In college, Mike had a motorcycle and we'd ride it often. To dinner, around town on Sunday afternoons, and occasionally we'd take it out for the weekend and ride it around Texas, sometimes stopping to camp for the night. While I often complain about this state and all it's far-right politics and absolutely horrible weather, I still love it in very big ways and one cause of that love is seeing it from the back of a bike. It's something else, this big, sprawling state of ours. I loved those rides so much.
Mike still rides, although almost exclusively on the track these days. He races in an amateur circuit around Oklahoma and Texas--which is much safer than you're thinking, closed and controlled environment--and those Sunday afternoons of riding around our college town are behind us. They have to be, for the most part. We've grown up, we have a son, we can't afford multiple bikes, or an extra vehicle on our insurance plan. Mike also felt like while he was becoming a more and more responsible rider, the drivers around him were becoming less and less so. Texting, talking on the phone, etc. All things motorcyclists don't do. All things that can obviously still affect them.
All that said, it had been five years since I was on a bike and I thought it was time for me to hop back on, for a low-key, keep-to-the-back-roads ride with Mike, for a just-us birthday celebration. We borrowed his mom's road bike--yep, both his parents ride--stayed close to home and avoided all freeways and roads where the speed limit was over 55.
It was kind of like riding a bike (ha). It all came back to me. I remembered how to lean into the turns, hold onto Mike in a natural way, and I started waving at other bikers just a few minutes into the ride.
One thing I had forgotten was the smell of the road. It's a little indescribable, but it's something of a mix of fresh air, engine fumes, dirt, and smoke. It hit me in an instant, that smell I used to smell so often. It sticks to your clothes and I remember when Mike used to walk into the house in college, how the smell would greet me before he would. "Where'd you ride to?" I used to ask before I even looked up.
We left without any plans for the night, so we felt lucky to stumble upon some great lakeside cabins with just one available room left. We ate dinner at the resort's marina restaurant and it was delicious--a lot of veggie options, even!--and then we curled up in bed and watched our football team try their best to give us heart attacks. (We won but just barely and after being up 27 points earlier in the game!)
We stopped for breakfast on the way back, before picking up Kyle and returning to the dishes and bills and errands. We weren't gone long, we weren't gone far, but it felt like traveling back in time a little bit, being young again, falling in love with Texas again. Falling in love with Mike again. I am always reminded when I spend any time alone with him just how much I still like him. He's a likable guy, I think, but I always am re-surprised by just how much I enjoy him, how he fits me, how it's still so fun to make him laugh.
It was a really lovely night away.
It was good to smell the road again.