It was my first visit to New York. I’d arrived at the state line, alone, expecting to meet up with my brother and sister-in-law at some point in the next couple of days as they rode down from Maine, but for the time being, I was a lone wolf on the country roads, sheltered by a canopy of red, orange, and yellow leaves. We’d chosen October specifically for this reason, for the changing New England leaves, and for the cooler riding conditions. I wanted to get some good riding in before we needed to switch over to heated riding gear.
But, frankly, as excited as I was, I was also a little nervous. A single woman riding around the back roads all alone? The bike usually scared off most rabble rousers, but it could attract a totally different set. I was only interested in twisty, well-kept roads. Not in deflecting unwanted advances—or worse. Not that I had ever really had a problem before.
I decided to take the Sunrise Bypass to Montauk route and then double back and head north to meet up with my family after a couple of days of exploring. Equipped with just my map and a sandwich, I started off early in the morning, enjoying the crisp breeze in my hair, loving the sound of the air whipping past my face and the blur of the leaves as I raced along the twisty road. It was largely deserted, except for a group of three other motorcycle enthusiasts, who were taking their time, looking at the foliage. I gave them a wave as I went past and exchanged a peace sign with a portly gentleman who had the same make and model motorcycle as the mine.
There was also a tanker truck, jackknifed in the middle of the road, just as I came around a particularly thrilling twist. I slammed on the brakes without shifting down and heard something give inside the gearbox as I shuttered to a stop, almost losing stability and spinning out, just like this guy had obviously done.
He was alright, and so was the funky little sedan that hit him, but when I tried to get my bike going again, it was shot. Splendid. I’d be stuck on the side of the road for hours waiting for my brother to drive down here, and then it would take hours again for us to figure out the problem and somehow get the bike to a shop. That was the plan—until that gang of three other motorcyclists caught up with me.
They stopped and asked what was wrong and I sheepishly said that I didn’t know, embarrassed that though I’d been on this monster of a bike for six years, I wasn’t certain about what had happened. Luckily, the portly gentleman had been riding a lot longer and was far better equipped than I was. He scolded me for running down my gears, pulled a few from his extensive supply of extra parts, and I was on my way again, this time with three new companions. I am ever so thankful for the kindness of New York bikers.