Further: Turn a Jack Russell Into a Harley-Davidson | Thoughts on Motorcycling

Further Motorcycle Column IV Jonathan Handler

Further Motorcycle Column IV Jonathan HandlerFurther Motorcycle Column IV

Challenges abound when trying to make time on weekends to be with riding buddies. I’m happy because my wife has friends, hobbies and projects, and she enjoys her “me-time.”

Helen knows that if something important is scheduled for a Saturday or Sunday, then I will join her without (much) complaint. The most evolved level of non-biking partner is the one with other things to do on weekends, at least during the day.

Not everyone is as lucky as I am, on many levels, and among our group of riding buddies the concept of earning “coupons” is often discussed. Coupons are a euphemism for credits from one’s partner toward time away from home, with friends, and are amassed through a complex ritual of doing favors for the partner and, often, begging.

It requires a partner’s complete acquiescence to schedule, say, a one- or two-week ride through the Rocky Mountains, or anywhere else, with the gang.

There is also a dark side that is often heard after marriage and childbirth. It goes something like, “Honey, now that Junior is here, and life is about his security and mine, it’s time to get off your bikes and get on the hamster wheel.”

You know where that’s heading—right down the slippery slope of all work and no play. The smell of dirty diapers, to my mind, was never a good substitute for burning Castrol from the exhaust of an internal combustion engine. Actions such as these are sad and an affront to mankind.

I have experienced this personally, and I bought it hook, line, and sinker. With two bikes in my garage on my first wedding day — Kawasaki Mach III and KE250 — I was to be separated from them for almost 20 years.

I was brainwashed and did actually believe that I must put family first and avoid risks. But, the cost was steep. I should have argued that I was capable of doing both and a generous life insurance policy would help iron out the wrinkles.

It took me all those years to finally position myself in a place from which I could rebel, because I surely missed riding. And with my wife at the time, that position had to be highly fortified. I was older and had figured out the kids and security side of life.

I longed to be back in the saddle, but had no idea how to make the transition, other than that I had made sure to keep the motorcycle endorsement on my driver’s license valid during the long hiatus.

Then, the miracle happened. Cousin Dan was visiting from San Francisco, and while we were talking at the kitchen table, in walked my (now ex-) wife with a new dog under her arm. I don’t know about you, but my opinion on pet acquisition is that, no matter the household income, all family members should have a say in the matter.

I kept my cool over this unsolicited pooch called Piglet, who I later learned to love, and she later said, “I really appreciate you not reacting negatively, especially in front of Dan.” To this I replied, “Just as I know you won’t react negatively to the new Harley-Davidson I’m going to buy.”

I arrived home two weeks later on a diamond ice 2001 Harley-Davidson Softail Deuce, and that’s how to turn a dog into a Harley. So friends, keep riding. Do whatever it takes to maintain a good relationship at home, try to bring your partner along, or at least keep her happy.

And, above all, if you must, turn your Jack Russell into a Harley, any other favored brand, or one you build yourself. Stay on two.

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