Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Michael, Michael, Motorcycle

Post 29
I arranged to meet my friend Frank at the diner. “Frank,” I asked him, “is it challenging for an older person to ride a motorcycle?” 
“Who are you calling old?” asked Frank.  
“Myself, actually.” I said. “I’m thinking about getting a motorcycle. You’re the most experienced (read “oldest”) rider I know.  I value your advice. “
 Frank is 70 and still rides fifteen thousand miles a year.  He has been riding for 40 years. Experience trumps youth.  If anyone should talk me out of riding a motorcycle, it would be Frank.
“Well you dug yourself out of that hole.” Frank replied. “What makes you think you’re old?”
 “Listen Frank,” I said,” if I’m going to satisfy my desire to ride a motorcycle, I need to do it now.  I was going to wait until I retired, but my situation has changed.”
I told him about the Parkinson’s. I had just begun telling select people about my diagnosis and I have been pleasantly surprised at how people, mostly male friends, react.  After a cursory “Sorry to hear that”, they realize they don’t really know that much about PD. They become curious in a detached clinical way. They ask questions.
Frank wanted to know why the doctor first suspected the disease. I showed him how my arm cog-wheeled when I bent it.  Frank bent my arm. Then he had me bend his arm. His motion was fluid. Satisfied that he didn’t have PD, he settled in to talk motorcycles.
I told Frank that I rode smaller bikes when I was young.  I gave up riding when I started a family because I couldn’t afford to be injured.  Now, being injured didn’t seem like the worst that could happen.
“Riding on the roads is a lot different now.” Frank said. “Half of the drivers don’t see you, and the other half won’t respect you.  You have to ride defensively and assume you are invisible to everyone.  Any other questions?”
“Yeah.” I replied. “Will you keep your eye out for a decent used ride for me?”

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