“Faster, faster, faster, until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death” ~Hunter Thompson

Here’s something you likely noticed about me: I’m always up for a new adventure. There are some thrills, though, that I have purposefully avoided in my life, and riding a motorcycle has always been one of them.

In fact, up until last week, I’d never been on a real motorcycle before. I grew up in a family biased against motorbikes — my grandfather witnessed a horrific accident in which a motorcycle rider was killed, perhaps even decapitated if my memory of the story is correct, and his fear of bikes was passed on to my father and to me.

My brother Sean, on the other hand, happened to marry into a family of people who have their M-class licenses and love motorcycles. When he mentioned a year or so back that he had his own bike, I admit I was surprised, and worried. Bikes to me are dangerous and reckless machines, even in the hands of reasonably responsible people.

But I was also just the tiniest bit intrigued. I’ve long admired their fluid lines and shiny chrome bits, and admit to being curious in a very hesitant sort of way. Which is how this ended up happening when we visited my brother’s family last week:


Yeah baby, that’s me on a motorcycle, entrusting my life to the same kid I spent most of my childhood looking for new and unique ways to make miserable. Right about the time this was taken, I was thinking I should have been a whole lot nicer to my brother when we were kids!

He took me for the most amazing, exhilarating ride through the concession roads and secondary highways near his home in Georgetown, and I was astonished at how much I enjoyed it. Um, once I started breathing and stopped clenching my jaws and butt cheeks in terror, that is.

So now that I’ve logged a good 20 minutes of saddle time and am a professional motorcycle passenger, here’s five things I learned about motorcycles:

1. It doesn’t take long for you to get used to the alarming way the ground rushes up at you when you bank to make a turn, but the first few times you turn a corner you’re sure you’re road rash.

2. To truly enjoy the experience, you must first stop envisioning the potential 24 point newspaper headlines describing the horrific crash and grieving family you left behind.

3. You don’t have to hold on tightly enough to leave finger prints. Through two layers of leather. (Sorry, Sean, hope the bruises heal soon!)

4. Riding in the snow is obviously out, and riding in the rain is only for the truly dedicated. Riding in long pants, an armoured jacket and 3/4 length leather gloves is also no treat when the humidity nears 40 degrees.

5. Oh my sweet lord, it’s a LOT of fun. I liked it waaaaaay too much. As soon as I unclenched my sphincter, anyway. Once I relaxed and started enjoying the ride, I could immediately imagine a perfect afternoon spent on the bike with a camera stowed safely inside my jacket, doing carefree loops around the Niagara escarpment and stopping here and there to take pictures as the spirit and the prevailing wind inspired me.


Aside from the amazing feeling of connection with the environment that I felt on the bike, like we were a part of the landscape instead of merely passing through it, what amazed me was the instant admission into the club of cool as soon as I donned the motorcycle jacket and helmet. I couldn’t believe how many people raised a hand in casual salute as we drove past, including one elderly gentleman standing beside his car who waved at us with happy enthusiasm as if we were Peter and Jane Fonda.

(Less cool was standing in a parking lot with two bike dudes looking on in amusement as my brother untethered my helmet for me just seconds before I hyperventilated. Apparently I need to practice my cool just a wee bit more.)

And the quote I used in the title of this post? Totally appropriate and totally true. I hadn’t wanted to go any faster than 50 or 60 kms an hour, but when I looked over Sean’s shoulder one giddy moment and saw the speedometer creep over 100 km/h on those back country roads, I felt a crazy kind of blissful freedom I never would have expected. I still don’t think I’d ever want to actually drive one. Too heavy, too complicated, too much risk. But to ride along as a contented passenger behind someone as capable and trustworthy as my brother? In a New York minute.

I don’t know what’s more astonishing, that I’ve come to love riding a motorcycle or that I’ve come to appreciate my brother as capable and trustworthy. Who would have guessed it?

Author: DaniGirl

Canadian. storyteller, photographer, mom to 3. Professional dilettante.

8 thoughts on ““Faster, faster, faster, until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death” ~Hunter Thompson”

  1. One of my uncle is a motorbike fanatic but he had a few serious accidents and always seemed to be in and out of the hospital when I was a kid. To be honest, he is a not a smart driver… not a very smart person but that’s another story.

    As much as I like speed (I loved surfing and windsurfing for instance) I don’t know anyone around me I could trust with my life on a motorbike. And there is no way I’d drive one myself!

  2. Ohhhhh welcome to the club! My first date with Hubs was on HIS motorcycle. I loved it too! We were in a bad car accident a year later and he couldn’t ride so he sold it, but we just recently bought another one. It’s a big Yamaha Touring Bike, and I can so relate to everything you said. The smells of the fields, the trees, lakes, etc. Heaven (although the cow manure, not so much). I agree about the cool jackets and stuff making you instantly cool, too. (I LOVE my jacket) Little kids gawk at us from cars or the sidewalk, and when I smile and wave they are all excited. It took me awhile to get used to it again and not panic so much when we were going around a corner fast or passing a logging truck. (Logging truck Dani, it was weird! You could SMELL the WOOD!)

    We just went on a big ride from Vancouver to Calgary last week, and it was SO much fun. Next year, we’re going to California!

    The motorcycle “wave” I’m told is a fraternity kinda thing, as if to say “Hey, you’re part of the club!” Bikes, I find, garner a lot of attention from people who either own one, love them, used to own one, or wish they did. Sometimes guys with their cars full of little kids look at us on the bike wistfully and sigh.

    Now Hubs and I just HAVE to know. What kind of bike was it?

  3. my parents bought a motorcycle when they retired. i thought they were crazy. until my dad took me for a ride. it was in florida and we went through a bunch of state parks and rode for a good two hours. i actually learned a lot about my dad that day. like would be is an environmentalist at heart and truly appreciated the beautiful of our natural environments. they sold the bikes a few years later, but it is a memory that will last me a life time.

  4. Okay, here’s the deets on the bike, straight from its owner:

    “It’s an ’04 Suzuki Volusia 800cc (800cc is the size of the engine). You won’t find too many Volusias. They were quickly succeeded by the current Suzuki (M50)
    Boulevard. The main diff is that I have a carburetor engine, and the Boulevards are fuel injected.”

    I would have said, “It’s the blue one!”

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