Occasionally, I get asked why I ride the bike when it's so cold, hot, wet ETC. If the roads aren't white, I'm riding. I usually just smile and say the bike has great heat or AC, laugh and carry on. It's too long of a story to tell. Since this is a story telling forum, I thought I would share for those bored enough to read.
I started riding when I was 14 in the U.K. I had to have a way to get to my job after school , and all I could afford was an old blue and white Honda that I had to pedal up to speed and then kick the engine in.
I loved that bike and the freedom it provided.
At 17, I moved to the U.S. I owned several old, tired bikes, one of my early favorites being a 750cc Suzuki Katana that I rode for years. Once I got to the point that I could afford a Harley, I finally stopped trash-talking them and took my beating at the local dealer for a shiny new 2008 Ultra Classic - Black, of course. I dumped the next few years of paychecks into it, ending up with a 103 engine in it that went through compensators like gasoline. I upgraded to a new 2012 Ultra Limited - Black, of course, when the '08 left me stranded one too many times. The '12 took me across the country several tiimes. Vegas, Sturgis ETC.
Almost 6 years ago, at 44 years old, my health had declined to the point that the bike sat more days than it moved. My hips were shot from years of standing on concrete, moving heavy items all day as a machinist / welder. My hearing was failing me from the hammer blows on steel, the noisy machinery and the years of wind and exhaust noise, my shoulder had been rebuilt and I had permenantly torn half my left bicep off of it. My eyes were weary from being flashed by welders. I was tired. I was self medicating heavily with alcohol. I was in SO much pain.
I dragged myself to an orthopedic surgeon for evaluation. He ordered me to use a walker on that first visit, and scheduled me for both hips to be replaced. Things went downhill from there. Two surgeries turned into 4, then 6 and two years and 10 surgeries later, I was laying in a nursing home with a plastic spacer where my left metal hip used to be, on every antibiotic known to man - IVs, pills, topical... You name it. I replaced my alcohol dependancy and was now heavily addicted to pain meds, the nursing home resident doctor basically gave me whatever I wanted. Around that time I was diagnoised with a brain tumor while being scanned for a stroke that I had due to the blood clot from a botched procedure on my neck.
The staff was great, they carried me, cleaned and fed me, drove me to surgeries, wheeled me to daily therapy where I learned to walk all over again. Despite the great team, I was heavily depressed. After the eighth surgery, my doctor had a somber talk with me and told me that life would be different from here out.
I asked the surgeon if I would be able to ride again. He gave me a somber look that told the story followed by a slow shake of the head. "You won't be able to use ladders either, or do anything that could present a balance issue." " You're too fragile now."
A good friend of mine took the bike and title from my house, washed the dust off and sold it for me. The money was gone by the next day, to hospital bills.
I was released from the nursing home on July 3rd, 4 years ago. My surgeon recognized that I was now addicted to the pain meds and cut me off. I hated him for it at the time, but now I'm completely clean and thankful. A year and a half later, I was able to get a job again. It's an office job now, at a big corporate HQ. The day before I was to start work, I drove to the huge campus to see where I needed to be the next day. When I saw that I would have to park several hundred feet from the office, I broke down. I sat in my truck and sobbed like a baby. No way I could walk that far, work a 12 hour shift, then walk back to the truck.
I did it. It hurt. I did it again and again, and it hurt less and less. It became easier, and I became more and more determined that I would not be 'fragile' but normal. Last year, I bought a used 2014 Ultra Limited - Black, of course, with 23,000 miles on it. I couldn't stop riding. That bike has become the thing I focus on to keep going every day. I dream about mods, I daydream about riding. It has 41,500 miles on it today.
I love that bike, and the freedom it provides.