I have been writing about riding on this blog for so long it is difficult to decide whether to continue or transfer all the biking thoughts over to the MAA blog.
I decided to leave that page mainly for records and photos of rides. This one is about what is going on in my head.
I have just been catching up with some of the other blogs I follow, and noticed that there was some really good new stuff on The Texas Ramblers Pages. TR has a great country to ride in, filled with scenery and history. Australia has history too, but I suppose I have seen so much more of TR’s history represented on TV by Fess Parker, John Wayne, and Clint Eastwood. What I really envy him for though, is that he is blessed with a partner who likes to ride with him. I have to go back over 35 years, to my first brief marriage, to remember what that is like. But I am not going all angsty about it now.
Reading TR’s posts, in particular this one and the appended comments, put me in mind of a conversation while on one of the group rides with the Harley boys last year. It was when we were stopped in Nannup and the others had headed, as they sometimes do, into the pub.
I had just wandered back to where the bikes were parked, after going to a shop to buy a soft drink. Before I got the camera out and posed Eric the Chicken and his stunt double Eric Junior for photographs on everyone’s bikes, I spoke to a chap who was standing looking rather longingly at all the Harleys. He seemed a bit younger than I, perhaps in his early to mid fifties, maybe even younger. It is hard for us old codgers to tell.
He made a comment that suggested to me he might know a bit about bikes, and I asked him if he rode. “Yeah, nah. My wife won’t let me”.
This brought out the Dutch Uncle in me. I have heard this sort of remark before. It irks me. I dislike intensely the idea of having someone dictate what leisure activities I might pursue or what my mode of transport shall be. I hate the idea just as much as I dislike the assertion that a woman’s place is in the kitchen. You make a choice to ride, not apply for permission. I did not ride a bike for a time while my children were young, not because I wanted to improve the odds that I would be there for them in their developing years, but mainly because I just could not afford a bike at the time. Certainly not because some other person forbade me to.
“I understood marriage to be a partnership, not an ownerhip”. I told him. “Forgive, me , I don’t know your personal circumstances and I may be well out of line, but it seems to me that you should have some say in the matter. Have you really discussed it with her? Did your wife give a cogent and reasoned argument for her stance on motorcycles or was it just an emotional reaction?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, did she forbid you to ride because she has some deep concern for your safety, perhaps because of an accident experienced by a family member or something, some other reason that seems valid to her, or just because she does not like the idea of her husband on a bike? Is she into emotional blackmail?”
“I dunno. Just doesn’t like bikes I guess.”
Well, it seems to me that there should be an element of sharing, compromise and trust in a good marriage. Sheet, Don’t look to me for advice on marriage, I screwed mine up. Twice. But I do know one thing from losing a very close friend to cancer, and that is that when we are nearing the end, it is the things we did not do when we had the opportunity, that we really regret. That is what hurts the most. I intend to go out thinking that I gave everything I wanted to do a bloody good shot.
“I gotta keep her sweet…”
“And what great sacrifice is she prepared to make for you in return for this generous avoidance of enjoyment on your part? Talk to her. Explain that you are an adult. Get her reasons, and explain to her why they don’t apply, because I bet they won’t! If you really want to ride, tell her so, and do it. ”
I could see him thinking this one over, and I wondered if I had just put him in the dog box. He changed the subject and we talked then about where I was riding, who with, and about other places and countries I had ridden. I did my best to describe all the neat places I had been, and the good times I had enjoyed. After a while he moved on with a “Nice talking to you, man”.
“Cheers, mate, good luck.”
I wonder what happened after that?