How it All Started

Basically, I blame Masukomi. Her, and this bike:

2005 Kawasaki Ninja 250

2005 Kawasaki Ninja 250

In the spring of 2009, we were heading up to a friend’s house and we were waiting for the bus to show up. We got there about 10 minutes before the bus was supposed to arrive, and waited for 40 minutes – until 30 minutes after the bus was supposed to have left. No bus.

Masukomi had recently bought herself a zippy little Honda Metro scooter, and it was a lovely spring day – sunny and perfect for riding. She suggested that we ride up to said friend’s house – forget the bus – she’d ride her Ninja and I could take the Metro.

I’d never ridden a motorcycle or a scooter before, but I was game. I’ve seen scooters zipping around Boston (if you live in a city, who hasn’t?) and thought it couldn’t be that hard. And it sure beat waiting for a bus that might or might not show up. And I’ll admit to a secret longing to power along under my own steam on a two-wheeled vehicle.

So we headed over to her house, where she proceeded to dig through her closet to try to find me a decent protective jacket with armor that might fit me. This was an entertaining task. Masukomi is tall and thin. I’m average height, more or less, but I’m a big girl. Nothing in her closet would really fit me – most of it wouldn’t even fit over my shoulders. We finally found a jacket that I could squeeze into and had relatively decent range of motion, but I couldn’t actually zip it. We dubbed it good enough for me to ride a scooter across town at <30 MPH and off we went. She loaned me one of her many spare helmets, and hit the road.

Being on the scooter for the first time was a bit intimidating. It was easy to operate, but at one point Masukomi said to me “You’re gonna have to go faster than that, or we’ll never get anywhere!” Confident that I wouldn’t just fall over, we headed out.

Less than a mile away, we were crossing an intersection, I went over a bump and the Metro just sort of puttered out of power. I could give it gas, and the engine would rev, but the wheels didn’t actually turn. I got stuck in an underpass and dragged the Metro out of the way (thank goodness it was fairly lightweight, so I could maneuver it a bit) and signaled to her to come ’round. She rode the Ninja back around, we futzed with it for a bit and decided it was good and dead.

Luckily, we were right next to a Target with a bike rack, so we locked up the Metro for later and decided we’d head off to said friend’s house with Masukomi driving the Ninja, and me riding behind.

This was a completely different story. This was where the bug really caught me.

The Metro, up until it died (less than a mile, sadly) was quite zippy and relatively fun to ride, but it was really just another method of transportation, at the end of the day.

The Ninja was something else entirely.

My first thought, as we drove off, was “ZOMG! I might really fall off the back of this thing if I don’t hang onto her!” (Quite a realization, I must add – people riding motorcycles have always made it look so easy, I thought.)

My second thought was “OH, WOW. This is FUN.”

Before I knew it, we were halfway across town and I was really enjoying the ride. There were elements of fear mixed in, because it WAS my first time on a motorcycle and I didn’t feel all that comfortable without something substantial to grab onto (and I was afraid of grabbing Masukomi too tight and hampering her ability to maneuver, so I was hanging onto a strap from a bag she was wearing and a flap on her jacket) but it was, much to my surprise, FUN.

Then we took a turn. Masukomi had warned me that we’d have to lean into the turn – that my natural inclination would be to fight the lean and try to sit up straight because I’d feel like we were just going to go toppling over – but I didn’t feel that way at all. It was AWESOME.

I just wanted to keep leaning and turning and driving and turning. (I quite enjoyed the turn.)

It was probably that moment when I was hooked.

By the time we’d arrived at the friend’s house, I thought it was something awesome that I wouldn’t mind doing again. It’s been there, in the back of my mind, since then. Waiting. Growing. Taking root.

Since then, I’ve talked occasionally about getting a motorcycle, but everyone around me (except Masukomi) told me how crazy I was and how dangerous they were and generally made me feel like an idiot for being interested in a bike. So I went on about my daily business without really giving it more than a passing thought, and occasionally having a dream about owning a bike.

Then, in October, some stuff went down and I ended up coming to stay with Masukomi for a bit. That ‘for a bit’ has turned into a bit longer, and now I’ve sort of taken up residence with her. And her Ninja. And her Metro (still not fixed).

She’s been slowly planting more seeds in the verdant, receptive soil of my brain. She’s been sending me links to motorcycle jackets that are on sale. Reviews she’s written of products. Last fall, she took a ride around the US and I followed her blog – it looked like a LOT of fun. I envied the freedom she had in just taking the bike around the country.

Last weekend, she went to look at a Stella scooter, and ended up buying it and bringing it home. I went with her, and the guy who sold her the Stella had a REALLY sweet motorcycle up on a lift in his garage while he was working on it. It reminded me of how much I enjoyed the ride on the Ninja, and how the thought of buying a motorcycle has been in the back of my head ever since.

Incidentally, the Stella has taken up residence in our kitchen, and has been staring at me going “Loooooook. See how neat two-wheeled vehicles can be? Don’t you want one?”

Masukomi had already decided that come spring, she’d be selling her Ninja and her Metro. Now that she has the Stella, she’s even more set on this course of action. The thought of buying her Ninja has been percolating in the back of my mind ever since she started talking about selling it.

Oddly enough, last night I had a dream about the Ninja. It was a normal day, and I came into the kitchen, where Masukomi was sitting working on her laptop at the table, and I announced that I was going to buy her bike. I asked if she’d be willing to make some sort of payment arrangements with me, and we discussed the details, and I gave her $500 in earnest money. It didn’t seem like a dream at all – it was all quite real and quite normal.

I had forgotten about the dream, until I was sitting at the table this afternoon working. Masukomi sat down with her laptop at the end of the table, just like she was in the dream, and it brought it all back to me. I told her about it, and we laughed.

I think I’m serious, though.

I want to buy her bike. I’ve been trying to find ways to rationalize it in my mind (because there are about a thousand things I could do with that money, including paying down credit cards). Also, from spending time around her, I know this is just going to be the beginning of myriad bike-related expenses – getting proper gear: jacket, helmet, gloves, pants and shoes – getting the bike insured – getting health insurance for myself (because I’ve decided I won’t ride a bike if I don’t have health insurance – the potential for damage is too great) – and taking a class on motorcycles in April and getting my motorcycle license. And I know there are a thousand more expenses, as I’ve been slowly realizing that buying a motorcycle isn’t so much about buying a form of transportation – it’s a way of life.

But God help me, I want one. And there happens to be one, sitting in front of the kitchen window, hiding under a cover and a blanket of snow. But come spring, it’s going to be there in front of me, all pretty, and there will be a nice sunny day, and I’ll want to just go out and sit on it and ride off. I know it’s going to happen. There’s no doubt in my mind.

Now it’s just a matter of surrendering to the inevitable.

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