds like fun. The day was sunny and clear – a little cool, but that’s why leathers were invented. HH was tickled that I agreed to a wee excursion, and off he went to ready the bike.

Readying me was another matter altogether. Holy crap – how much time does it take to get dressed and ready to ride a motorcycle? Longer, in my case, than getting a gaggle of toddlers out the door. How does one wear chaps? What are the buckles for and why don’t they work? Gloves should be off when donning cold weather biker attire. No, wait, I forgot to put on heavy socks, so off come the gloves, off come the chaps, and there goes my patience.

I got mostly dressed, then went outside because Bill was bellowing at me and pointing at his watch. Times a’wasting, wench. One of the niftiest features of HH’s Harley is a sound system. I wandered outside (hopped, really, as I was trying to juggle my helmet, doo rag, sunglasses and gloves in one hand, while trying to pull on my boots) to discover that Bill had readied his ride. To make me happy, he had music that I’d like loaded – and blasting loudly.

The first tune playing as I scuttled down the driveway was “Hell’s Bells.” Yes, I was also muttering that under my breath. I was swearing up a blue streak – treating Bill to my opinions about motorcycles and the difficulty in preparing oneself; opining, even,  that maybe it just wasn’t worth the effort and I should stay home. All the while, AC/DC was giving me my new theme song. Once I finished dressing (am I the only person who wrestled futilely with a helmet the first time?), I had to get ON the damn contraption. All the while grousing loudly. Don’t get me started on the tribulations of trying to plug in my communications cord, while wearing gloves, on a moving motorcycle. Our neighbors all probably remember that day – when my snarling drowned out the throaty roar of a Harley.

Our first ride (and maybe last!) as husband and wife took us to on some lovely backroads through Northern Virginia. I was okay with that…until HH went onto the bloody INTERSTATE! Egads. I didn’t sign up for the highway to hell tour. To this day I assert that he could have avoided I-66, but he was getting back at me for my earlier antics. (Note – I’m fine with freeways now). After I groused at him (by then, he was wishing that we weren’t wired for comms) sufficiently, I settled down to enjoy the ride.

We had a great day. On a country road, I saw a deer, curled up asleep in the grass, enjoying the warmth of a sunny winter day. I saw hawks hunting for their afternoon meal. We had a nice lunch at  a cafe that will likely bar the door to us if we show up there again (divesting oneself of winter biker attire is just as troublesome as putting it on in the first place).  We laughed and enjoyed each other. When we returned home, in the gathering twilight, I saw my Big Blue Pearl beauty, waiting for me in the garage. She looked lonely.

Hell’s Bells – I’d better learn how to ride soon!

(to be continued)


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