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What it's Like to Crash a Motorcycle

“Damn it. John Burns thinks I’m a dick.”
That was one of the predominant thoughts going through my head as I slid down a Florida highway at 60 mph back in March.
It’s weird how the mind works. Time slows in a crash. Every tiny image burns into memory, so your brain can replay it over and over and over at night for the next who knows how many weeks.
In the moments before I crashed, I was riding the Harley-Davidson Street Rod along County Road 34 in central Florida. I’m not sure which county. The accident report simply records it as “County Code 61,” but the internet can’t agree on which county that is. Maybe I was in Indian River County; maybe I was in Suwannee County; maybe I was in Flagler County; I don’t know. I guess it doesn’t matter; I was somewhere. The road passing through that somewhere was long and straight – not the sort of place where one usually crashes – and the weather was perfect.

“My God, I am so happy,” I was thinking. “I am so incredibly lucky to be here – to live t…

Feminine opposition

I first met my wife in autumn 2010, when I was still high on emotion from a U.S. road trip I had taken that summer. My theme song in those days was "Free" by the Zac Brown Band. So, I think it's safe to say she got it. There was never any point at which I was not clear about who I am and who I want to be. The man who needs to be free is the man she fell in love with; she understands.

But understanding only goes so far. Especially when there's no money.

If you are particularly astute you may have picked up that I have another blog, which I've maintained for almost a decade now. I use it to talk about anything and everything, including motorcycles. Why, then, create this blog?

Because she doesn't know about this blog.

I'm always honest with my wife, so if she happened upon this motorcycle diary I wouldn't be upset and it wouldn't contain any sentiment she hasn't already heard. But I feel that waving this obsession in her face wouldn't really help my cause. It is probably better if I just keep it to myself for the timebeing.

Being against motorcycles seems to be a common wifely trait (take a look at this blog post and the comments below). My ex-wife was vehemently against the idea. When she and I lived in California I floated the idea a few times and was told that any piece of paper showing my ownership of a motorcycle would be tantamount to divorce papers. And even Jenn, under the influence of alcohol and peer pressure, can sometimes fall into the trap of rolling her eyes and complaining about silly men and their want of toys.

Any time the issue of motorcycles comes up I can feel her tensing, steeling herself for some kind of battle of wills. But she has said over and over that she is not against such a thing. Her problem, she says, is that she feels a motorcycle is a luxury.

I have given her the arguments about cost, how a motorcycle takes so much less out of one's pocket than a car, but I've not made much progress. When I say I want a motorcycle this somehow translates in her mind as me saying I want her hanging off the back of it - miserable, cold, harried and arriving at dinner parties smelling of petrol*.

In fairness, in light of our current financial situation, just about any expenditure can seem luxurious. But my concern is where her definition of luxury begins and ends. There is no talk of cars being a luxury, nor vacations to the United States or South America. She and I daydream of all kinds of things, but only the motorcycle gets labelled as impractical.

Meanwhile, I see a motorcycle as necessity. Without one, I cannot be the man she married.

-----

*My brother rides a motorcycle and his one complaint is that the smell of petrol from cars' exhaust can get into your clothes. I rue the day I shared this inrformation with my wife.

Comments

  1. For "some" people, motorcycling is indeed a luxury. For me, it's a necessity because it's what my soul needs to feel fulfilled. I'm fortunate because my wife understood this when she met me. But she now understands this to a greater extent after seeing how much a motorcycle improves my demeanor following a ride, and how much it improves hers. When I'm happier, she's happier. I wrote an article about this subject here, albeit in a more lighthearted tone: http://www.motorcyclephilosophy.org/2008/03/wife-doesnt-want-motorcycle.htm

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  2. I can't understand this at all. Being a woman, this is often a situation that comes up with my women friends. They seem to resent the hobby of choice that makes their man happy. Try to remember it's not just motorcycles; they hate video games, collecting action figures or Star Wars memorabilia, sports cars, guns, etc. I've had many female friends who complain about such things, always seeing that the money could be spent better elsewhere.

    I didn't marry my husband to cut his balls off. The last thing I want is to emasculate my man, publicly or privately. I married him because I wanted A MAN! The man he is! Not some version of who I think he should be.

    I'm in my late 40's, so I see things differently now. But even at the age of 20, I knew this. My Daddy told me, "If you want a man to love you, you have to love him; everything about him. Learn to love what he loves and when you love it together, you're love for each other will grow." He was a very wise man. I've chosen to live my life this way.

    Good luck to you. I hope you find a happy medium together.

    Sash
    www.sashmouth.com

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  3. I feel your pain friend. I grew up on motorcycles. I have been riding off road since I was about 12 (I am 40 now). When recovering from crashes during offroad riding and racing become diffucult and life got in the way of getting to the trails, I switched to street riding (riding, not racing). I prefer cruisers for leisurely rides.

    However, I had some debt problems when I got engaged to my wife. To not bring those kids of problems into a new marriage, I sold off all of my toys and paid off all of my debt (autographed Watler Payton picture, motorycle, big screen plasma TV, etc.).

    I did this knowing that I made good money and that I could regain these things over time without debt. Then we got married. Then we had a kid. Then we had another kid.

    Now we have a 2 year old daughter and an 8 month old son. The two of them and my wife are the loves of my life... but there is another... me, and part of me has always been motorcycles.

    Now we need to buy a house... now I'm 40, now I have a wife and 2 young kids... I make over $100,000 / year and yet we can still somehow not afford a motorycle.

    I have reached the point of depression over this and feel that while getting married and having kids was the best decision I ever made, selling my motorcycle was the worst decision I ever made. I have lost a huge part of myself and no one gives a damn if I ever get it back. And it looks as though I won't. I lose sleep over this but my wife does not understand. She wants me to have one but it pisses me off when she says this because she wants all these other things more.

    As for me, I am the typical husband / father. Forever at the bottom of the priority list. I love my wife, I love my children... I just don't love how I have lost so much of myself and depression just keeps setting in deeper and deeper.

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  4. In addition to what I just posted, I have smoked since I was 14 (now 40, as I said). I recently quit to save money (along with countless other good reasons to quit, namely my children). But this savings more than covers the monthly cost of a motocycle, but still none.

    Matt

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