Women’s World 07-03-19
By Myra McElhaney
After spending most of my life on the back of someone else’s bike; I got my license and bought a bike at the ripe old age of 59. When my husband died, I missed him, and I missed riding with him. One of those things I could change! Learning to ride had to be easier than finding another good husband with a bike!
At first, I just wanted to learn to ride. I didn’t know if I’d ever get a bike of my own. I just couldn’t see how it would fit into my lifestyle. After my husband passed, I’d moved to a high-rise condo in Atlanta. Not exactly where you want to ride a motorcycle!
I fell in love with a red Harley-Davidson Softail Slim. I had it delivered to a friend’s house in a small nearby town. We would coordinate our schedules; I’d drive an hour to her place then we’d ride our bikes for an hour or two and I’d drive the hour back.
As soon as she got her license, my friend was ‘riding it like she stole it’ as they say. It wasn’t so easy for me. It took a long time to get the hang of changing gears and using the clutch. I needed more time riding and practicing. It was time to bring Rosie home! She’s named Rosie after Rosie the Riveter.
A cousin who’s an experienced rider brought her home for me. Then I faced the first obstacle of having a high-rise Harley. How do you learn to ride in the city with all that traffic?
What I needed was a big parking lot for practice. With no traffic. One Sunday morning I was looking out the window while having my morning coffee and I saw it. The parking lot of the shopping center in the next block is completely empty early on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
I’m not a morning person but weekend mornings when offices are closed, stores haven’t opened yet and church services hasn’t begun, the city is quiet. Perfectly quiet. Peaceful. No traffic. Beautiful quiet morning rides. That’s where I got comfortable riding Rosie in the city!
From there I ventured out to surrounding neighborhoods. Then I found backroads to various suburbs, heading toward the mountains. There is traffic getting out of the city, but I’ve gotten more used to it now and avoid times when it’s heavy as much as possible. Even experienced bikers are usually surprised when they learn that I keep my bike in the city.
The next hurdle was how to keep her charged? A trickle charge is easy, but I park in a parking deck where there are no electrical outlets. Another obstacle to having a high-rise Harley. While my girlfriends in the suburbs simply plug their trickle charger into a socket in the garage, I’ve learned to remove my battery, bring it into my condo and plug it in there. Then I learned there’s a portable charger. I can charge it inside then use it to charge the bike.
Of course, it’s best to simply ride enough to keep the battery charged. I do that as much as possible. That means sometimes taking a short ride when it’s colder than my preferred riding weather. It sometimes means finding time in my schedule for a quick ride or at least cranking the bike before heading out of town or when I know I won’t ride for a few days.
Although I write about women who ride, I still consider myself a beginning rider. I’ve only had my license a couple of years. I take it easy and stay close to home. I love my quiet morning rides in the city. I’ve learned that you don’t have to lead a biker lifestyle—whatever that is—to enjoy riding. You can fit a motorcycle into the lifestyle you have. I love my high-rise Harley and I love riding country backroads. As for lifestyle, Rosie and I are city girls!
Myra McElhaney is a writer, speaker, and motorcycle enthusiast. You can find her book, “Building A Life You Love After Losing the Love of Your Life” on Amazon or contact the author through her website www.MyraMcElhaney.com.