Don’t fall off your chair.
You’re about to see the first pic of me ever posted to this blog 😛
That’s me, all trussed up and ready to go for a motorcycle ride with Ninja. And don’t worry, I know I look about 12 years old next to that bike, but I didn’t do the riding. I was safely straddling the pillion seat, clinging to my husband like a baby koala to its mother’s back.
I managed to work on three of my 101 things in 1001 days goals yesterday. For Goal #10, I went on the first of ten motorbike rides with my man; for Goal #70, I ate at the first of five new restaurants; and for Goal #42 I ate the third of five new things I’ve never tried before.
The bike ride was both thrilling and threatening.
It’s not that I’m afraid of bikes; in fact, I was raised by biker parents (not that they were Harley-riding, leather-tassle-toting Hell’s Angels or anything). Both my parents enjoyed biking before they even met each other, and they had real bikes, not those awful showy cruisers that sound more like tractors. When I was old enough, my dad took me for rides too. So motorcycles were part of my childhood.
I used to think that my dad was the only man I’d ever trust to give me lifts on a motorbike. But then Ninja learnt to ride during our dating years, and my world of safe bikers is now population: 2. I really enjoy going for rides with my husband, since he’s a sensible and safe rider and he communicates clearly to me what’s expected of me as his pillion.
So yesterday’s bike ride wasn’t threatening because of him. It was all the other hooligans on the road!
But I’m getting ahead of myself. The bad parts of the trip only came at the end. The first leg of the journey was lovely.
We decided to travel towards Hartebeespoort Dam, a very famous chilling spot on weekends and public holidays (such as yesterday, which was SA’s Human Rights Day). The main road leading there takes you through open areas of grassland, hills and trees. It feels like you’re leaving the city behind you for good.
Biking offers a special thrill and a freedom that even the fastest car will never supply. There’s that element of risk that’s just so different from taking a trip with four wheels. I love flying over the roads with the wind rushing around us; I love the little flip of fear that my tummy does when we lean around the corners. I enjoy sitting high up and being able to see past the traffic, and it’s always fun waving at bug-eyed little children in the backseats of cars.
Anyway, to get to the eateries you have to circle around the dam, riding on a bridge that only allows traffic through from one side at a time. I managed to take a pic of the entrance to the bridge because we’d had to pull over, since poor Ninja got a speck of something or other stuck in his eye.
The inscription across the top of the archway says ‘Sine aqua arida ac misera agri cultura’ on this side, and ‘Dedi in deserto aquas flumina in invio’ on the other side (which I unfortunately couldn’t capture on camera). Apparently the inscriptions mean something like ‘Without water agriculture is arid and miserable’ and part of Isaiah 43:20 in Latin. (Hmm. I’d even go so far as to say that without water, agriculture is impossible. But maybe that’s just me.)
If the arch looks old, it’s because it is – the dam was started towards the end of the First World War, and only completed shortly before the Second World War began. Since then, Harties (as it’s affectionately known) has become a top leisure spot. These days there are loads of fancy homes settled along the shores of the dam, and there’s lots to do in the area, from hot-air balloon rides to a small zoo.
But there is one problem with the dam: it’s always been full of algae, water plants and weeds. And sometimes (like yesterday) it can really pong! Yuck Bikers get the full impact of nasty smells; at least the car drivers can roll up their windows! Eventually we found a great little Italian
restaurant ristorante opposite the zoo, where the fresh air was free of foul smells. Here’s a pic of the signboard and view:
And then, since I was in the mood for achieving goals, I ordered something I’ve never tried before: curry on a pizza!
It was unusual and surprisingly yummy 🙂
On the way back, we managed to skip the long queue for the bridge. That really is one of the best things about motorbikes. Car drivers hate it when bikers are pushy, but Ninja rode very politely and safely, so people let him into the front of the queue. Since he commutes with a bike daily, he knows how to show good manners on the roads.
After we’d left the bridge and dam area behind us, the less pleasant side of the ride began. My back was starting to ache because of the backpack I carried, so there was that. But worst of all were some of the rude car drivers who toyed with us as we simply made our way home. Wherever possible Ninja got out of the way so that faster cars and bikes could pass us. But one car driver in particular started driving up our tailpipe and hooting at us to move aside even though there was no space to do so. Such arrogance just boils my blood! And as we got nearer the suburbs, there were several cars that just started pulling out of driveways in front of us as if we didn’t exist.
It was hair raising. On a bike one feels so exposed; accidents that would merely be fender benders in a car, on a bike would result in broken bones or worse. By the time we got home we were rather shaken up. When my nerves are on edge like that, nothing calms me like something sweet 😉 So we had some cherry jelly as we discussed the day’s events…
The trip gave me a new appreciation for the kind of dangers that my man faces on the bike each day. It also made me think about the ways in which going for a bike ride together is similar to being married:
1. You need to be fit for it. You use so many muscles and so much concentration to be a good rider or pillion passenger; it doesn’t happen without practice. In marriage you also need to work at a strong relationship; no one is naturally the perfect spouse.
2. There has to be a leader and a follower. Biking wouldn’t work if we both tried to take control and steer things our way, and neither does marriage. In God’s good design, he gave husbands and wives different but complementary roles.
3. You need to move as one. When Ninja leans into a corner, I have to trust him and copy his movements so that the bike stays balanced. In the same way, in marriage we need to make decisions together and move forward as one.
4. You need to look out for each other. Ninja warns me when to hold on tight or stand up for bumps in the road, and sometimes I help him by pointing out danger or directions. In our marriage we take care of each other in the same way.
5. You have to have a goal. A bike ride to nowhere is no fun, just as a marriage with no shared dreams and destinations lacks meaning.
6. You need to trust God for your journey. I never leave on a bike ride without praying for our safety, and in the same way marriages are protected when couples lift up their lives to the Lord.
7. There’s only space for two. Three people can’t fit on a motorbike, just as three’s a crowd in any marriage.
8. You need to know your limitations. Each bike is different, and each rider has different skill sets. Acting like you’re on a superbike when it’s really just a scooter will cause endless problems. And in marriage, comparing your unique circumstances to other couples around you will always leave you dissatisfied.
9. Hold on tight. Since we can’t talk to each other, we communicate with touches and squeezes during a bike ride. Which is not a bad idea for marriage, either 😉
10. It’s supposed to be fun! In bike riding as in marriage, make the most of every adventure and every opportunity to be together. You’re meant to enjoy the ride!