66 degrees outside and beautiful. A MudBabe Monday-but I wasn't headed for an early loop at the park--another plan was in place and I was a little terrified.
"Sophia, you're squeezing really hard-are you just holding on or are you nervous?"
"Just holding on." I lied. You see, I was perched on the back of a sleek, red Ducati for the first time. Well sort of. The performance motorcycle isn't really built for two. See that aerodynamic fender type thing behind the driver's seat, about 6 inches up-- that was where my rump was supposed to plant. But as a short woman with a short ratio waist to shoulder, I had no chance.
I kept slipping into the driver's well, where my friend Seroj, a motorcycle junkie was expertly steering my petrified self.
"You can't be nervous."
"This back seat isn't worth shit." I said as I tried to scootch back up on my perch.
"I know- just give me the thumbs up if you want to go faster and thumbs down for slower."
I really don't scare easily. I run far. 100 miles through the night... but... the surge of going from 0 to 55 in a matter of seconds made me start to pray. Well, sort of. It was more a list of things I was thankful for and maybe an amend or two, and perhaps a request that if we were to crash, I wouldn't be rendered incapable of either running or playing the violin.
I breathed out and started to listen to the low and staedy sound of the bike. So unlike the whiny motocycles that used to speed past my parent's home in Iowa, and began to enjoy the moment. Low turns on the clover leaf (with very few other cars to make me nervous) were exhilarating and powerful.
A trip down Shawnee Mission Parkway got some admiring nods and smiles from folks trapped in cars on this beautiful day. I felt cool.
We rolled up to a little spot at Shawnee Mission Park, I actually have never been to. I guess we were going to have a kumbaya moment. I checked my watch, as I couldn't really make an entrance at Mudbabe Mondays if I was late. But the day was beautiful and we are young, so I don't mention the time. Instead, I ask Seroj about the sound of the bike.
"Was that a Ducati I heard?"
We'd walked down a path to the water where an older man with few teeth was sitting on a 55 year old Harley.
I must admit, I know very little beyond the Harley stores and Sturgis when it comes to motorcyles. I know there are people who ride these things called "crotch rockets," and that the Harley people feel superior. At this moment, I begin to learn that there is a step above both of those, and it is a Ducati.
As we went back up the hill to finish the ride, a father and his kids gathered at the curb to watch us drive off. Eyes wide and smiling. I made a joke about my perch, mounted, and despite trying really hard to stay up there, promptly slipped down as we headed off to my run. Humility and laughing at yourself is such an important aspect in life- and I was blissfully happy.
Although I was late for a grand entrance at the run, I felt like royalty on that bike, only cooler.
However, do I think I'm a step above the rest for being on the bike? Not at all--since I couldn't even stay on the seat. A position, that no doubt left my escort quite uncomfortable as his gentleman parts were pressed against the very hot gas tank.
In life, it is the unexpected that makes it interesting. I did expect to be scared. I also expeted to regroup, after all that is what I do everytime I race. I didn't expect the admiration. Let's face it, the Wharton's (my family) are obviously not fans of motorcycles. But they are fans of talent and quality. So I found myself feeling unexpectedly comfortable and at home, as I rode on a premier piece of machinery under the expert care of my friend.
7 years ago