When my husband first asked if I was okay with him buying a Harley, I said, “Honey, I’m a romance writer.” Meaning, “Yes.”
First of all, he’d supported my dreams of writing, so I wanted to support his dream of riding.
Secondly, I thought riding a motorcycle would be like I’d written it in my books. Sam rides a Harley in the Resort to Love Series. Beau rides a Harley in The Princess and the P.I. I imagined us riding up into the mountains for breakfast with my hair flying behind me but never getting tangled. Basically, I’d romanticized the idea.
I didn’t know that Jim would grow a long gray beard, and he’d want me to take my own class to learn to ride, and the other women we rode with would be tough dump truck drivers. I didn’t know we’d go on nine-day rides and stay in hotels where they’d try to rent our group a cabin with dead cats underneath. I didn’t know there would be days so hot that we’d buy vests just to soak in cold water so we didn’t die of heat exhaustion. I didn’t know people at rest stops would say things like, “I hate bikers.”
I also didn’t know how inspiring it would be or that I’d have hours of uninterrupted daydreaming time. I came back from our trip to Utah with new characters, a plot, AND a plot twist.
See, one of the bikers I met is named “Crazy Bob.” In the 1960s, he had five daughters born by five different mothers within the span of one month. When I heard this, I immediately wondered what life was like for his daughters. Did they know they were related? Did they go to the same school? Did their moms hate each other?
After I told people this idea for a story, they often said, “Well, that can’t be Christian fiction.” But why not? Christianity is about redemption. So I began pondering…
I pondered while at a Memorial Ride for riders from our motorcycle club of police officers and fire fighters. I began thinking that the Crazy Bob character could have been a cop who infiltrated a biker gang for the FBI. If he went into the witness protection program with girlfriend #5 to protect their baby, he might never have known about his first four daughters. But he could have found out about them years later when he looked up his first true love on Facebook. They would have broken up because he’d been shot by a biker gang for being on their turf. When the FBI asked him to go undercover, she said she couldn’t stay with him knowing he could die any day, but he said he couldn’t live with himself if he didn’t do what he could to prevent others from getting hurt.
After the breakup and during his month as a “prospect” in the gang, he went a little dark and gave into his lust and loneliness. He felt horrible when he found out he left four daughters behind. He wanted to reach out, but he discovered they all thought they were better off without him. On his deathbed, he confessed to the biker nicknamed “Chaplain” and said he wanted to will his Harley to the granddaughter of his first love under the condition that she went on the Memorial Ride with Chaplain. She was a reporter, and he thought that if she went on the ride, she’d start digging into the truth about his past and tell all his daughters that he never meant to leave them. That he’d only wanted to make the world a better place by putting a lot of criminals in jail.
Thus, this book becomes a time-split novel. Tori has her own financial issues that force her to go on a ride to inherit the Harley. She never realized meeting Chaplain and learning about Crazy Bob would affect her own life.
This isn’t the normal romance I write, but when I mentioned it to my reading group, they loved the idea. Then I went on my ride to The Grand Canyon, and the story grew even larger in my heart. There is so much symbolism with the way water creates rock formations. It’s also the wild west, which fits riding iron steeds. And with the tangible presence of Mormonism in Utah, it would be weird NOT to discuss religion/baptism/confession.
I’m not sure where this will fall in my lineup of books I want to write, but it’s been fun to look up stories of undercover FBI agents in past biker gangs. My hubby is interested in this too, so I’ve been reading articles out loud to him, and he’s been weighing in. I wouldn’t mind doing more riding research either. Though we rode through Utah for nine days, there was still SO MUCH MORE to see.
What are your thoughts on motorcycles? Have you ridden? Do you know someone who rides? Do you have any bad experiences? Or are motorcycles romanticized in your mind the way they were in mine?
Answer one of the questions above, then if you want to see how I’ve written about motorcycles in the past, you can get download The Princess and the P.I. for FREE here.
kim hansen says
Yes bad experience on a motorcycle ride years ago.
Angela Ruth Strong says
I’m sorry. That’s usually why people sell their bikes.
I’ve never owned or driven a motorcycle, but I have known many who ride and some who have chosen to minister to those who ride. Living in the D.C. area, I have a warm spot in my heart for “Rolling Thunder” which is an annual Memorial Day ride for bikers who honor veterans as they meet on the National Mall at the various veterans memorials.
I had one memorable experience in graduate school as a rider, though. I had a friend from one of the oil countries in the middle east. A racing-style cycle was one of his many “toys”. He offered to give me a ride back to my dorm one day. He opened it up, weaved between lanes and generally tried to give me an extra dose of adrenaline if not actual fright.
I kind of expected the ride that I got and I had an intuitive sense for keeping my balance and “going with the flow”. He was quite pleased that I handled it so well. Could I do it again? Not a chance. I’ll stick with an Electra-Glide and the speed limit, thanks! :-)
I love the pictures of your trip. You mentioned the symbolism seen in the way water works in forming the canyon. That is so powerful to me because I have learned to think of it in terms, not of gradual erosion, but of the catastrophic flow of massive amounts of water (Noah’s flood, anyone?). Sometimes the world of sin in which we live just washes over us, overwhelms us and leaves us gutted.
After some time has passed, perhaps we can look back (like Crazy Bob, maybe?) and see a stark beauty spread out before us that allows us to return home with a sense of awe and hope. We might not be able to live in that scorching land but God is there. Even in that devastation, He is sovereign, trustworthy and wise. And that is true whether I understand His ways or not. That is the kind of symbolism that makes me think, “If God can bring His good purpose out of that kind of devastation, my life could be mended. And maybe, just maybe, my life could be made to bring Him praise.”
Thanks for sharing about your experience and new story idea, Angela. Roll on!
Angela Ruth Strong says
Wow! I love every bit of this!!! Thank you for sharing.
Hi Angela! Informative post. In college I road on the back of a motor cycle. Not my style. Retired hubby and I tease that we on back road trips we have 4 / 60 air-conditioning. Weather permitting we roll down the windows and open the moon roof to feel the wind our hair and sun on our face. We love creature comforts on hot days – the AC.
Bad motor cycle experience was also in college, before helmet laws when a member of my Bible Study group was killed in a motor cycle accident. Devastating to have life cut short and made me cautious in riding. As Lincoln mentioned, a colleague rides his motorcycle yearly for Vietnam Veterans. We have many motorcycle groups in the Midwest that ride for Memorial Day, etc. From the 1970s been aware of different motorcycle groups for Jesus – truckers, pastors, cops, and more. Best wishes on your adventures. The Grand Canyon is breath taking. Happy Writing.
Angela Ruth Strong says
I love memorial rides. And I pray for Jim’s safety all the time. You’re definitely more vulnerable on a bike. Enjoy those air conditioned drives!
Kimberly Rose Johnson says
Does a dirt bike motorcycle count? If so, I rode one for about a minute before almost crashing. My friend forgot to tell me where the brake was. PTL she was on the back and managed to stop the bike before we ran into the side of a parked car.
Yes, I know lots of people who ride.
Angela Ruth Strong says
Ack! Glad you’re okay. I took a class, and it was stressful. I’m happy to ride behind my husband.
Linda Palmer says
My first ride on the back of a motorcycle ruined it for me. My brother didn’t shift down to stop and I fell off and skinned my knees badly. It wasn’t many years after in my early 20’s that I was diagnosed with knee arthritis. Which eventually years later ended up being knee replacements. Riding a motorcycle there’s not much protection if you’re in an accident, so I don’t care for them.
Angela Ruth Strong says
True. Glad your accident wasn’t worse, but that IS scary. We have lots of protective gear, but it’s still good to be super cautious.
Laurie Larsen says
Oh my gosh, what a great story! When I was in my early twenties, living in a rented house, a friend asked me if he could store his motorcycle (a Honda … something or other) in my garage while he went away for the Army. I said sure. Then he said, “You need to learn how to ride it to keep the engine from going bad.” I immediately imagined buying a shiny white jacket (think Pinky Tuscadero except white), a helmet, and riding the cycle every few days. I’d look so cool. Right?
As it turned out, the first lesson he gave me I dropped while astride, it landed on my calf and I couldn’t lift it on my own. End of daydream about becoming a motorcycle rider.
Angela Ruth Strong says
Oh man! I dumped a bike during my lesson too. Thankfully it was in a class where the motorcycles were little and had special protection on them for people like me. You can still get that leather jacket though. ;-)
Alicia Haney says
Hi Angela, your motorcycle story sounds like a great read! I have always loved motorcycles. When I started dating my husband(been married to him for 44 yrs now) he had just sold his motorcycle he had . Well not too long after we started dating he bought a motorcycle.. When I got pregnant with our first he sold it and we got a car. So a year and a half after our daughter was born we had our son, so we were now a little family. Our daughter was about 7 yrs old and our son was about 5 and a half when my husband got another motorcycle. He tried to teach me how to drive the motorcycle, but my legs were too short and the motorcycle was pretty heavy, so I settled for riding behind him when we did go for rides. When our son turned 14 my husband decided to sell the motorcycle because he didn’t want our son to drive one because they can be dangerous. So that was the end of the motorcycle days. I have a brother and a sister who both drive motorcycles, they have Harleys and they love them. Motorcycles are alot of fun but you sure do have to be extra careful when riding one, alot of people in vehicles aren’t careful enough and looking out for motorcycles, sad but true. You keep on riding with your husband and enjoy it, I love motorcycles. Have a great rest of the week and stay safe my friend. God Bless you and your family. Keep on writing books with motorcycles in them.
Natalya Lakhno says
This sounds interesting!
When I met my hubby he had a street bike ;) and yes I enjoyed the feeling of his strong back while we rode together. We sold it after our second child was born – I was too worried of him getting into an accident.
Now we have a boat – so all family can enjoy it together ;)
Jessica B. says
My dad had a motorcycle when I was young and I think I got to ride on it with him through the neighborhood once or twice before he sold it. I am very aware of the potential for danger though.
Margaret Bunce says
Your story idea sounds amazing! And the real Crazy Bob – well, you can’t even imagine a scenario like that!! Lots of motorbike clubs here in Australia, not to be confused with bikie gangs, which also exist, of course, and give all bike riders a bad name. I have friends who ride. Not my personal choice! Had a 50cc Honda once….lol.
I have ridden on the back of a motorbike (not a Harley). I have ridden a couple on a farm.
Mum rode on the back of one in Melbourne during the war with someone from one side to the other.
Our neighbours were in a group called the Ulysses Club for riders over 40. (they were in their 50’s at the time) and would go on rides. It all changed when she started a ride from her place and ended up in the neighbours fence as something went wrong. She would ride on the back with her husband but no on her own after that.
I probably wouldn’t like to go to far on one but its fine for others.
Mary Preston says
I have no intention of ever riding a motorcycle. Sounds too dangerous for me.
Lisa R. Howeler says
My husband was hit by a motorcycle while riding his bicycle as a kid. The motorcyclist flipped out on him even though the guy wasn’t looking where he was going and turned into his path. Luckily my husband was okay. Sadly, he got yelled at by his mom too. She isn’t a nice woman so it’s not a suprise.
Good luck selling that book in Christian fiction. I was scolded this week for mentioning much tamer topics in my book this week. Still, I would read your book!
My mom once rode a motorcycle when she was a teenager, but it was other times, less busy and quiet streets.
Debra J Pruss says
This is such a mixed question/answer. I have been on the back of a bike once or twice. It was not something my parents were pleased about. I have a good friend who just lost her son in the last two months while riding his Harley. A woman who should not have been driving ran a stop sign. He sustained multiple injuries including injuries to his head. He ended up dying a few days later from the brain trama. We have rival motorcycle gangs in our city. It is not always pleasant. I have to admit that I do not feel comfortable following a motorcycle. I am always afraid that they are going to lose control and crash in front of me. I feel the same way about some drivers on the road in cars and trucks. I wish more people wore helmets when they ride their motorcycles. I feel it is a safety issue.
Debra J Pruss says
I have been on the back of a bike once or twice. It was not something my parents were pleased about. I have a good friend who just lost her son in the last two months while riding his Harley. A woman who should not have been driving ran a stop sign. He sustained multiple injuries including injuries to his head. He ended up dying a few days later from the brain trama. We have rival motorcycle gangs in our city. It is not always pleasant. I have to admit that I do not feel comfortable following a motorcycle. I am always afraid that they are going to lose control and crash in front of me. I feel the same way about some drivers on the road in cars and trucks. I wish more people wore helmets when they ride their motorcycles. I feel it is a safety issue.
I’ve ridden on a motorcycle a few times when I was a teen. My dad’s friend had one and used to give us kids rides around the block. I’ve never driven one & am absolutely terrified of them today. My husband wants a Harley, but I’m not really sure I want him to have one because he’d ask me to ride with him……and that’s something I really don’t want to do! Yikes bikes!
Years ago when we lived in a different town, we had a church friend of ours who had just gotten his motorcycle license and training. He went out for a ride with some friends of his and ended up in an accident (the bike trapped him under it and slid to a stop) & he almost died! Its horror stories like this that makes me extremely hesitant to ride or drive one. I’m happy to admire a motorcycle, especially Harley’s, from afar!
Marylin Furumasu says
This sounds so good! I didn’t know you had already thought of so much of the story! WOW! Now I want to read it!
As for your question, Yes I’ve ridden on a motorcycle. When my husband and I were dating he had one and took me on a ride. I’m not a good rider. I am the kind who lean the opposite so it wasn’t really fun. SCARY!
The sweet part of my story is that my husband (then boyfriend) actually sold his motorcycle so he could buy me an engagement ring! Isn’t that so SWEET! I just love him! Now 38 and 3/4th years later we still love each other!
I’ve never been on a motorcycle before but my brother got one a couple years ago. We weren’t real happy at first, thinking it too dangerous, but he enjoys it so much. He says when he rides he doesn’t have to think about anything else but just driving his motorcycle. I think this sounds like a wonderful storyline!
My brother rides.