Motorcycles were not part of my world. I had always been warned against them and anyone who rode them! In life, I had been bought up to never, I mean NEVER take an unnecessary risk. Riding a motorcycle is more than an unnecessary risk, as they say (with good reason) it makes you a temporary Australian. I was afraid. Afraid of the power, afraid of the risk, afraid of the feelings, afraid of the people, perhaps afraid of who I might really be. It was not something a girl/woman did in the world I was bought up in – yet there was always something that fascinated me about them. Now, I consider myself unbelievably fortunate in my midlife, to have met an incredible person who opened up this new, exhilarating world to me. My opinions have changed and my judgements ceased. There is an understanding and comraderie amongst riders as they tilt their heads in recognition to each other as they ride by. It is a unique world and I thought, especially for those women who have never been on a motorcycle, I would try to describe the experience I had yesterday.

 

I slide on my tight black pants, the thick padded material designed not to tear if my body is dragged across the bitumen. I zip my leather jacket, feeling the weight of the stiff armour inside, protecting my back, my shoulders and elbows. I fasten my helmet and the sounds of the world become muffled. My heart starts to pump faster. I need to pee. I always need to pee at this point as the excitement and fear become one. I strap my gloves on, securing the Velcro tight. I hear the rumble of the engine start. My body tenses and I start to quiver a little. Excitement and anticipation. I lower my visa. I wait. The stand goes up, the bike is balanced and with one arm on his shoulder, I place one black boot on the foot peg and swing my leg over to sit on the familiar seat. I place my gloved hands on the handles behind and grip tightly. I feel the rumble of the engine through every part of my body. I lean gently against the back pannier, ready for the thrust forward. We slowly take off , I catch my breath as we weave through the traffic heading to the open country roads. Thoughts and prayers start to fill my brain as I scan ahead, watching every car, every bike, every person. Any mistake, any missed reaction either by him or by someone else could result in me hitting the ground or being hit by another car. My life is in his hands or in the hands of the Gods. Slowly the traffic thins as we climb up the mountain. Now, there is no-one, just the open road. I breathe, my body relaxes. The bike speeds up, our bodies in sync, we lean into winding roads. The world speeds by as I am cocooned inside my helmet, every sense alive. The fear has subsided as my thoughts start to clarify and as if for the first time I experience the world around me. I feel the sun warming my body, I hear the wind rushing past my helmet, I see the mountains, the sea and the vast expanse of the sky. I am little, I am insignificant, I am the girl on the back of the motorcycle.   My cheeks are aching from the smile that has not left my face. I am free.

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We race on, over mountains until we come to dairy country. We slow, stuck behind a farmers ute plodding along. I take the time to stretch my hands and realize how tightly they had been gripping the handles behind. I lift my visa as we won’t be passing for awhile and the rich scent of the surrounding dairy farms hit me. I feel his hand grip my leg, squeezing it affectionately, knowingly. No words need to be spoken. Visa down, the road is clear and the bike accelerates and with it my heart. Relaxed now, thoughts fly through my brain as we lean and wind up the mountains again. The tarmac is close, nearly scraping our foot pegs. One slip, one slide and we will hit the guard rail or be thrown over the edge. We pass the white crosses, with fake flowers adorning them where others fate have been met. The adrenelin pumps through my body. I’m not afraid now, the pleasure is too intense. My heart and mind are at peace. Songs and music fill my soul as together we lean into the corners, conquering the mountain climb. I realize I am singing aloud and the sound of my voice echoes inside my helmet. If I died, the world would go on. If I died, my children would be ok. If I died right here, right now, I would die happy, content, satisfied and exhilarated. If I died at least I had experienced this. If I died, I had finally lived.

 

We reach the top and the expanse of the world opens up again, I catch my breath at the beauty of the world. The beauty of life. We have arrived at our destination and drive through the small town where we will be stopping. Bi-standers turn to look as they hear the powerful rumbling engine approaching. Some smile in acknowledgement, others stare in judgment. We stop, the vibrations cease as the engine is switched off. I swing my leg over the bike to dismount, my legs are quivering. I take off my helmet, shake out my hair and the cool fresh air fills my lungs. My eyes are sparkling, my smile is real, my chest is pumping, my soul is peaceful. I feel beautiful, I feel sexy, I feel like this is the person I was meant to be – this is who I am. I have overcome fear and now, I am truly alive.

Others look on, they do not know what I feel, they do not know the freedom I have found, all they see is the girl on the back of the motorcycle.