She Rode a Harley: A Memoir of Love and Motorcycles: Rider’s Library Review

She Rode a Harley: A Memoir of Love and Motorcycles: Rider's Library Review

She Rode a Harley: A Memoir of Love and Motorcycles

Mary Jane Black’s debut book – She Rode a Harley: A Memoir of Love and Motorcycles –  is a memoir that takes us down two roads. One is the literal road that traces her story of learning to ride motorcycles and the good and the bad that can go along with it.

The other is the figurative road of life we all must travel in our own way; in Black’s case that road includes escape from an abusive marriage, the grinding relationship problems that go with that and a life-changing encounter with a Harley-riding, Vietnam war veteran from Texas.

She Rode a Harley: A Memoir of Love and Motorcycles: Rider's Library Review

That Texan’s name was Dwayne Black and before long, the school teacher from Missouri had discovered a new life with Dwayne and, in fact, a new way of life, as well.

But even that didn’t get off to a smooth start. Dwayne’s work took him all over the country for extended periods of time—and as far as committed relationships, he had already been divorced twice.

Soon, the relationship looked like it would end up on the rocks before it really got started. But when some things are meant to be, well, they will be and they wound up being husband and wife.

Black tells of how they soon acquired a 1980 Harley FLT and led by Dwayne’s imagination and mechanical skill, the two built the old bike into a dream bike of their own. It was Mary Jane’s first experience actually helping to re-build a motorcycle and after four months of work the bike was done, and uniquely theirs. In a sense, the transformation of that old Harley-Davidson into something new and vibrant was a metaphor for Black’s own transformation.

That Harley was their common mount for a lot of miles, but on her forty-seventh birthday, Black earned a motorcycle license of her own. Dwayne soon had her on her first motorcycle—a Honda Shadow V-twin. But it wasn’t long before she was ready for a Harley of her own. That bike turned out to be an ex-police cruiser Road King!

For 15 years, their marriage had its ups and downs, family stresses and losses–and many miles on their bikes. Those miles even included a crash between Black and another woman riding a Gold Wing. The crash fractured Black’s left foot and took her off her bike for weeks—in the meantime, Dwayne reconstructed her Road King. The crash also earned her a “Broken Wing” patch, symbolizing a rider who had come back from a crash injury.

Even as their relationship matured, along with their riding, Black’s career as an educator continued to move ahead, eventually to her role in administration in California.

Dwayne worked for a number of Harley shops and did freelance mechanic work over the years, but when abdominal pain finally got him to a doctor, the news was disastrous—pancreatic cancer. As the disease progressed, he became too weak to ride and Mary Jane’s life changed again.

Writing with a direct and vivid honesty about her life, at times with a Hemingway-like style using short, blunt declarative sentences, Black weaves the story of love of the people in her life, the open road on a motorcycle and of life itself.

Mary Jane Black’s new book, She Rode a Harley: A Memoir of Love and Motorcycles, will be released on October 1.

Book Data:

  • Title: She Rode a Motorcycle-A Memoir of Love and Motorcycles
  • Author: Mary Jane Black
  • Published: Publisher’s release date: October, 2019 soft cover. 227 pages. Measures 5.5” x 8.5.”
  • Publisher: She Writes Press, 1569 Solano Ave., #546, Berkeley, CA 94707
  • ISBN: 978-1-63152-620-6 (paperback) 978-1-63152-621-3 (e-book)
  • MSRP: U.S. $16.95 Print; $9.95 e-book