• Helen Row Toews

Prairie Wool

Two Wheels That Move the Soul

My brother recently purchased a handsome Harley Davidson. It’s his pride and joy. He keeps it safely tucked away under lock and key until he needs to slip away from everyday toil and send the cares and worries of life tumbling into the breeze that whistles past his ears. I understand. There are few things better than swinging onto a motorbike and hitting the open road on a hot summer afternoon.

Back in the day, I used to ride one myself. Surprised? Well, it’s quite true. There was a 250 Suzuki trail bike that took me on many grand adventures, and then, for a while, I owned a street bike. A black leather jacket and sparkly, red, full-face helmet were part of my constant attire. It came complete with a black visor that, when opened for conversation’s sake, looked for all the world as though I survived, somewhat like Darth Vader, inside a hermetically sealed microwave oven.

I taught my oldest son Chris to ride a motorbike, which may or may not have been a good thing, but it’s too late to take back now. A couple of summers ago, I was quietly tending flowerbeds when I heard what sounded like the angry whine of a low-flying jet. I looked up, shading my eyes against the sun. Some lunatic was doing a wheelie across the field across from our house! Then, this crazy person roared down into the ditch and ramped off the other side, flying high in the air – and into our driveway.

Was it Evel Knievel?

Speechless, I stood holding my trowel as the bike skidded sideways to a halt in a shower of gravel, and Chris hopped to the ground, beaming happily.

“Isn’t it great?” he cried, brushing a few impaled bugs from his brow. “It’s a CRF 450 Honda dirt bike. I’d like you to take it for a spin and try it out,” he finished proudly as the rest of the family emerged hesitantly from the house.

I edged toward the gleaming machine. Good grief. I hadn’t ridden a bike in twenty years, let alone a monstrous one like this. Was it even possible – or wise? Would I careen headlong into the ditch and require several sturdy men wielding acetylene torches and wire cutters to extricate my mangled body from a barbed-wire fence?

End my days in horrible disfigurement after grinding face-first along our gravel road in a heap of twisted metal? Be forced to ride on into infinity because my feet couldn’t reach the ground to slow down and turn the blasted thing around?

The engine rumbled loudly as I thought. No, I couldn’t refuse and disappoint my son when he clearly had faith in me. Plus, there was a certain amount of pride involved. I had to do it.

Strapping on his helmet, I grimly accepted a boost to get on, and eventually managed to growl off down the driveway mouthing a silent prayer. In the end, however, it all went quite well. It felt good to speed through the gears and feel the wind rush past my face as it had so many years ago. I like riding bikes.

Maybe I should get one again – if only I had my flashy red helmet.

Helen lives on the family farm near Marshall, Saskatchewan, where she works as an author, columnist, and in education. Find her online at helentoews.com. There, you can learn more about her humorous Prairie Wool Books, or newly released fantasy series, Runestaff Chronicles.


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