10.05.10

A Passenger on a Motorcycle

Posted in Excerpts at 10:54 am by admin

            I have just returned from a seventeen day motorcycle trip to Spain, Portugal and Morocco, as participant in a motorcycle tour of these countries. We travelled 4300 kilometers, approximately 2700 miles. I was excited about going on this adventure and now that it is over I have time to reflect on the experience.

            First, I envisioned a leisurely trip. I have been on several motorcycle trips in Europe and on those occasions we rode at normal speeds taking time to enjoy the sights as we rode. I expected some temperature differences because we were going to travel in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, the sea coast of Portugal, and the Sahara Desert. I came fully equipped and maybe I overdid the cold weather gear. There were seven couples and one guide on this adventure. What I didn’t know was that this was not going to be a leisure trip, but the men expected to ride as fast as the bikes would go, within the legal limits. They welcomed narrow roads, the more curve the better, and rough roads were also welcome. A few times I pumped so high I was surprised I landed back on the bike and prayed: ”Thank you Jesus for keeping me off the pavement!” This was a major testosterone event, and although a few times we stopped for a moment at vista points, we were right back to our racing as soon as possible.

            In order to be a good passenger, one must become” one with the bike.” For the first two days I held on so tightly that my fingers were numb. My body ached all over by the end of the day from the tension. Today, a week after the trip one finger is still numb. I may have some nerve damage. Eventually I was able to relax, and just “go with the flow.” This means leaning with the bike and totally trusting that the rider is expert enough that I will be safe. Trust is the key to being a good passenger. I took me at least two days to physically and psychologically trust the driver and the bike.

            One of the other passengers on this trip showed me her fingers. Her nails were bitten completely down, and she had started biting her cuticles. She said she was petrified, and didn’t know why she agreed to do this. I checked with her everyday, and she said: “I started praying 8 hours a day and now I’m up to at least 12 hours.” She was never able to relax and enjoy any part of riding. 

           I found it hard to get on and off the bike. Even with practice, it never became easy. We were on a BMW GS 1200 and the seat is very high off the ground. My right leg had to reach over the seat which was too tall for my short stature.

            The first time we stopped for gas we managed to “drop the bike.” My husband forgot to put the side stand down while I was dismounting and Bill couldn’t hold us up and bike slowly fell to the side. The fall was slow enough that we did not damage the bike. There was considerable damage to Bill’s dignity and self esteem but he is expected to recover.

            The temperature riding through Morocco went from a high of 107 F to a low of 50 F. Fortunately I had purchased a summer mesh riding jacket before I left home. I took a warmer jacket along but did not use it once. The mesh jacket with the water-proof liner installed, gave plenty of warmth for the colder times.

            Some of the questions I am asked are: Did you have a good time? “Yes, once I was able to trust and relax.” It was an adventure, being in a strange land, even riding a camel, sleeping in a tent in the Sahara Desert, listening to the haunting calls to prayer from the Muslim prayer towers, going to exotic markets, eating local foods, meeting the very friendly Moroccan people, and enjoying the beauty of Portugal and Spain, The next question is: Would you do it again? “No, once is enough!” It was not a ‘day in the park.’ It was darn hard work, long days, extreme weather. I’m still recuperating, both physically and psychologically.

             Once is enough! Ha! Once is more than enough! If I ever do Morocco again it will be on a Sudan chair, not on a motorcycle seat.

8 Responses to “A Passenger on a Motorcycle”

  1. Jeniffer Thompson Says:

    Grace – wow – this sounds amazing. You are amazing. What an incredible experience. Thank you for sharing.

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