My new bike wasn’t sexy: no extended fork, teardrop tank or ape hangers. It wasn’t a cafe racer that left me lying on the tank like I was humping it, nor was it an English motorcycle with style to burn. My new bike was an extremely practical Japanese ride with a highway-sized gas tank and fiberglass saddlebags. It was a station wagon on two wheels, but it was a monster.
What made my Yamaha such a beast was the 1,100 cc engine packed into the 600 pound bike. My father owned a car with a smaller engine, and my MG’s wasn’t too much bigger. The Yamaha was powered by a drive shaft, too, so acceleration was incredibly smooth. Practicality and performance. I loved it.
But that’s an exaggeration. One can’t love an inanimate object like one loves another person, like I loved the girl whose tiny hands were wrapped around my waist as we sliced through the humid night.
Jody was back, disenchanted with New York and the modeling business, and we both were back in the Piedmont for the summer: back where we met, where we grew up, where we fell in love. We tore down the two lanes of blacktop, the bike’s headlight penetrating the darkness. She rubbed her hands across my chest and rested her cheek against my shoulder..
We wound along the dam road, past Lake Bowen and onto Highway 9. We passed Sherri’s house and sped toward Boiling Springs, turned left at The Pantry, the convenience store where my old boss Mr. T’s wife worked. The big engine purred past Matt’s house and the fields where I played little league baseball.
These were the roads that I once bicycled, first toward the sweet lips of my junior high sweetheart and later hour after hour on my blue Pinarello, smelling the peach orchards and delighting in the throb of my tired legs.
Onward, past Bradley’s Stop-N-Shop and down the big hill leading to Lee G.’s and my trestle bridge, where we climbed the old bones and talked about nothing, everything.
The wind warmed my face and the big engine whirred beneath us. Jody’s hand ran down my belly and tugged at the button on my jeans. I’d never felt so happy.