Actually, I’m fairly certain I can think of at least three times, but for today I will only relate two of the times.
I used to spend my summers in Oregon at my grandparents’ ranch. They would often have many other family members come and stay for a period of time as well. This particular summer, a family member was visiting with his 3-wheel ATV. I think it was a second or third cousin of mine, but I can’t remember exactly. I was either 12 or 13 at the time and eyeballing his ATV. Watching him ride around the property made it look like a lot of fun, even though I was terrified of it. He asked me if I wanted to ride it, and I hesitated. My dad was standing there and the guy/cousin/dude asked if it would be okay. I said I didn’t know how to ride or shift gears, and they told me I would be fine in first as I rode around. So, I nervously but excitedly got on and slowly started around.
I have to stop here and explain the layout of the ranch. The house was situated to one side of a little valley between two mountains. There was a small pasture beside the house. It was probably as wide as a football field and about three-quarters the length, with a little creek running right through the middle. It was sunk down about 5 to 6 feet on the house side, and had a dirt road that rimmed around it, elevating to about 15 – 20 feet as you got to the back side and started to round the corner to head back to the house. That back corner also had a roughed up, old wooden rail fence bordering it.
The house had a second story sliding glass door facing the pasture. That part of the house had been a sort of recent addition, and so the balcony outside of the door had not been built yet. It was just a door that opened and dropped straight down to the ground. It also looked perfectly across the pasture towards the elevated corner of the pasture.
Now little Christy (that’s what everyone called me when I was younger), was motoring her way around the pasture. In first gear. It felt like 30 miles per hour to me, but probably really more like two. And it was awesome! I was slowly making my way around the pasture, and climbing up the back road towards the corner. Which looked not so high from the house, but as I rode up towards it I felt the road closing in on me, becoming narrower and narrower. The cliff (yes, now it was a sheer cliff straight down from the road) made me feel like I was on the Guoliang Tunnel Road. I slowly came to the peak of the corner, and stopped.
The road banked to the left as it rounded that end of the pasture. The angle was terrifyingly sharp (it wasn’t really). I didn’t know what to do. It looked like if I went down the road, the steep angle would make me roll off towards the “cliff”. I didn’t know what to do. Get off, leave the ATV and walk to the house? No, that would make me a chicken. And, I am NOT a chicken, even though I am the biggest chicken in the world. I stayed in that spot for
hours a minute or so, then decided to just cowboy up and head home.
So, I punched it. But not on purpose. I also had turned the wheel to the left when I stopped, but didn’t realize it. The pasture had that wooden fence on the upper corner, except the cross posts in the area I was at were gone. So, I roared off the cliff, tumbling end over end over end. Not really, but it felt like it at the time. Of course, that part of the “cliff” was covered in blackberry bushes. Which is NOT fun to crash through. I sort of felt like briar rabbit. Except I wasn’t happy about it.
Dad had been watching me crawl around the pasture on the ATV from the second story sliding glass door. I remember lying on my back, twisted up funny, wondering if I was going to die or had broken any bones. My head was turned facing the house, and I remember looking sideways at the door as my dad jumped out of it. I was thinking he could have killed himself doing that, as he tore across the pasture to get to me. When he got there, with all the drama that a 13 year old could manage, I asked him how bad it was. I think he sorta laughed and told me it wasn’t that bad, I had just fallen off the back of the ATV as it lurched forward down “the little hill” (little hill my ass!).
So, despite a few scrapes from the blackberry bushes, I was fine and so was the ATV. Except that I was terrified of the death machine. That afternoon, dad told me I needed to get back on it. I refused. He insisted that it was something I MUST do. I refused. We ended up compromising a bit. He would drive it, and I would ride on the back. Totally safe, and since he was operating it, I knew everything would be fine.
He choose to go up the one of the mountain roads behind the house. It was a gradual climb, but ended up getting steeper. Which would be completely fine, had I not been clinging to him for dear life and begging him not to go fast. He, not wanting to traumatize me further, kept it in first gear and we crept up the road. Which was getting more steep. Which made me cry out for him not to go faster. Which made him say he had to go faster to get up the road. But he didn’t. And so gravity decided to take it from there. Creeping up a steep hill with two people on a three-wheeler will only end in one thing. Flipping over backwards. Oh. Yeah.
I stood up, crying like a big ol’ baby, and screamed at my poor dad that I was NEVER. IN. MY. LIFE. getting on anything like that again. NOT. EVER. And, as only a 13 year old girl teenager can do, I stomped down the hill bawling my eyes out all the way back to the house. I’m pretty sure he was trying so hard to keep from busting up laughing, but the mouth contortions and twinkle in his eyes gave him away. This whole incident was probably one of my favorite memories with dad.
About 4 years later, I went on a date. I lived up in the mountains and it had recently snowed. My date had a quad. I was hesitant (actually, I was downright chicken-livered, about ready to pee-my-pants scared) to ride it, but we were out with another couple and I didn’t want to show how I felt. Or be laughed at. So, we took the quads out to a back forest road, covered in snow. When he took the quad out of the truck bed and I noticed that his headlight was actually a 4-cell Maglite duct-taped to the top of the broken head-light. I should have been concerned. Instead, I hopped on the back, and squeezed my eyes shut as he tore off down the road. Did I mention this was at night? Yeah. So, not being able to see where we were going (with my eyes squeezed shut), and clinging to him like a spider-monkey, I managed to stay on when he whipped the handle bars to the left and we skidded to a stop. Next to a cliff. A real cliff. That he didn’t know was there, he just decided that was the time to turn around.
NEVER. AGAIN. I said. Never would I ride anything that was an open air “vehicle”. Particularly anything that was called a “quad” or “ATV”. I refused to ride a motorcycle with anyone but my dad. I even signed a document written to my father when I was younger saying that I would never ride a motorcycle with anyone but him.
Then, I met Brad. He has a purty bike. She’s a beauty. A canary yellow Honda Magna 750cc. I was so tempted to get on. And, he’s the most careful person I know. So, I rode with him. I was his “seat cover”. I LOVED it. Also, he didn’t put me in any terrifying “I’m gonna die” situations. Mister recently bought a Honda ST1300. He put the Magna up for sale. I did not like that. Not at all. I had also recently starting watching Sons of Anarchy on Netflix. Which can mean only one thing. Mister couldn’t sell the Magna, because I. MUST. RIDE.
Yes, seriously, I have gotten the bug to learn how to ride a motorcycle. So, I registered for a course in December. The first available one being scheduled for February 1st-3rd. Today.
I’m hoping that I can continue to say that I almost died twice (ok, three times) from stupidity. I’m nervous and excited. And, if you see a canary yellow Honda Magna with a redhead on it around Havasu, get out of the way, ok?!
Do you ride a motorcycle?
What do you love most about it?