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Montana Harley Cowgirl

The adventures and musings of a redneck biker chick.

An Introduction

Why do you ride?

This is a question that comes up frequently when incredulous friends and family, or even complete strangers, learn that I ride a Harley.  Women, in particular, seem awed when they see me ride up on my Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxe.  “I could never do that” is a common reaction.  The truth is, you can and you should, if you have any interest or inclination toward it. Men seem skeptical of female bikers.  Many of them like to brag about the number of miles they put on their bikes in a season.  The truth is, some of my lady biker friends and I put on ten thousand or more miles in a season.  Even though we live in Montana, some of us ride year round on the days when the weather cooperates and the roads aren’t covered in ice.

The truth is, it’s probably always been in my blood.  I just didn’t know it until about seven years ago.  You see, my grandfather moved from southern Louisiana to Montana with only what he could carry on his motorcycle.  People who knew him in his younger days tell stories of the kind of antics he managed on his bike.  Things like riding down the center line between two cars traveling in opposite directions down a two-lane road.

My dad and my uncle both had bikes while I was growing up and I remember fondly riding pillion with them on summer days.

Why did I begin to ride?

A few years back, I was living in Laurel and working in Billings, which is about a twenty mile commute, each way.  At the time I drove an SUV and gas prices were soaring close to five dollars a gallon.  I was looking for creative ways to cut costs.  Originally, I was set on buying a scooter.  I walked into the Harley dealership, which also, at the time, sold scooters, and told the sales person what I was thinking.  She smiled and humored me.  She took me to the scooters and talked about them in depth, but then she looked me straight in the face and told me that I did not want a scooter.  At first I was put off by this, but as I listened to her reasons, I began to realize that what she said made sense.  Scooters are great for in town but aren’t good for highway riding (at least the ones I was looking at).

I chewed on this for a while and eventually found a good deal on a used bike, late in the season.  My dad had a motorcycle while my sister and I were growing up, so I talked him into giving me some lessons in the local school parking lot.  I was hooked almost immediately, though my “starter bike” was maybe not the best bike for a beginner (a story for another day).

My very patient friend Jenny rode with me at no more than 65 miles per hour that whole first summer.  She never complained about it, she just continued to encourage me and let me learn.  One day, she and I went on what turned into a marathon day-trip.  At one point, I missed a turn and wound up on the overpass for the interstate with two options: “we can turn around and go back to the turn I should have taken…” “…or you can learn how to ride on the interstate.” I chose option B and it was terrifying, until it occurred to me that everybody was going the same direction as me.  That was a turning point for me.  I knew I would never want to be without a bike again.

Why am I in love with riding?

The next summer, I fell in love with a bike.  The lady who originally talked me out of buying a scooter, coaxed me into test riding a used bike from the showroom floor.  I fought it at first, but she was pretty persistent about it.

Once I rode that Softail Deluxe, I was in love.  I went in weekly and drooled over it in the show room.

One day, while I was at work, I received a call on my cell phone that went like this:

“This is Julie at Harley.  Come get your damn bike.”

I knew immediately which bike she was talking about.  “I can’t afford a new bike.  There’s no way.”

“We are going to make this happen and I don’t care what it takes.  That bike was made for you. Bring that black bike when you come.”

The next day, I traded my “starter bike” in on one that suites me much better.

The following summer Julie and another woman began an all-women’s motorcycle riding club called the Tenacious Dames.  There were seven of us at the first meeting.  There are almost 150 throughout the state of Montana as I type this.  I have never been one to have many female friends, but this group of ladies is different. There are girls I would call my sisters in five cities across the state.  The past two years, I have managed to put over ten thousand miles per year on my bike and most of them have been with ladies from this club.  My life has been forever altered. The vast majority of my closest friends are also Dames and are some of my favorite people to ride with.

Riding is my sanity.  Everything in my world can be crashing down, and if I can get out on the bike for an hour or more, I know I’ll make it.  I have learned to be cautious, but push my own limits just enough to keep learning and improving.  There are a few ladies that I get to ride with who challenge me every time we ride.  There are others who learn from me when we ride.  I think learning is important.  There isn’t anybody who is a perfect rider.  Nobody never has a bad day.  I have learned to be both self-reliant and part of a group through riding.  I have developed leadership skills that I didn’t know that I had.  I have learned to be a bit of a mechanic.  I have learned how to be more supportive and even more so, how to be receptive of support.  I was never much of a hugger, outside of my family, but I have learned to have my personal bubble invaded, though I still tease a few of my friends about being “space invaders.”

Why do I want to blog about riding?

Throughout the course of the time that I have been riding, I have learned and grown more than I ever would have without riding.  I have grown passionate about a sport that many women would never consider.  I have had many adventures, most of them with at least an element of humor.  I want to share all of this with you.  I am passionate about riding and the positive things that can come from it. I hope you will join me as I muse and meander about motorcycles, the women who ride them, and what it has meant for me.

Thank you for reading!

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Friendship

I’ve been thinking a lot about friendships. Through a variety of experiences over the past several years, I’ve realized that there are different kinds of friends. I don’t really believe there are bad friendships. Some are toxic, definitely, but as long as you come out the other side better for it, was it really bad? 

Some friends are for a reason. There were people in my past I would have done anything for. Some I made questionable choices to please. Many of these people, I naively believed would be in my life forever. I think of a few, in particular, who acted like my friend when it benefited them to do so, then bailed when I was no longer useful. I have been resentful of these slights, but I’m not anymore. Unbeknownst to them, or maybe they do know (a few will realize it from this post maybe), they did add value to my world. Each of them taught me something. Not all of it was positive, of course, but I learned something from each of them, nonetheless. A few taught me that there are people who will only be friendly until you disagree with them on something. A few taught me that history means nothing to some people. A few taught me valuable lessons about my own nature. I’m grateful for each of those friendships, and honestly, I’m not sad that some have been lost and others have diminished to the status of acquaintances. I had someone ask me if I knew a person who had been one of my friends-for-a-reason, recently, a million memories ran through my head. There had been a huge investment in this particular relationship a long time ago. I just smile and said, “I used to.” No animosity, maybe a little sadness, but a strong conviction that I’m better for both having had that friendship and for no longer having it.

Some friends are for a season in our lives. I have so many people that I used to spend time with, particularly in college, who are no longer in my life at all. These people came into my life when it was appropriate and necessary for them to be there, but disappeared from my sphere as soon as that season ended. I’m thankful for these friendships, as well. I was fortunate to find people to introduce me to experiences I wouldn’t have had otherwise. There are things (like skijoring behind a jeep in a college practice football field, for example, or being underage in Butte on St. Patrick’s Day) that I would have never done without those friends. I have no idea where any of those friends are now, nearly twenty years later, and that’s completely ok. I value those experiences and those memories. I appreciate what they brought into my life. I wonder where some of them are. I wonder if some of them managed to survive college…

Some friends are lifelong. I am fortunate to have a handful of friends that I’ve known almost all my life. As odd as it seems to me, many people don’t have lifelong friends, at least not to this extent. A few of these friendships began at the start of first grade, a few of them came along in high school, and a few others materialized in college. These friends have seen me at my best and at my worst over the years, and though I’m sure there have been times through the years when they didn’t like who I was or what I chose very much, they knew I could be better and they waited for it. Even though it isn’t every day that I get to talk to these friends, when we do talk, we pick up where we left off and it’s like we never missed a day. These are people that I know will be there for me regardless of how long its been or how far away they are geographically.

Some friends are forever friends. These friends are my tribe of weirdos. I will actively seek to spend as much time as possible with the friends in this group on a regular basis. These are the friends who get me. I don’t have to hold back or hide any part of who I am from these friends. Any time I’m feeling weird about something, I can tell people in this group, and somebody always speaks up with a resounding, “ME TOO!” I have more of these people in my life right now than I’ve ever had before, and it is amazing to know that if somebody hasn’t heard from me in a few days, they’ll check in on me. These are the friends who immediately start making a plan the minute I indicated that I needed a change. These are the friends who get why some stupid little thing can set me off and hijack my whole afternoon. These are the ones who will ride two hours to simply have lunch and a conversation because it’s been too long. These are the people I would hop on a plane (I don’t like to fly) to visit, and not feel weird crashing at their place for a week. These are my people.

Friendships are valuable, in whatever context they come into your life. The people whom I have called my friends, without exception, have left their mark on me. Some of them fall into more than one category. I’ve learned things from every one. Some of those things I never wanted to have to learn, but I’m better for having learned those things, too. I hope that each and every one of you can spot yourself here in my words. You have made me better in some way. Thank you! 

Glacier National Park Adventure

In August of 2016, thirty Tenacious Dames made an end-of-summer trip to Glacier National Park.  There were thirty of us total: twenty-six on motorcycles, two on Spyders, and two in a chase car.  On Friday night, we converged upon Great Falls from Miles City, Billings, Helena, and Bozeman.  The Great Falls chapter was gracious enough to house all of us who arrived from out of town.  We slept in campers and beds, on air mattresses and couches.  I know that nobody in the house where I stayed slept well Friday night because of the excitement for our trip.  Everybody was up early.fb_img_1483981107012

Saturday, we all met on Flag Hill to group out and hear our last minute instructions.  It was an impressive sight.  There were lots of hugs and plenty of excited chatter.  We had a few with us who didn’t have much group riding experience and some who are old pros. We were put in groups according to our city with a Road Dame (Road Captain) leading each group.  We left gaps between cities in case a car needed to pass, which wound up not making a ton of difference since, as we were leaving town some jerk in a minivan NEEDED to be around us and almost managed to get himself into a head-on collision in the process.  I was proud of the awareness that the girls riding nearest to me showed. They kept themselves, and him, out of trouble in what could have been a scary situation. I couldn’t keep from smiling as we rode the hills between Great Falls and Browning.  It was impressive to be in just about the center of this line of women on bikes.  On a big enough hill, I could just see the first bike in front of me and the last bike behind me.

fb_img_1483981159315We stopped for gas in Browning and drew quite a crowd.  While I was filling up, a young woman walked up to me with wide eyes and asked who we were, what we were doing and the like.  She said that she had no idea that there were that many women riders and that she had never seen that many all together in one place.  While we were gathering in the lot adjacent to the gas station to wait for everyone to be ready to ride again, we were approached by a Native American man who was just as impressed as the young woman had been.  He offered to sing a blessing over us for our trip.  We agreed and listened as he prayed in song for us in the Blackfoot language.

The road between Browning and Glacier Park is one of the most fun I’ve ridden so far.  There are plenty of switchbacks and some wide easy sweepers.  I was grinning from ear to ear as we rode through them, there were times when I could see the first few bikes a curve ahead and it was such a good feeling to be part of such a strong, amazing group of female riders.  On that particular road, we were riding through a lot of open range, which means there could be horses and cows on the road at any point. We were all aware of it and kept an eye out.  Around one curve, there were five or six horses standing in the barrow pit.  Standing, that is, until the first few bikes went by.  At that point, they all sort of panicked and grouped up and started dancing around.  Their eyes were wide and scared horses are kind of unpredictable.  Thankfully, they determined that it was in their best interest to remain off of the road. At one point, I was close enough to the lead bike to see a very large black cow coming running down a steep embankment toward OJ, who was riding lead.  I’m sure OJ’s eyes were huge while she decided up her best course of action, but all I could see was a big black cow.  She looked up and saw the bikes and put on the brakes.  She stood at the side of the road and watched all of us pass.

We ate lunch at St. Mary before continuing into the park.  The chase vehicle had sandwiches and other goodies in coolers for us.  We got lots of looks and a few people stopped to chat with some of us while we milled around in the store and visited as we relaxed over lunch.  One man told us that he was impressed with not only our numbers but also by the fact that we had ridden in from all over the state to ride together.  He was a rider himself and was very excited to see other riders, especially women.

After lunch, we headed into the park.  The park employees working the gate were a little overwhelmed by the sheer number of us all traveling together.  It became more apparent what a novelty we were as we moved further into the park.  We passed scenic pullouts where tourists were videoing or taking pictures.  As they heard the first few bikes go by, you could watch them turn and look.  When they realized how many of us there were, you could see a sense of awe building, but when they realized that we were all women, you could see the jaws drop open and the smiles spread over their faces.  Many of them turned their cameras or cell phones on us and took pictures or video as we went by. I have wondered often in the months since, just how many people have pictures of our group traveling through Glacier.  We stopped a few times along the way to regroup and take some pictures and each time, we drew a crowd.  People driving by hung out the windows of their cars taking pictures and video as they went by.

There is a portion of the road through Glacier where the road is cut into the side of a cliff.  I had been on it once before on a motorcycle when my dad and I rode through a few summers ago.  The view is breathtaking and the road is very high up.  It was on this stretch of road where we encountered something new.  The wind was blowing pretty hard, so we were relieved to be in along the cliff to offer us some protection.  At one point, though, the wind seemed to blow straight down the cliff face and out over the road toward the precipice. We were on the inside lane, closest to the cliff, so there was no danger of being blown over the side, but it certainly was disconcerting to feel yourself be blown away from the cliff face by the wind.

When we came out of the park, we headed for a resort in Columbia Falls where we had reserved three condos and a house for the night. The looks on the faces of the other people staying on the resort when we all came rumbling in were quite hysterical.  In fairness, this place was on a golf course and we were all on our bikes and clad in appropriate biker gear. We had been riding all day, so we were all appropriately windblown, sunburned and probably a little grungy from road dust. One older man did more than just gawk.  He and his wife and some other lady came roaring up in a golf cart.  He was all smiles and clearly excited.  He asked us all about our trip and enthusiastically shared that he was also a rider.  He then insisted that his wife take a picture of him with all of us.

The rest of the night was rather low key.  Rhoda had prepared a feast for us and brought it along with her in the chase car.  She is from the Philippines and enjoys cooking for an army, so she planned accordingly.  She made pancit, crab puffs, fried rice and lumpia. There was enough food to feed at least half again as many of us. We all ate until we were stuffed and then say around visiting until late into the evening.  It was nice to get to spend some time with some of the girls I didn’t know before the trip or didn’t know well. Eventually, we all wandered off to our respective beds and slept hard.

lumpia

The morning began with more of Rhoda’s cooking.  She prepared breakfast lumpia, which was a new flavor adventure and absolutely amazing.  Lumpia, for the record, is a Filipino egg roll and my mouth waters even thinking of it.  We ate breakfast and packed our bikes in order to be ready to head out at about 10am. A few of the girls split off from us here and had more adventures for an additional week.  Several of us expressed our jealously. We took a different route home, through the Swan Valley.  The road weaves through the forest and along a lake and a river, and is absolutely breathtaking.

We had lunch in Lincoln before saying goodbye to the Great Falls group and the Miles City group. The rest of us rode over Flesher’s Pass, which is another fun Montana road with lots or sweepers and switchbacks, and into Helena.  We left the Helena group off at home and continued on south. At Bozeman, the girls invited us to hang out a while and clean up, stretch out etc.  The last four of us declined.  Our own beds and showers were only two more hours down the road.  We hopped on the interstate and rode on home.  If memory serves, we made it home around 9pm.  440 miles on Sunday and probably right around 8 hours on the bike.

montana_flesher_pass_1Grand total for the trip was 15 hours and 900 miles, per Google Maps. This was a once in a lifetime trip, with an incredible group of ladies. For some, it was the longest ride they have made to date on their bikes. For each of us, it was a welcomed break from the everyday. Most of us made some new friends and strengthened bonds that we had built at previous events. This is and will continue to be one of my most cherished memories.

The funny thing is, I would not have known a single one of these women if it weren’t for motorcycles and the Tenacious Dames. We are incredibly different in our “real” lives and our opinions and stances on everything are all over the board.  The one common denominator for us is that we are passionate about riding.  The women I call my best friends are all riders in this group and I am thankful for each and every one of them.  I cannot wait for the next adventure.

Locomotives and Low Spots

A few summers ago, my aunt, Jan, and I decided to take a motorcycle ride to Livingston for lunch.  We were both craving a Pickle Barrel sandwich and this was during the span of time when there was no Pickle Barrel in Billings, so we set out.

It was extremely windy so we were leaning into the wind and fighting it the whole way.  We had almost reached the first exit into Big Timber when Jan reached for her blinker to indicate that we were getting off the interstate.  Just as she hit the button, the BNSF locomotive that had been traveling beside us blasted its horn.  Jan flinched so hard that she jerked her bike upright and we began to giggle.  By the time we reached the stop sign at the top of the ramp we both had tears from laughing.  We still have no idea what he was honking at out there where there aren’t any crossings. Maybe just two leathered up BABCs.

After a cold drink and a short rest, we continued on to Livingston, still chuckling about the train horn.  We had a pleasant lunch at Pickle Barrel and decided to stop at one of the gas stations to top off before we fought the wind home.  We filled up and decided to make a quick dash into the store for snacks for the ride home.  Instead of backing into the parking space, we parked nose in, which was a mistake.  I was able to back my bike out of the space, but Jan struggled and eventually backed right over a low spot with a manhole cover in the middle.  She was straining and pulling and laughing, trying to get the bike back far enough to pull forward.  An older gentleman on a BMW dual sport bike walked up from the gas pumps in all of his synthetic riding safety gear and carrying his full-face helmet under one arm.  He just stopped and stared at her in apparent disbelief.  His mouth hung open and he never said a word, never offered to help, nothing.  He simply stood and stared at her as she tried to wrestle her Harley out of this low spot.  Eventually, she was able to rock it free and back up enough to have space to turn around and we were on our way again.

The wind was still whipping and we were feeling a little beat up by the time we reached Big Timber, so we stopped again to regroup.  This time, we bought some ice cream and sat on the steps to eat it before getting back on the road.  There was a lady with a pickup parked near us.  She was moving things from the front to the back and the back to the front.  She didn’t seem to be in a hurry and kind of seemed to be waiting for someone.  We said hello, but didn’t really pay too much attention to her.  That is, until a man who was probably in his mid-twenties came tearing out of the store yelling, “We need to go! I was waiting for you in there.  I thought you were still in the bathroom, so I’m lurking outside of it.  I even stuck my head in there and yelled for you!  You jerk!  We need to get out of here before someone calls the cops on the perv sticking his head in the women’s bathroom!  Get in the truck!”

By this point we were in hysterics and the woman, who we can only assume at this point was his wife or sister, was also cracking up.  This guy was serious.  He was blushing, embarrassed and pretty upset about the whole situation.  I think it was so funny because this guy reacted in a very similar fashion to the way my uncle (Jan’s brother) behaves.

We finished our ice cream and rode on home.  It is rare that Jan and I can have a relaxing day on the bikes without some sort of shenanigans. It would be decidedly less fun without them though.

Career Day

*This story is not bike related, but several people have asked me to write about this particular topic, and since this is my blog, I can kind of do what I want.

 

The trouble began on a random spring Tuesday.  I was at work in downtown Billings (where I was not supposed to have my cell phone out) when my phone started blowing up in my desk drawer.  After about the third call in fairly rapid succession, I was a little concerned and took my phone into the bathroom to check my messages, thinking that perhaps someone had been in a wreck or something similar.  This was not, however, the case. No, in fact, my little dog had taken herself on an impromptu career day.

First she did a little excavating and moved a rather large rock and a landscape brick out of her way, I would guess this endeavor was assisted by the red Aussie that was also living at my house during this period.  Then she worked on her escape artist act and wiggled her fat little self through the newly rediscovered gap beneath the gate.  This is where my voicemail messages picked up the story.

The first message went like this: “Hi, I think your dog is out.  She is out here in my yard.  Call me back.”

So I called him back.  I asked if he could please grab my dog and just keep her in his yard until I could get there.  Nope. She stopped and did a little food critic work, eating some of the bread that he had left out for the birds before continuing on her adventure.

The second message was similar: “Hi your dog is on the loose.  Call me back.”

I called him back and once again, my dog was no longer there.  She had chased a rabbit to the edge of the fence and then trotted back to the front of the house, where she hopped her fat little self right up into the mail lady’s truck and rode off.

I was a bit irritated at this point.  My dog is a Jack Russell Terrier.  She’s rather low to the ground, so for someone to be able to read my phone number on her tag, they would have pretty much had to have a hold of her.  Nobody, however, felt the need to just hold onto her for a few minutes.

The third message was more encouraging. “Hey Devienne.  The mail lady was just here and she had your dog.  I have her in my yard.  Give me a call.”  This man is a retired mechanic and used to be a volunteer fireman with my dad, so he knows me a little.  I was so relieved when he told me that he and his wife would keep her for me until I could get there.

I raced home from work on an early extended lunch and picked up my little dog.  I then moved a cinder block and a larger rock under the gate to prevent any further Houdini ideas my little terror might dream up. That is quite enough career days for a little dog and her panicked owner.

Of Bikes and Bears

One warm Saturday in June, a group of Tenacious Dames decided to make the ride up the Beartooth Pass to Cooke City for lunch.  We met in the morning and it was decided that I would lead the group of seven women up the mountain.  Everybody was excited as it was the first time any of us had been up since the scenic byway opened for the season on Memorial Day.

If you have never had the opportunity to ride the Beartooth Pass, I would highly recommend that you put it on your bucket list. It is open every year from Memorial Day to roughly Labor Day depending upon weather, as snow storms will cause the pass to be sporadically closed even in the summer.  The views are nothing short of spectacular and the road is generally well maintained and it connects to the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway, which is perhaps my favorite place to ride.

We started from Laurel and headed up the mountain, enjoying the warm weather, the rumble of bikes, and the comradery that comes through riding together. We stopped at vista point to look out over the valley and Hellroaring Plateau on the other side, a view that never gets old, no matter how many times you stop.

The ride was peaceful and relaxing all the way across top of the world and past the turn off for the Chief Joseph Highway.  Past that point the forest closes in fairly tight to the road, and the road itself settles into a series of gentle sweepers as you descend into Cooke City.

We had maybe five or six miles to go to get to town. I looked down into my left mirror as I came out of a sweeper to the left to make sure I could still see the six bikes behind me.  I determined that I had not lost anyone and brought my eyes back to the road just in time to see a whole lot of hair and eyeballs headed my way from the right side of the road. What is that?  What IS that?  Is that a BEAR? THAT IS AN EFFING BEAR!!! All I could do at that point, as it cleared the trees near the side of the road at a dead run, on course to collide with my bike, was to twist the throttle. I made it past the bear, but at this point, it changed course and started to chase my bike.  It quickly decided that it wasn’t going to catch me and turned broadside in the road in front of the bike behind me. All I could do was watch and pray. Oh crap oh crap oh crap. Connie locked up her brakes in order to avoid colliding with what had to have been a very confused bear at this point.  She swears she was within five feet of it and that she could have counted every hair on the left side of its body.  By now the bear had decided to hell with this and took off across the road and up the hill.

We continued on our way.  Connie came tearing up beside me with wide eyes and mouthed “Holy sh*t!” before fading back to her position behind me to the right.  At lunch we all joked about who was in charge of spare underwear.  As it turns out, one of the girls missed witnessing most of the ordeal because she got something in her eye several miles prior and had been riding with only one eye open throughout.

The rest of the day was filled with an incredible scenic ride with some women that I am proud to call my friends and wind sisters.  Everyone made it home safely and with a great story to tell. Well…everyone, except Lori, who had her eyes closed while the bear played Frogger with our bikes. (Just kidding Lori!  We still love you!)

Magic Tricks and Milk Jugs

Riding a motorcycle is an adventure all unto itself, but some rides are definitely more eventful than others. Some rides are uneventful and peaceful while others are full of the unexpected.  One such ride occurred summer before last.

It started out straightforward enough.  Three of us were going to ride the loop that would take us from Laurel, through Red Lodge, through Absarokee, through Columbus and back to Laurel.  We met at the agreed upon time and made plans to have lunch in Red Lodge.  Everyone fueled up and we got headed south, with Connie in the lead.

We weren’t far out of town when we got behind a hay truck and if you have never had that pleasure on a motorcycle, avoid it. Traffic on 212 on the weekends can be a challenge, so Connie kept checking to see if we could get around and made a break for it as soon as possible and it was smooth sailing…for a while.  Connie motioned for me to pull up beside her.  She indicated that she was too hungry to wait to eat in Red Lodge so we revised our plan on the fly and agreed to stop at Jane Dough’s in Joliet. (If you have never stopped here, you are missing out and I advise that you make plans for a meal here the next time you’re through.)  Lunch was filled with laughter and talk.  Connie convinced Jan and me that we NEEDED to have dessert, though I had already eaten plenty. The pie was to-die-for and we were not sad that we ordered it.

We continued on our journey after lunch and much to our chagrin, we once again found ourselves trapped behind the damned hay truck.  Connie eventually found space to get us out front again and we continued on for a few miles.  Eventually I looked in my mirror and found that Jan was missing.  Connie and I stopped in the middle of the highway to try to wait, but it was long enough that I was concerned, so I tried to use a farm pull out to head back looking for her, but instead of gravel, this particular pull out had boulders, so I got myself and the bike stuck trying to turn around.  Jan came barreling up at this point, no worse for the wear and jumped off her bike to get mine turned around.  All this time, Connie was on her bike in the middle of the road watching for traffic.  We were back on the road for a mile or two when we encountered an empty gallon jug in the road.  Connie swerved left to go around it and it moved left.  She swerved right to avoid it and it moved right.  This played out in front of me and I began to laugh when I saw Connie shrug.  She gave up trying to avoid the jug which seemed to be playing chicken with her and she ran right over it. It exploded with a loud pop and went flying off the side of the road.

When we made it to Red Lodge, we stopped at the gas station and refilled our bikes, then Jan mentioned that she NEEDED to go to the candy store, so we headed that way.  We parked across the street and made our way toward the store.  Connie was trying to tell us about her insoles as we walked and once we found a bench she stopped and pulled off her boot to show us.  As soon as she had her boot off and the insole out, a very tall man with a goatee and gray hair walked up to us.  He was also dressed in riding gear and with his height, he was a rather imposing figure. He asked excitedly if Connie was doing a magic trick.  She responded that she was just showing off her insole.  The man, whose road name is Doc, stood on the sidewalk and chatted with us for quite some time, telling us his story. It turns out Doc has had a very interesting life. He ran away from home at thirteen and lived on the streets. He managed to finish school and eventually earn a Ph.D. and became a counselor before becoming a member of an outlaw motorcycle club. You can read about it all in a book by Kedric Cecil, called “Wisdom from the Streets” which is available from Amazon. Eventually we all parted ways and Doc strode off down the street, and Jan, Connie and I continued on toward the candy store.

Red Lodge has a great old fashioned candy store with baskets and barrels of “penny” candy.  We wandered the store and filled paper bags with our favorites, amid laughter and teasing.  Once we had filled our bags sufficiently, we headed for the cash register.  Ironically, Jan, who NEEDED to go to the candy store, did not even have a bag of candy to purchase.  Connie made her purchase without incident, but we were all still laughing about her magic trick, to which the young man behind the register seemed puzzled and slightly annoyed.  I stepped up to pay for my bag and handed the kid my card.  He looked at it and asked for my ID.  At this point Connie wheeled around and exclaimed, “What the hell are you buying?!” By the look on the cashier’s face, he was less than amused with us, but we were laughing hysterically.  He handed my card and ID back to me saying, “Thank you for stopping in today.” The “please don’t hurry back,” was implied. We laughed and giggled all the way back to our bikes about the way our day was progressing.

Once at our bikes, we looked at the time.  Even with the long summer days, we were running out of daylight rapidly.  We discussed and decided that we had better head straight back up 212 and home, rather than finishing out loop which added another hour and a half or so to the ride.

Even with all of our mishaps, this is one of the most fun days I’ve had on the bike.  We only rode about 100 miles total that day, when all was said and done, but we laughed until we cried, relaxed and enjoyed each other’s company immensely.  That’s what it’s about, after all. To this day, Doc will seek us out to ride with us if he sees us on a ride or poker run.  So many new and lasting friendships are forged and strengthened over bikes.

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