Monday, April 26, 2010

Romance on a Motorcycle

I'm a blessed man ... my girlfriend, Anna, loves to ride on the back of my motorcycle. She's also a big fan of my blog. But, being an avid reader of several blogs, she did offer a suggestion on how to improve my blog: "Put a little romance in it, baby," she said.

I first took Anna for a ride on my Harley about a month and a half ago. We rode over the Jamestown Bridge to Beavertail State Park. Anna, who had not been on a motorcycle in more than a decade, loved it. A few weeks later, she took a personal day off work and made sure it would be a sunny day just so she could ride with me again. That time, we rode to Norwich, Conn., taking some winding country back roads that reminded her of her home state, West Virginia. Anna, a classic rock fan, called it a "magic carpet ride."

We met through Facebook around Christmas 2009. I had posted a prayer on a mutual friend's Facebook wall, and she liked my photo, plus the fact that I am a Christian, a biker and single. We met for coffee and slowly developed a romantic relationship.

Anna, who is also a Christian, is definitely a Harley fan ("it's a freakin' lifestyle, dude," she says) although if I didn't have a Harley, I still think she'd ride with me.

She doesn't have a lot of time on the back of a bike, but sometimes she's even more enthusiastic than me about riding, saying she would ride in the rain with me and not complain. Her motto: "Life is tough - wear a helmet." Since I switched from the Yamaha to the Harley, I've become more of a fair-weather rider. I had committed to helping out with a bike blessing Sunday that was sponsored by my Romans 8 Riders chapter of the Christian Motorcyclists Association, and the forecast called for rain. I was considering taking my van instead of my bike, but Anna called me on it, and she's right - a true biker doesn't ride only when it's sunny and 70-plus degrees. So, I took my bike (it ended up only sprinkling). Besides, she made it up to me that night by cooking me a meal fit for a king: southern fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, cinnamon apples, biscuits and gravy, and pecan pie with ice cream for dessert. She's a keeper ....

The day before the blessing, Saturday, was sunny and in the mid-60s, and Anna had gotten a baby sitter for her son, so we planned a ride. Before the ride, she bought a leather motorcycle jacket (she didn't have a proper riding jacket and got chilled pretty good last time, but didn't complain), and I bought her some goggles. We rode through parts of southern and western Rhode Island, and stopped at Beach Pond in Arcadia. The pond was so clear she wanted to take her boots off and wade in the water and tried to get me to do the same, but I said let's wait until the weather gets warmer. She's definitely more spontaneous and carefree, and I'm more structured and focused. They say opposites attract.

One thing I had not planned was what route to take after going west on Route 165, which crosses into Connecticut. I asked Anna where she wanted to go, and she really didn't care. "It's not the destination - it's the ride," she said. So I decided to go into Connecticut, down Route 165, which turns into Route 138, and then take a right turn onto Route 49 north. I'm glad I did. Unbeknownst to me, there is an eight-mile stretch of Route 49 through Sterling, Conn., that is a designated scenic highway, leading through hilly farm country, with beautiful vistas. I wish I had taken some photos (I did bring a camera), but there were few good spots to pull over. Apparently several other bikers had the same idea, because we passed more motorcycles than cars. My left arm nearly got tired from waving so much (okay, I'm exaggerating).

Then we rode east back into Rhode Island, crossing the Scituate Reservoir over a high, narrow bridge on Route 14. The views are spectacular, and Anna, who is my age, said that was her favorite part of the ride. I stopped at Suzy-Qs, a hamburger and ice cream stand that hosts a weekly bike night, in hopes of a late lunch, but they were closed, so we settled for lunch at D'Angelos instead. As good as a D'Angelo's steak sandwich is, it can't come close to true Southern cooking.

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