So the search for the “middle bike” was on and at the suggestion of a friend, I turned to Ebay.
Now, I had never bought anything off of Ebay, let alone a motorcycle, so I was pretty ignorant about buying and selling online. I did have a basic idea about what I wanted in the next bike. I knew I wanted a used bike – I didn’t want to spend a fortune on a new one only to find it wasn’t what I really wanted and I didn’t want to worry about messing up a brand new bike because of beginner’s mistakes. I was also looking for a bike with mid range controls, meaning that the clutch and the brake were within reach of my short legs. Other priorities included a lower seat height, low mileage and of course, it had to be within my price range.
A bike that seemed to fit my needs was available and I jumped into bidding. I was the high bidder for a couple weeks, slowly increasing the amount I would pay, always staying within my budget but slightly ahead of the other bidders. On the evening of the final bidding, I sat down at my computer, a gin and tonic by my side and played the game in earnest.
The problem with drinking gin and tonics while bidding on Ebay is that it’s easy to get excited and exceed the budget. Which is exactly what I did. Happily I moved onto my second G&T, entering in more bids and thinking “I WILL own this bike”! Well … anyone who has bid for items on Ebay knows what happened next.
I lost the bike in the last 5 seconds.
Initially I was devastated, but when I woke up the next morning I was somewhat relieved. Just two hours later, though, I received a call saying that the high bidder had dropped out! I had won the bike AND they would let me have it for my original budgeted amount. Needless to say, I was thrilled and the 2008 HD Sportster XL 883L with only 300 miles on it was mine!! Well, it was almost mine … first I had to get it home from North Carolina.
My good friend Michael agreed to drive me the two hours to pick up the bike. Just like with Billy and my Honda Rebel, I was so glad to have an experienced biker with me. Michael checked out the bike, loaded it up on the trailer and we headed back home to Virginia.
Buying the “new” bike, meant selling the old bike, so for a short period of time before I sold the Honda (not without some sadness I might add) I actually had two bikes in my carport!
I brought the Sportster home in November of 2009 and rode as many miles as I could in preparation for the next phase in my biking life: a 50th Birthday Solo Ride! I gained experience by riding solo, riding with friends and with my local HOG chapter. Slowly my confidence level grew and I was ready for my first solo trip. I’d taken a long trip before (1000 miles) but this time I would be the driver and I would be alone.
In July of 2010, I left on a 925 mile, 5 day, 3 state trip, (which will someday be the subject of another blog entry). I tamed the Tail of the Dragon in Tennessee; rode through mountains and along rivers; on beautiful sunny days and during rain storms. I also rode the entire length of the Blue Ridge Parkway. I ate at great local restaurants, visited fun local pubs, and every where I went people asked me about riding solo and celebrating being 50 years old!
I absolutely loved the freedom of those five days—no plan and the opportunity to spontaneously pick my route. I went from one town to the next, choosing the roads as I went along. The folks I met and who helped to guide me added depth to the ride. I often hear bikers talk about the wind in the face and the freedom of the road. I feel like I finally get it. Even still, when I finally pulled back into Radford, that traditional end of the day beer sure tasted good (thanks Amy!).
So what’s next in this journey of learning to ride?
After 12,000 miles of riding, I’m dreaming about my final, “big girl” bike. I’m still not sure what that bike will be but I do know that I am ready for it!