Poppy was my first my motorcycle.
She was a sporty, bright orange machine… actually referred to as a naked sport bike, the KTM 390 Duke…. Poppy Duke, as I came to know her… perhaps the great- great- granddaughter of the General and distant niece to Daisy Duke of Dukes of Hazard fame…. one can only speculate.
She made me feel like the great-aunt who has taken in her wild niece for the summer. I owned her for about a year, but one never forgets a first love. Here are some memories….
Her youthful spirit of adventure softens my cautious sedentary existence. I am awakened to senses long buried under the day to day.
When I am with her life flashes like one watercolor painting after the next. Beauty, color and texture let me in like a child running through a museum. The curves and hills and valleys each exposing new wonders. The open straightaways invite speed and daring while passing the summer fields…. amber fields dancing like the sea, hillsides of grapevines soon to be harvested, fruit trees in tidy rows like soldiers marching in an ancient parade.
Clutch, shift, brake, throttle… its starting to come more naturally now. The learning curve has been slower than expected. Poppy has endured many rides far beneath her capabilities, but it won’t always be this way.
I am changing because of her. My peripheral vision is becoming sharper. My eyes scan the road for my next move while staying alert for deer who may dare to cross my path, potholes and rocks abound.
An unusually black rock appears and I calculate to avoid it, but my senses heighten… could it be? It’s walking. It’s hairy. It’s not a rock, but a tarantula! I seem to hold my breath and scream at the same time, “DID YOU SEE THAT? EWWW EWWW IT WAS A TARANTULA !!” My voice goes right into my husband’s helmet. He is 100 feet in front of me. He is envious for having missed it. I wish I could unsee it.
I remember that they can jump…. could I have frightened the little guy into jumping on my pants? I extend my leg, not knowing what my reaction will be if I see him. Tragedy could really come that unexpectedly. Panic is my enemy. But there is no cause for it. He is not my unwelcome passenger.
“You know they can jump, ” my husband teases unaware that I’ve just covered that scenario. He’s a funny man. Most of the time.
The turns are tighter now. Clutch! Shift! Light on the brake! Increase the throttle! Lean! Push! The spider was a good distraction, my body is responding to the road more naturally.
The sky is blue. Yesterday the coast was blanketed in fog, but today holds great promise. Magically the sapphire Pacific appears. My face actually hurts from smiling into the cushion of my helmet for so long. I can just barely feel my fingers from all that’s been required of them. I hold on too tightly still, a rookie problem that is only resolved with time.
It’s a funny thing with riding. I have always despised this road; I am prone to car sickness. I endured it for the beach…. and the Jalama burger. But now it is the road is my favorite part…. Poppy loves it too.