Reason #605 why I love my wife:
About ten years ago, when I was about to become a father, and frickin’ terrified –
of change, of losing my freedom, of being shoved into maturity – my wife performed the most selfless act of love I could imagine. She let me buy my Harley.
We had talked about it for years, and I had done my dream bike research a hundred times over. I knew which model (Low Rider) and each accessory I “needed,” from the ‘Live To Ride’ logo on the back of the removable sissy bar to the hidden wires inside my Street Slammer handle bars.
I ordered my bike, and six weeks after our son was born, I rode it home.
My two new babies.
I knew I wouldn’t be taking thousand mile trips anytime soon, but I loved my short little rides around town. My favorite ride was to go buy diapers. I would scoot over to the market, buy a huge pack of those bad boys, bungee ‘em onto the passenger seat, and get big smiles from drivers all the way home.
My favorite ride now is to my son’s baseball games. Pulling into that parking lot, ten years of HOG patches down the back of my vest, I’m the coolest dad around. The other dads nod, the moms smile, and it’s all because my wife wanted to make me happy, and because she drove to the game in our car with our boy and all his gear. That kid loves to watch me ride from his spot in the back seat.
And I can’t wait until he’s big enough for me to pick him up from school on it. How cool will he be then?
But my wife and I had to agree on several issues beforehand, the most important of which was safety. I took a riding safety class, and discovered that for me, enjoying the ride means feeling safe. I’m a knucklehead, no doubt, but I’m not stupid. And the riders I roll with are the same. We know the guidelines and we follow them. Safety equals comfort, equals fun.
I have to admit that I do enjoy the occasional bit of gravel stinging my fist. It reminds me that I’m connected to the road. But that’s all the exhilaration I need; that and watching my son hit a solid line drive over the second baseman’s head.
The University of New England Journal of Population Health stated in 2008 that 92% of motorcycle accidents involve riders who are self-taught, or taught by family or a friend.1 And when I took my class, I learned that most accidents occur within 5 miles and 5 minutes of the start of your ride. You’re on familiar roads, maybe not paying close attention. Maybe there’s a problem with your bike that you don’t know about yet.
So I’m careful in my neighborhood. I check the bike before I head out. And I take both my babies in for their regular checkups – my son and my bike. It’s the responsible thing to do, and it makes being a dad, and being a rider, fun, knowing I’m doing everything I can do because I care.
My wife knew that being a father would come naturally to me, and she was right. My kid is the best thing that ever happened to me. And if you’re considering fatherhood, it’ll be the best thing that ever happened to you, too. If you’re nervous about it, good. It means you care. It’ll come naturally to you.
But what about that beautiful bike of yours? Talk to the mom-to-be. If she loves you, she’ll listen, and you’ll make your decision together. And if you haven’t taken a Rider’s Edge class, take it. That woman of yours already knows you’re a knucklehead. Prove to her you’re not stupid.
Some of my rider friends did have to give up their bikes when they became dads. They, or their wives, just couldn’t stomach the thought of the risk associated with riding. I count myself lucky in many ways to have the partner I do. But most of my riding buddies are dads, too. We found a way to work it out.
And knowing I’m in the top tier of safe riders, riders vastly less likely to be involved in an accident, or injured if an accident occurs, because I learned formally, allows me to enjoy the ride. It allows my wife to relax when I’m out on the road, getting a bit of throttle therapy. It reminds me of what is at this point in my life as important as the journey – coming home to my family, to be the dad my son needs, and so I can keep on riding.