a tribute

It’s a beautiful, sunny spring day here in MI.  If I seem cranky, try to understand. For the past 7 years when a sunny spring weekend came along that was above 40 degrees,  I would have been out riding my motorcycle. Now there is a hole in my heart where my bike used to be.

Don’t feel bad for me. When I recall all the incredible, indescribably lovely “first” spring rides I have taken on my Joy Machine, I can only be thankful and grateful.

I thought of Tinkerbell as my Joy Machine. She was my Dark Red flecked with Sunburst Pink metallic paint, ’05 Harley Dyna Low Rider, 88 cu inch, 1450 cc engine with electronic fuel injection. She went fast and sounded even better. I can’t tell you how many young men in pickup trucks I raced from a red stoplight and left behind, a tiny vehicle, a mere spot in my mirror. (Then they would purposefully stay way behind me, too embarassed to catch up to and face the woman that just beat them.)

Try to  imagine the pure joy I felt as we glided around curves, twisted and leaned around country roads, up and down hills and across the endless terrain — the open road.

 As I smelled the outdoor fragrances of the trees and fields, soaked in the cornfields, farm yards, and grazing horses, admired the beauty of colorful flower gardens and even felt the rythyms of traffic — we danced through the landscapes. We were one with all of it. 

I didn’t just ride through it, I felt it, all of it.  I used to say, you don’t just ride down the roads, you are one with the landscape. So true. Much like, I would imagine, a bird feels as it soars and floats over the landscape. My Joy Machine and I were one and experienced it together. Can you see why I named her Tinkerbell?  We floated and glided along, light as a fairy.

Anyone except a biker may suspect my sanity, but bikers get it.

As one would mourn for a dear friend, I mourned for Tinkerbell. Still do sometimes. Just over 29,000 miles together.

Prior to Tinkerbell I owned an H-D 2003 Anniversary Edition  883 Sportster, on which I had 14, 300 miles when I traded her in for the Low Rider.  

Through the past 5 years, my travels with Tinkerbell have taken us throughout  Michigan, as far north as Gaylord, Charlevoix, and the Big Mac bridge, along the amazing stretch of road (M19) tracing Lake Michigan north of  Harbor Bay.  Many trips across the state to Muskegon and up to Traverse City and East Jordan, east to Marysville, Bad Axe, Bay City, and back to Mt. Pleasant, down to Kalamazoo, and St. Joseph.  

So many amazing trips with my biker chicks girls – The Free Spirit Chapter (FSC) — I can’t even list them all. We’ve ridden up through Madison, WI including the Wisconsin Dells, DuBuque IA, into PA, VA, OH, IL, and IN. So many beautiful miles together. Although I’m not currently “technically” a biker (because I don’t have a bike), I will remain a part of this incredibly independent, fiercely free-spirited and fun group of women. Lifetime freindships form in this club.

If I placed dots on my right palm for all the places I’ve ridden to and experienced in Michigan,  it would be quite the work of art. I think I’ll do that and take a picture of it.

Matt and I took a wonderful trip down to Louisville, KY, through Ohio and Indiana. Took in Churchhill Downs and all the lovely KY sites. Beautiful Kentucky bluegrass country. The ride home was most memorable because we rode through  drenching rain through Cincinnati, Dayton all the way up to Toledo. Finally after we crossed the MI state line — no kidding — the sun broke through the clouds. I could almost hear angels singing “Aaaaaaahhhh!” as we stopped to take off our rain gear, laughing the whole time.

And, of course the trip of a lifetime with my dear friend Sandi to Mt. Rushmore, S. Dakota. We rode west across MI, taking the ferry across to Wisconsin, then up through Madison, across Minnesota, into Sioux Falls, S. Dakota and through the Badlands Nat’l park and Buffalo Gap, on to Rapid City. Rapid City was our headquarters for 3 days, where we spent the whole day touring — Mt. Rushmore, and many other amazing American monuments including the Black Hills, Devil’s Tower and  Crazy Horse.

Sturgis (SD), Spearfish Canyon,  Deadwood, and across the Wyoming state line to Sundance,  Newcastle, Guernsey, Chugwater to Fort Collins, CO.  Across Colorado up to Nebraska, up through Missouri then Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and home.  3,776 miles and 12 days

 Memories no one can ever take away. So many laughs, crazy stories, and even tears. Each time Sandi and I talk or get together now we say, Remember on the trip when….?   Sandi was the best road trip companion ever. If you’re interested ask me to show you pictures and maps with our routes and major stopping points. Me and Tinkerbell, and Sandi and her Yamaha FJR. 

See why I thought of Tinkerbell as more than just a bike?  My joy machine, my reliable companion, may she rest in peace. So many experiences we shared, so may beautiful miles we covered together.

On Oct 20, 2009, we had our last ride together.  The day began fairly routine.  I rode to work on one of the last sunny and crisp fall mornings, knowing there would be few left before the snow would fly.

 That evening I left work later than I had wanted to.  I was a bit mad at myself because my viola lesson was that evening and I knew I wouldn’t have much practice time. Busy day, I had kept working until it was almost 6:00, then packed up my laptop to head home.

It was (and is) my habit to text Matt as I walked out to my car or bike, to let him know I was on the way home. He and I are both creatures of habit and were comfortable with that routine. This particular evening I didn’t text him, I just wanted to get on my bike and get home. 

I didn’t rush though.  I had learned early on, after making a few mistakes, not to be careless or hasty about anything on my bike.  Whether prepping or riding — take it slow and be aware. I remember loading up my saddle bags, strapping down my laptop and leaving the driveway to head west on 12 Mile.  That’s where my memory on that day stops.

Next day, I woke up in the Critical Care unit of Botsford Hospital. Matt and Collin were glad to see me wake up.  I said, “Why am I here?” Matt replied, “you were in an accident on your motorcycle, a deer hit you.”  I stammered “No kidding!  When…how….where?”

(Note:  Matt tells me that I was unable to speak, and was intubated, with oxygen, and heavily sedated, so I scribbled my communications on a pad of paper) If you are curious why I am now Titanium Chick instead of Biker Chick, please see my About page: https://tichick.wordpress.com/about/

This story will be continued, but I’m tired now. Writing is wonderful therapy, try it!


About tichick

Personal and Political Thoughts
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