Along For The Ride (Who Are We?)


People ask me almost daily : Have you always been into motorcycles? I’m a hair dresser, so I talk to a lot of people every day. I have any number of similarly themed responses:

No. Absolutely not. Really? Unequivocally and resoundingly not. Hell no. Ha. Haha Ha….ha.

You get the idea. There was never a moment in my life that I could recall looking at a motorcycle and thinking to myself “that looks amazing!” Mostly I looked at them and saw an unrealized death wish. When my dad would show me his latest motorcycle related purchase, I would muster whatever enthusiasm I could discover for his new self destructive tendencies and offer a tepid half smile and wobbly thumbs up and hope that was good enough. I would follow up with a lecture on helmet wearing.

Then my world collapsed a little bit. Things had been tasting a bit sour for a while: frustrations at work, family illness, family and friend communication wires crossed, the wheels were stolen off my car, the weather sucked, and a swelling existential crisis that threatened any stability I felt in the wake of turning thirty. And then my boyfriend looked at the floor and said he didn’t think he was in love with me, not really. Like a punctured lung, all the oxygen was sucked out, the room compressed, and everything was still. That’s when I realized that I needed to do something much bigger than what I felt that moment was, just maybe for a little perspective. Not right that moment, but maybe a week later, that’s when I decided to learn how to ride a motorcycle. A few days before my first class, that was when I called my dad and said, um… I think I should go with you. He said “I thought that might be coming next.” And now, I’m along for the ride.

exciting life as a hairdresser about to change....
exciting life as a hairdresser about to change….

Mike (Pop)

Kind of interesting, it is, how we define ourselves. Most descriptions seem to rely on some combination of our connections to other folks, or our employment history, or geographic location, or what we do for fun. So I’ll just take these on one at a time:

Connections: James and Heathers pop, Becky’s father-in-law, Molly’s grandpa (one of two). Jim and Pat’s little brother, Willard and Ruthie’s youngest boy. Was married to Jeani Collins, but she got called home early. Way, way too early. Related to a significant percentage of eastern Colorado. Friend to a large and diverse group of folks, close friend to a small and diverse group of folks. You know who you are…and you KNOW you’re diverse – in many ways…

Employment: Engineer, retired Foreign Service Officer (best job in the world), and professional haggler, helping Bechtel clients (typically Feds) and contractor managers in finding and doing the right thing. A Vet, educated by the GI bill.

Fun: A dabbler, which is a nice way of saying “short attention span”, but a few things have stuck. Fish and ski, but not as much as in previous years. Still drag a guitar (or three) around.

Needing to fill summer days while living in Frankfurt, Germany, rediscovered a dormant affection for motorcycles. On an impulse, plunked down a deposit on a pretty little purple Harley Sportster, thought a little more, and ordered a Blue BMW Roadster instead. Picked it up in Berlin, and sometime later, brought it back to the States. Loved that bike, but even more the current steed (see “Bikes”)

So after 35 years of living no more than 3 years anywhere, I landed in Santa Fe, working at Los Alamos.  And after 3 years of driving up and down the hill to work, I was developing a chronic case of what Doris Heim described as an “Eye Problem” – as in, “I can’t see my ass driving up that hill today”. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a really good job, working with really neat people, making good money. But…after three years…I was getting really stale.  I knew it was MY problem, had nothing to do with anyone around me.  But I needed to do something about it…

One Sunday, while I was watching Nacho Libre (for the umpteenth time), a piece of dialog stuck in my brain, and played over and over and over again:

Nacho:  “Maybe it’s time for me to get a better duty!”

THAT’S what I needed — “a better duty!” Um…but I didn’t need to become a professional wrestler, like Nacho.  I needed a radical, legendary romp to put some adventure back into my bones, and I knew just what it was.  I needed to get with it and make the bike trip I’d been talking about and prepping for, for several years — to South America!

The next day, I arranged for 3 months off and told everyone I could think of that I was headed south (so I COULDN’T back out). There were people out there in the world who were LIVING, and I was gonna be “along for the ride” with ’em. Woohoo! In the absence of a partner to run with, I’d go solo, because that was the only option I thought I had. But I was no longer going to use that excuse to sit sedentary. And then Heather joined up, woohoo! So now WE’RE along for “The Ride”!

Woohoo indeed!


4 responses to “Along For The Ride (Who Are We?)

  1. Lisa

    #1 I can’t wait for your adventure
    #2 I can, however, wait for you to leave and never return here to live
    #3 Who the f is going to cut my hair? And even then, you KNOW I wont let anyone else blow dry it.
    #4 *sigh*

  2. Lovely Lisa — she’s not going to the moon! But she is her mother’s daughter. I learned early on there was little profit in arguing (much) with either one of them, and that they do pretty much what they want. But now that you are a soon-to-be-famous BD practitioner, you MUST come find us! And you know she’ll be back. She has way too many amazingly great friends in Chicago not to…mr

  3. debbie goddess

    Hey Mikeal (Heather?)
    just went and had my first hair cut since you left! Seriously. It was hard sitting in Paul’s chair but it was full circle. 10 years of art and science.
    As much as I miss you, this sounds like the best thing anyone can ever do in their life.
    If only I wasn’t shit scared of motorbikes!!!!
    I am trying not to be envious, but we are responsible for what we make of our lives, so stay on the road for as long as you can. There’s a big beautiful world out there and you don’t want to miss it. Maybe we’ll meet for a drink in Buenos Aires!

    Love ya

  4. Mike & Heather,
    It is Oct-12, and I just learnt about your blog. So I am going to go step by step all the way with you guys filled with a “good” envy for your experiences and your journey.
    Loved the “Who we are”!!, can’t wait to read all about your trip.

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