I had such grand plans for this riding season.
Day by day, week by week, month by month.
There were to be Ruby Tuesdays and area festivals and long road trips.
There were to be Ruby Tuesdays and area festivals and long road trips.
Meanderings on back country roads and the exploration of provincial parks and the execution of 101 different strategies to avoid riding on major highways.
I had a vision.
I had maps.
And then, I had a heart attack.
That’s right, a heart attack.
Me… a 47 year-old single mom of two grown girls and someone on the cusp of a glorious summer full of endless possibilities and with a ruby-red VStar 650 Custom at her beck-and-call, had a heart attack.
Life has a funny way of letting you know exactly who is in charge, and it is most definitely not you.
More than the notion that I was not going to be allowed to drive a car for the next six weeks or that the emails from work were already starting to pile up was the heartbreaking declaration from the doctors that I was not allowed to ride my motorcycle for the next six weeks as well.
“But, I have a road trip planned for the last week of July,” I protested meekly. “There’s a Lavender Festival coming up in three weeks, and I also promised someone that I would go riding with them next weekend and…”
I stopped speaking when I saw ‘the look’.
“You’ve had a heart attack,” he said matter-of-factly.
I hate ‘matter-of-factly spoken comments; they’re so… so… matter-of-fact. You can’t really argue against them and you can’t change the circumstances under which they’re spoken.
“Well, I’m not ‘cancelling’ my trip,” I said stubbornly. “I’m just… ‘postponing’ it.”
Again with the look.
This time, it was from my sister (who had travelled all the way down from eastern Ontario in a matter of hours).
And from my youngest daughter.
And from anyone else who came to visit me that day, and the days that followed.
And so, I put riding out of my mind and I worked on beginning the recovery process.
I was in the hospital for almost a week, and during that time I had a perfect view of the long, main street into town from my bed by the window on the 5th floor.
Hearing them long before I could see them, there was an almost steady flow of motorcycles up and down the boulevard. “I’m such a biker,” I remember thinking to myself as I took note of their lane positions, the makes & models, and imagined the stories of the riders and where they were headed. It helped to pass the time but it also added a little bit to the sadness I was feeling as the notion that all my well-laid plans and ‘soon-to-be’ adventures were ‘not to be’.
So, there you have it.
I’m sidelined for the next month or two.
I’m down… but not out.
The calendar on the wall in my home office that was filled with dates and destinations and kilometres is now filled with doctor appointments and blood tests and cardiac rehab sessions, but that doesn’t mean that my mind isn’t filled with dreams and visions of next month and all kinds of new plans beginning to take shape.
Greek philosopher, Heraclitis, said that the only thing that is constant is change.
There’s another old saying that espouses that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
They’re both kind of true, actually.
When it comes to me n’ Ruby and our riding plans, the vision is still the same; it’s the execution that’s had to change.
Rather than look at the months of July and August as my main riding season for 2015, I’ve started to get excited about all of the wonderful events and weekends that lay ahead of us in the fall, and I plan to invest in some cold weather riding gear so that the months of November and December don’t seem quite as intimidating as they might have been even a year ago.
In the meantime, I’ve headed out to my She Shed several times since I got home from the hospital.
I’ve sat on Ruby, and started her up.
I’ve closed my eyes and listened to everything she had to say.
I’ve inhaled the heady scent of fuel and exhaust and dust swirling around me.
Then I’ve turned the key, climbed off, closed up the She Shed and headed back into the house.
It hasn’t been nearly enough, but it has had to be ‘enough for now’.
We’ll be back in the wind soon… and when we are? Oh, the places we’ll go!
But, what about the places we’ve already been?
Show Us Your Ride
I never go anywhere on Ruby without my camera. You never know who you might bump into in a Timmy’s parking lot or when you just might happen to stumble across the perfect backdrop for a photo of your ride.
And so, for this edition of KIMbits & KATtales – and until Ruby and I are out on the road again – I thought I’d share a few of my more ‘interesting’ pictures and ask you for your own little pieces of inspiration and to share some of your most memorable moments while out riding. Just post it to the What A Ride Facebook page including the #ontariomotoroads hashtag.
At the end of the summer, we’ll take everyone who has submitted a short story or a great picture of their ride in a unique and/or interesting location, put their names into a helmet, and make a draw for a great little ‘rider’s prize pack’.
So…ready, write and snap away! You might just win a sweet gift, and, at the very least, you’ll be sharing the best of what riding is all about… the memories!
I met Kim S. three years ago at Tons of Bike Gear near Niagara Falls....I was on my way to the Niagara Bike Show and I was about 8 months out from even writing my M1... I was such a keener! *lol* I asked her everything about her bike, a VStar 1100, and we talked for almost an hour... She let me take her picture and then I was on my way.... We happened to see each other at the bike show that weekend, and when we parted ways, I don't think we ever thought our paths would cross again... And now, almost three years later, there we were in the exact same place (Tons of Bike Gear). I now have a VStar (her 1100’s ‘baby sister’) and I am on my way to being a biker too *lol* Two Kims are better than one!
Pausing to take in the view and to get a picture taken somewhere up on the escarpment in the Niagara region…
For anyone who has travelled highway 20 between Hamilton and Niagara Falls, this mailbox is a landmark…
I am always looking for colourful and unusual places that can act as backdrops for pictures of Ruby. This wall that faces a little side street in Brantford was just too interesting to pass by…
As an aside, I am looking at creating a list of great wall paintings / graffiti walls in Ontario. Do you know piece of outdoor art or a painting on the side of a building that would make the perfect backdrop for a bike photo? Let us know about it! Send us a picture of your bike against it as a background including the #ontariomotoroads hashtag and you could win a great prize!
The next time you make the Friday the Thirteenth trek to Port Dover or you are out for a leisurely ride in that area, make sure to make a stop at Kinsmen Park at the top of the hill by the bridge. There is a monument in memory of fallen riders and a memorial tree right behind the stone. I always make a point of taking a moment to stop and pay my respects…
Just down a little side road at the junction of Highways #2 and #5 in Paris, Ontario is ‘The Shoe Tree’. I’m not exactly certain of the reasons why it exists, but it certainly makes for an interesting location for a bike photo. If you’re from the area and could shed some light on the tree’s background, feel free to share it here or send me a quick email so that I can share the story with fellow riders…
According to his website, Brantford Town Crier, Mr. Dave McKee, was placed 2nd at both the 2001 Town Crier World Championships and the 2002 North Americans and, 2nd and 3rd, respectively, at the 2001 and 2004 Lord Mayor of Chester’s Invitational World Tournaments. From 1997 till 2003 he was the Top Ranking Canadian Town Crier in the World! Never being one to pass up the opportunity to introduce Ruby to friends and celebrities alike, I took advantage of the opportunity to get a photo snapped with Dave in downtown Brantford one sunny June afternoon…
Another special friend, Mr. Walter Gretzky, was more than happy to climb onto Ruby and pose for a picture…
This wonderful group of gentlemen was gathered around Ruby and checking her out in the parking lot when I came out from buying a tea at a local Timmy’s. I think we ended up standing and chatting for almost 45 minutes before we all mounted up and went our separate ways. We all met as strangers but departed as friends…
Ruby and I were out for a ride out in Ohsweken, Ontario (www.sixnations.ca) when we came around a curve and happened upon a motorcycle accident. We pulled off to the side of the road and went to offer words of encouragement to the fallen rider out in the farmer’s field (he had misjudged the curve) and his riding companion (not injured) until emergency crews arrived and blocked off the road in both directions. The rider was airlifted to an area hospital (with a broken leg and plenty of cuts & bruises) for treatment of his injuries.
Another great background for taking bike shots; this one is in Brantford, Ontario, on the outskirts of the downtown core…
Early in the season, I went on an hours-long ride with my friend Kim S. and one of her fellow Chrome Divas (Niagara division) all over the Niagara region, and we made a quick stop in Port Dalhousie to take in the sights of people wandering along the pier and the beach by the carousel. I looked up the hill from the beach and loved the look of our bikes parked on the side of the road. A simple picture, but it brings back all of the memories of that day…
The doctors may have declared that riding was off-limits for the first 4-6 weeks following my heart attack (which happened on June 17th), but you can’t keep a good KAT down. I called on my friend and fellow rider, Jessie Gregory, two weeks into my recovery to help me get back out into the wind. It may have only been a thirty minute ride around town, but it meant the world to me. THANKS, Jessie!
KAT (aka KimberleeAnna Taplay) is a member of the ‘What A Ride!’ correspondent team, and is looking forward to sharing the next edition of The Adventures of KAT n’ Ruby with you. To reach Kimberlee by email, send your questions and/or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. KAT’s next adventure is scheduled to go live on Friday, August 7th, 2015