I guess it’s fair to say I’m just an average girl with an above average desire to be different. I’ve never been a conformist or much of a trend follower. I tried some of the girlie things like cheerleading, modeling, and crafts, but it just wasn’t all of who I am. I loved softball, football, break dancing on refrigerator boxes, and tearing things apart to figure out how they worked. I have always been a bit of a tom-boy and most especially loved the opportunity to raise a son.
My young life was full of abuse and pain, I won’t bore you with the details but the point is I survived and I learned the hard way what it means to truly appreciate people; ALL PEOPLE. My family says I have never met a stranger. I made a point to meet every kid I could and I created countless friendships, many of which still hold strong today. I grew up on a US Navy base in Charleston, SC but unlike many military families, we never moved. I spent all the years of my schooling in one place.
Whenever my Daddy was home I’d help him any way I could to work on cars. When my Daddy was gone to serve and protect, I’d tear apart lawn mowers I’d find on the curb or piece together this bicycle with that one. I did some babysitting but mostly mowed lawns. Somehow I didn’t really gain all the knowledge I wish I had in the realm of being a gear-head, but I learned enough to be dangerous, enough to know a BS mechanic when I hear one and enough not to be afraid to ask questions. During summers as a kid I’d visit my family in Georgia and there was always some mode of motored mayhem, be it quads, dirt bikes, go-karts, or boats. My uncles all worked on cars like my Daddy so it was home away from home for the most part.
At the end of my 19th year, my son Nathan was born and life took a huge turn for me. The responsibilities of wife, mother, and full-time employee became my every waking duty. I thought I made a decent wife but I suppose that might be argued. I’m pretty certain my son would say I made a pretty darn good Mom. And I’ve got many recommendations that say I’m a great employee. It goes without saying that I strive to do my best. I strive to enjoy what I must do to survive instead of grumbling about it. And I strive to show respect and love to whomever enters my life.
It is true that these roles and responsibilities often derail one from the true person buried inside. As my son grew I taught him all that I could recall from my Daddy and tried to instill in him the acceptance of others and the openness to meet people of all walks of life. (I think he’s turned out pretty darn good if I do say so myself and a much better gear-head than I.)
There are sad parts in lots of great lives and mine is no exception. My husband at that time did not see my love for things like motorcycles, quads, fishing, tattoos and so forth. It certainly was not the downfall of the marriage, but it certainly didn’t help me be who I truly am. Towards the rocky end, a weekend trip ensued to southern Illinois. It almost seemed like a “do what you want, as long as you stay” type of ploy. As we drove through a small town, we came across a Yamaha dealer with quite a few motorcycles out front. I said I wanted to stop and look around and so we did. I saw a V-Star that somehow just spoke to me. I hadn’t been on a bike since I was a teenager, but this bike told me, “You got this.” I asked the salesman if I could take it for a test drive and I think my husband’s face nearly melted off his skull. The salesman agreed without even asking if I had an M-license. I sat on it for a minute getting the feel for the clutch and brake, pretending like I was checking it over; when in fact I was trying to make myself let go of the clutch. When the moment struck I rolled off the lot as smooth as silk (through gravel nonetheless) and took a ride for the longest 3-4 minutes of my life. Those minutes and that V-Star changed my life forever…
The feeling in my heart and in my stomach told me that I had always been somebody else and that I buried that person long ago. My rotting corpse jumped out of the grave and onto that road with such force that my heartbeat was drowning out the exhaust. It was all I could do not to keep driving, but of course I couldn’t do that; I had responsibilities (and a desire not to go to jail).
I returned the V-Star, thanked the salesman profusely, and left knowing that I would never let anybody else dictate my life. I was in the driver seat of my destiny and be damned if I’d sit in the back again. Not a few miles down from the dealer in that small little town, I got my first tattoo. Insignificant one might say, but quite significant to my being since I was told I “could not”. The marriage was not saved on that trip, but my life certainly was.
Later the following summer my son and I were on a business trip together that we turned into a mother/son vacation. Upon our return his father had bought him a dirt bike. Without doubt he wanted to jump on it and go right then and there. Even though no helmet was purchased and it was nearing dark, I dropped the luggage in the garage and proceeded to teach my son how to ride. From that moment to this, my son and I have ridden together for many many miles. But not enough as of yet…
In July of 2006 I went solo with my son whom was at that time 15. Though it was a struggle, my life became more focused on who I am. My son was old enough to be busy and have a life that he was creating and exploring, so I was able to do the same. We each grew tremendously during the next couple of years. We continued to ride the snot out of his dirt bike and I began to meet folks that road motorcycles regularly. It was almost as if I had an addiction. I’d read what I could, I’d ask questions of strangers, I’d go into Conrad’s Harley Davidson and walk around for what seemed like hours. After about a year, I finally had the nerve to date a gentleman and of course he rode a Harley. After several rides I knew that I wouldn’t be on the back for long.
My son was required by law to take the safety course due to his age and so I signed up to take it with him. We had a most excellent time and although the darn kid beat me by two questions, we both passed with flying colors and I received my M-license and Nathan received his permit. Shortly thereafter, Nathan got his first motorcycle; a 1992 GSXR-750. Since he only had a permit I got to ride it quite a lot. (Giggle Giggle)
My son is now 21 and has a beautiful daughter. His young life has its share of challenges and my heart aches for him as I watch him grow and try to do the best he can. He’s always been the inspiration that made me keep moving forward, and now his daughter will be the same for him. There simply comes a time when Mom can no longer dictate what’s best, and Mom must let go.
Since 2006 I met so many wonderful people and I was blessed with many friendships where folks trusted me with their motorcycles. I drove a variety of bikes thanks to some loving and trusting people. To name a few: Anniversary Edition Night Train, a couple of Road Kings, Dyna Wide Glide, a V-Rod, V-Star and of course my son’s GSXR-750.
As it turned out, bikers loved my enthusiasm for riding, my organization and motivation of people, and my searches for rides, runs, rallies, and charitable events. There came a point when I had so many biker friends, I could hardly keep up with them and sending texts and emails with ride info would take forever. In 2011, I finally created a Facebook riding group so we could all keep up with events, services, BS, and so much more related to motorcycling. Ursula’s Local Riding Buddies began with about 40 or so bikers and within a year has grown to over 275 at the time of this blog’s creation. I guess with my latest adventure, we’ll have to change it from “local” to “nationwide” ~ oh heck, there are already a dozen or more members from other states anyway.
July 22, 2011 I finally bought my own 95 Custom Sportster. My girl has a Fat-Bob tank, she’s been lowered, has an S&S Carb, a six-color flip in the painted flames, and a few little tweaks here and there.
From purchase date until December 3, 2011, I put over 11,000 miles on my girl and that’s just in and around Illinois. I got her out of storage February 27, 2012 and created this blog in early July 2012, at this time she’s got over 7,000 miles for the season and it’s early yet. Because I work a lot at my virtual admin business and haven’t done many big trips this year I’m lacking in miles. But I ain’t stoppin’…
The B.R.O.A.D.(TM) (Babe Riding Out A Dream) – Ursula Wachowiak