I hate it. As much as I love riding our motorcycle, I hate, hate, hate riding it in two situations:
1. The rain
2. On loose gravel.
Today, I took the bike to the Little One’s soccer game an hour from home. It was a beautiful ride there … sunny, 90 degrees. She and her team won 3-0 which is good, ’cause they’ve had a rough season. I knew it “might” rain on the way back, but it was beautiful, sunny, so we hit the freeway, going 75 miles an hour.
Then, I watched the sky get darker, darker, and then giant pellets of rain began to fall. Inside, I panicked. I know the tires are getting bad. I know that the freeway is no place for a motorcycle, especially when it involves my youngest daughter riding behind me, passing semi-trailers.
So, I rode off the first exit we came across. There wasn’t anything there … I mean, no gas station, no McDonalds, nothing. I told the Little One it would be OK, and said that as long as we kept the freeway nearby, we’d make it home. I turned, and wouldn’t you know it — gravel.Now, I am immersed in my two biggest motorcycle fears. But I also wanted to stay brave for her. I have to figure this out. We slow way down, and dodge the holes, the puddles, and the fear. We hit a patch that is rolled and ridged and my gut tells me I’m going to dump the bike (as I did just last summer), but instead we sing and talk out, letting our voices and our laugher rumble and vibrate with the bumps.
Eventually, we found not only pavement, but a McDonalds where I bought her a hot sandwich and a cold drink. She changed into warmer clothes, and the rain stopped. I checked a map, and decided to not re-enter the freeway. There was a paved road through a small town, which would lead us back home at a slower (and more safe) speed.
We were on the road literally three minutes, and the deluge resumed. Not only rain this time … dark rolling clouds, vicious wind, and blinding drops. I breathe deep. “You doing OK?” I ask my rider.
“Yep,” she said. She’s a trooper, that one. We pull over to another gas station, and I tell her to finish her dinner. We are there briefly. The rain stops, and although the skies remain dark, we press on. By now I’m chilled. I’m vacillating between fear and anger — anger at God who seems to play with my head as I beg for clear weather and safe travel, to get my kid home in one piece. We come upon civilization, and the weather clears and we travel on. We find ourselves in the middle of no where, and the sky splits again, soaking me and sending us into a repetitive cycle of chilling cold, barely drying, and saturating soaking again, and again and again.
Add to this the sound a motorcycle tire makes when it hydroplanes, even at a slow speed, and my adrenaline levels spike miserably. I’m in constant prayer, bargaining with God for safe travel, and spitting under my breath that He’s chosen here, when I am vulnerable and powerless and protective to crap on me. My theology is brittle and wrong, I know, I’m working on it. But putting my kid in a dangerous situation is not the way to soften my heart.
Eventually, we hit a stretch of road that is so saturated that I am sure I will slide the bike out from under us. At that point, my daughter asks me if it’s OK if she sings. “Yes!” I yell over the sound of the bike and the rain. “Any requests?” she asks. “Whatever you want,” I yell.
At first, she’s quiet. Thinking. Then her strong, clear voice begins with selections from her favorite band of the week. There is a calm, that comes over me from the back of the bike. I can barely hear most of her words. But the warmth of her song brings me peace. Peace with my situation. Peace with God.
A few songs and laughs later — despite the increasingly crappy weather — we see familiar roads, slower speeds, the promise of our warm house and a good dinner. I feel the tension seep out of me just like the dampness drying from my jeans. It feels good.