Traveling Comfortably on a Motorcycle | Love Hurts | Cranked

By Joe Gresh, Photography by Joe Gresh

Whenever my wife Colleen ventures into my motorcycle world, there’s always a period of adjustment. I operate with a highly refined sense of style and cost, most of it rooted in the Depression Era I so sadly missed. Each trip she has to re-learn that the piece of twisted metal and scrap we are riding is not trash, but is, in fact, a valuable motorcycle.

My gear system is heavily invested in bungee cords. Lots of them. All shapes, lengths and colors. It’s easier to unlock the genome code than it is to retrieve luggage or rain gear once we’re packed up and rolling. It’s a secure system up to a point: the point at which the motorcycle starts moving.

While effective as a Pilates core workout, my travel approach pre-supposes that my passenger will enjoy clinging like a lamprey to my back for thousands of miles without adjusting her posture, moving her legs or turning her head. Our rides are often on unpaved roads, winding perilously close to the edge of rock-strewn cliffs, facilitating the steering-with-her-thighs approach she’s perfected over the years. When she’s particularly scared, her next recourse is banging my helmet repeatedly with her own. Screaming in all its varieties has proven to be an ineffective weapon in her arsenal, but she can’t seem to let it go.

Colleen stowed her natural pre-ride skepticism over news that Victory was loaning us a touring bike with saddlebags and a backrest (a first!). When they sent along a leather jacket designed to fit an actual woman instead of her usual worn-to-death hand-me-down with its permanently creased-in-the-wrong-spots elbows, broken zippers and slight old-man smell, this trip showed potential.

The Cross Roads was no Barcalounger. She’d seen even more ginormous touring bikes, complete with headrests, intercoms, stereos and foot massagers. No, a graceful curving line provided support and style. Those side bags looked like they might eliminate the risk of an unsprung bungee whipping into her carotid artery or tangling in the spokes. Oh, she was zipped, fitted, warm, dry, comfortable and as unafraid as she’s ever been on two wheels while looking less like a homeless chick picked up at a truck stop and more like a woman of independent, if limited, means.

When she finally relaxed on the third day, rolling through the incredible Everglades scenery, she was actually surprised to find how enjoyable this touring business could really be. Enjoyable, that is, except for my penchant for stopping next to monster alligators as they rose from their disturbed slumber onto their stubby legs to contemplate which of us was more tasty-looking.

With her clinging response now greatly diminished, our next ride will probably feature her being scraped from some misbegotten backroad after sliding off the rear fender following one of my quick starts "to clean out the engine.” But she kept the leather Victory jacket, so she’ll look good doing it.

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