The last couple of months have been a whirlwind of unique experiences and more than once lately I’ve had to pinch myself to be sure it’s not all just a fantastic dream I’ve created to keep myself entertained, although I’m certain that even I don’t have an imagination good enough to make up this level of cool stuff.
By the time the rally wrapped up I had some down time to spend with friends in Sturgis who are good for my soul, so I hung out and just played local for a while. I met an aspiring writer there who made me realize the responsibilities that come with mentoring a creative young mind. For some reason, Willow was excited to meet me and brought along a laptop to share her stories, which humbled me. At 12 years old, Willow brought me to tears as she painted beautiful pictures with her touching words. This child will be a great writer one day if she can manage to ignore the hateful behavior of the bullies in her school, the teen angst that must be endured and the peer pressure that comes with trying to fit in long enough to get an education before striking out to conquer the world. Everything about the elegant Willow already sets her apart from the typical teen and there’s a sort of grace that makes one want to just spend time in her company. Her single father is a tattoo artist and she takes his profession with a grain of salt as she works to find her own footing. I found myself wanting to give her advice and guidance, but chose my words carefully since the weight of every one equated to a responsibility that would carry far into the future. I wanted to assure her that life is really great when you have a sense of humor and don’t wear your feelings on your sleeve, but I wasn’t sure I’m the one to say such things, though I did encourage her to continue to release those words that burn so deep in her heart. I hope to get to continue to have her in my life, and to watch from afar as she grows into the strong and confident woman I expect she’ll be.
From Sturgis the Beast and I headed to NorCal where I left him to vacation with friends while I flew out to be a judge in the “Editor’s Choice” part of a bike show at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee. I learned a lot there, mostly about what I don’t know, but I’ll be better prepared next time. I love Milwaukee and always have a great time there. It was cool to get to see friends who don’t cross paths nearly enough before I again boarded a plane to New Jersey where I got to cruise the countryside on a borrowed bike that immediately made it clear that she wanted nothing to do with me. Lucille and I didn’t make 10 miles before she shut down at a traffic light. Once I got her running again, owner Shadow traded me bikes and the rest of the day was spent cruising the narrow back roads of rural Jersey. Knowing it would be nearly a month before I’d be behind a set of handlebars again made the ride even more special.
And now, here I am in a hotel in Bloomington, Indiana, scribbling madly at 4:00 a.m. as antique motorcycles are occasionally test fired to break the predawn silence. My roommate is in a deep sleep, trying to recharge her very tapped-out batteries before we fling ourselves headlong into another day of riding and rescuing antique bikes on the Motorcycle Cannonball’s Race of the Century. Vicki Sanfelipo is the volunteer medic on the run and I am the media director. She will pilot her own bike along the route to rescue distressed riders and minister to their physical needs. I have arrived afoot and hitchhike with whoever will have me so I can shoot off the back of their bike to get a riding image of each and every one of the 90 entrants in the transcontinental run. This year I am with Joe “MacGyver” Sparrow on his half a million-mile Honda Goldwing. Joe volunteers to help the riders stay mobile and does everything from share his tools to hand out advice. He’s also been known to hold an umbrella over a rider as they wrench on their 100-plus- year-old bikes. While he does that, I man the caution flags, play traffic cop and take photos for the articles I’ll write at night. There’s little sleep and little time but lots of once-in-a-lifetime experiences each day as friendships are forged in the fabric of forever. I truly am one lucky girl.