Dad bought my brother and me a Kawasaki 80cc dirt bike when I was around the age of ten and my brother was eight. We had so much fun with that dirt bike. We could go anywhere, of course within limits that our parents had Okayed. Our border of limitation was one mile each way from the farm on the gravel road. If it was in the prairie trails amongst our fields it could be further. We would constantly push the limits each time we rode to extend our distance past where the border had been set.
I loved the freedom that riding motorcycle gave me – wind in your hair, smells in the air and the sense of going somewhere away from my current situation was always good for me. Riding motorcycle was common to me as a young child but during my teen years I did not do much riding because we had moved off the farm into a larger community and the dirt bike stayed at the farm.
Years past, yet I held fond memories of riding motorcycle and was always eager if the opportunity presented itself to ride with someone that had one. My boyfriend and eventual husband had a motorcycle when we first started dating. We rode it occasionally and it always brought back the childhood memories of riding on the farm.
Once we were married, purchased a house, bought a vehicle and had a little disposable income, my husband began talking to me, or should I say, trying to convince me that it was a good idea to buy a Harley Davidson motorcycle. It took some time of him tapping into my childhood memories for me to jump on the bandwagon and be fully committed to buying a brand new 1992 Harley Davidson 1200cc Sportster.
For several years before kids we road motorcycle on any free time. We put on thousands and thousands of miles and met all kinds of new friends. After being the passenger for several years and a very well seasoned back seat driver, I and my husband had enough of riding together so we made another purchase of a Harley Davidson 1993 Dyna Wideglide. The Dyna Wideglide was his and the Sportster was mine.
I hadn’t truly driven motorcycles since I was a young girl so it was suggested by other women riders to take a motorcycle safety instructional course before getting my license. It was a big commitment meeting every evening for one week for four hours each night. Yet, it was well worth all the time and effort and would definitely come in handy in my future riding.
We came to love riding whenever we had free time. Having no children we were able to get off work, quickly change clothes, warm up our bikes and go for a long ride most evenings during riding season. The rides would take us any direction. We gained so many friendships and had so many fun times. These will be memories etched in our minds for a lifetime.
There are so many riding stories but a few stand out as favorites. One of my favorite BC (before children) stories is on weekends early on Saturday another couple and us would meet at one of our houses. We’d chit chat a bit and talk about where we should go for a ride. One of the Saturday’s everyone had made a suggestion and no one was extremely excited about any of the suggestions, so one of the guys said, let’s have a little fun and flip a coin to decide where we go. One person was to flip the coin and two others were to select a direction (north, south, east, west), the two people then picked heads or tails, the coin was tossed and whom ever won, that was the direction our ride would take us for the day. Of course, nothing was planned, we just took off!
On one occasion, east was the direction that won out, we headed out early on a beautiful sunny morning. No cares in the world, simply enjoying the fresh air and beauty that was always available for us to savor. Over 300 miles away we decided to stop at a gorgeous summer lake community where one of our friend’s parents was for the weekend. After a much needed rest and relaxing time which lingered long into the late afternoon, we felt we better start heading home. With no preplanning we of course were flying by the seat of our pants, that was are MO back then. One hour into our return ride, we realized it would be well into the wee hours of the morning by the time we arrived home so we decided to try and find a hotel in the largest city in the state. After, two or three vain attempts to try and find a hotel room we were told there were many activities going on and hotels were sold out.
We had no choice but to keep riding. But, just after a short half hour of riding again and it being very dark we decided to pull in to a small town which had a mom & pop motel on the side of the road called the Shamrock Inn. They had two rooms, so we stayed and got some well deserved rest. As you can imagine by the name it was no five star motel! The two rooms were next to each other, the walls that separated us could just as well have been a bed sheet. Bare minimum and no frills, but we were all so tired we just wanted sleep.
In the morning while getting ready we both had the TV’s on and you could hear the programs we were watching. Being the no frill type of motel, they had one channel and we both had it on. It was Sunday morning and a very old cartoon was playing, can’t remember the name, and it was about riding horses and belong to a club, a Saddle Pal Club. When we all walked out of our rooms we were all laughing about our new Club we would all become members of, the Saddle Pal’s. Get it, real horses and a.k.a. motorcycles, mechanical horses.
The Christmas after our summer of coin flipping and adventure to the east and Shamrock Inn all four of us got sheriff type badges that said Saddle Pals on them. And that’s what we were for many years, Saddle Pals in the mechanical version.
Corny fun adventures were had for many years with many friends in our motorcycle riding days. As children became part of our lives we continued to ride as frequently as new parents can. Involving our son was a must since he was born at a motorcycle rally, he was an Early Arrival (see story). He loved riding in the front of his dad at a very young age during short rides. On long rides we would get our parents to watch him while we were gone.
Most every year we would take a trip to the Sturgis Bike Rally. Leaving our son was hard but we loved to ride in the Black Hills of SD and enjoyed time with our friends. Our parents were wonderful in taking care of our son and we would only be gone a few days. One of the years we went a story unfolded that will be forever etched in our lives. I refer to it as My Motorcycle Miracle.
August 1996 I was riding my Harley Davidson 1992 1200 Sportster motorcycle down Interstate 90 between Rapid City and Sturgis, SD to the Sturgis Bike Rally. The interstate was filled with all kinds of traffic; semi trucks, cars, RV’s and motorcycles. The speed limit was 75 mph, fast and furious, and scary at times because of the heavy traffic and how fast everyone goes. Weaving in and out, many people passing each other and others like us just staying in the lane and trying to take it all in and staying focused on the contour on the road.
Before leaving Rapid City, SD for the twenty-six mile ride to Sturgis, SD since it was such a hot and muggy day with temperatures close to 100 degrees I decide to take off my helmet and leather jacket to try and stay cool. I strapped them on top of my canvas bag with bungee cords which was on the backside of my Harley. Nice and snug, they wouldn’t be going anywhere. The hot breeze felt cool on my bear arms, wearing just a tank top and vest. That was the only part that was cool because we always wore jeans and riding boots.
Our group which consisted of myself, my husband, on his Harley Davidson 1993 Dyna Wide Glide, and our good friends on their Harley Davidson 1990 883 Sportser. It was their inaugural ride into Sturgis during Bike Week. As the saying goes, if I have to explain it, you’d never understand, for seeing the huge quantity of motorcycles in one place and time is indescribable. They were beyond excited to witness this event for the first time, but it wouldn’t be the only thing they would witness on that day.
All of us were cruising along in staggered format as is the custom while riding motorcycles in a group. We decided to keep a comfortable pass behind a vacationing RV. My husband led the group, I was in second position and our friends were in third position. Behind them there were several other motorcycles which are common during the entire Bike Week. My husband was typically always the leader in any groups we rode in and sometimes I didn’t like his decisions on when to pass or move as a group. I could see he was getting antsy and wanted to move a little quicker, he decided to move to the passing lane and quickly passed the RV. I had to follow because you can easily loose each other with all the traffic. I moved, in staggered position, ready to pass the RV, our friends positioned themselves in my spot and we both were ready to make the move and keep up with my husband. My attention was focused and very vigilant on the huge amount of fast moving traffic, I was now the leader of the group. Getting ready to position myself to pass, I would blink my eyes and my life was forever changed.