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Rebuilding a Dream

30 years ago I built a '72 Sportster in my Dad's garage. I rode it for a couple of years, and unfortunately was forced to sell it. I never rode again for 25 years. Last year I met the bike of my dreams, a 2002 Heritage Softail Classic, FLSTC/I, completely customized to look like a ’62 panhead, with a ’62 Thunderbird blue paint. I cried when I saw her. I found the way to get the dough, had to get my license again, didn't even have a place to park her. I didn't care. Buying this bike to me was getting my life back. I always had that one regret about selling my Sporty, and I never thought I'd be able to change that regret into reality. But some things are just meant to be, and last summer I rode Judy Blue over 7,000 km's. It was the happiest summer of my life. (Other than when my daughter was born. Oh, and my three grandchildren!)

In August of 2013 I decided to ride around Lake Huron. I left home on a Saturday morning and crossed into the U.S. at Port Huron. I rode up the Lake Huron coast in Michigan, stopping in Rosscommon to see my dear friends, The Official Blues Brothers Revue. I had just rode 500 km’s and was hot and sweaty and shaking and walked into the Green Room and surprised everybody – they couldn’t believe I had just rode in from London, Ontario. The show was awesome, as it always is, and we all caught up on life stuff late into the night.

The next day I crossed Northern Michigan and headed to Traverse City. I met a lot of bikers on the way - all awesome people, from everywhere. One couple told me about the Tunnel of Trees, and that I HAD to see it. Since my only mission was to ride around Lake Huron (which I already strayed from), I headed for Hwy. 119. I stayed in Petoskey for the night, and the next day rode through the Tunnel of Trees. At a clearing on the road I met a group of bikers from Toledo, Ohio. We all decided to go to Leg’s together for lunch – a ‘must do that’ stop. Lunch was a blast. It was wonderfully hot outside, the food was incredible – home made Polish menu – and the view over Lake Michigan made me feel like I was exactly where I was supposed to be. We said our good bye’s and I never saw them again. I headed up the Lake Michigan coast and crossed over to Mackinaw City.

My Mom had told me about Mackinac Island a long time ago, and that if I ever had the chance to go I should take it. I left my bike under a street lamp beside the guard shack at Arnold Ferries, jumped on the boat, and never looked back. I just trusted the wonderful folks there. (Why not? Our names are the same!) I spent the night on the island and when I got back to the mainland the next day, there was Big Blue, waiting for the next ride. I gave the security folks some home-made fudge from the island and was on my way.

Day four was spent riding from Mackinaw to Manitoulin Island. It took me eight hours. Every time I stopped for gas, it took at least an hour. Bikes draw people together. So many people shared their stories with me about their own bikes, and why “I’m not riding today because…” What a beautiful ride that was from Espanola through the mountain area of Hwy. 6 onto Manitoulin Island. I spent three days there in a very cool hostel called The Auberge Inn in Providence Bay. I rode around the whole island, visiting the Manitoulin Women’s Memorial, Bridal Falls, Buoy’s Eatery, the local artisan shops, and the marinas.

I took the ferry to Tobermory - that was so cool riding my bike onto a boat - I love being on the water. My last day was spent riding along the shore of Lake Huron and making my way back home to London. I didn't want it to be over – it was epic. When I started out I didn't think much of riding 2,000 km's by myself. I thought anybody did that. About three days into the ride it started hitting me, like when I'd talk to a friendly stranger and they'd say, "You're alone???". I know I gave some people a chuckle, and I also know I gave some people the courage to perhaps realize their own dreams.

A grandmother, riding through Michigan by herself, with an Ontario license plate, made people's heads turn. I spoke with many people at stop lights - they'd give me a thumb's up, or tell me how beautiful my bike was. As my dear friend says, "You could be a monkey riding that bike, and they'll only notice the bike". It really is a nice bike. But I can take no credit - I bought her exactly as she sits today. I just enjoy the ride.

Since I’ve been riding again, my life has changed. Not just because of the bike, but because biking itself was something I loved since I was a teenager. I’ve returned to my ‘self’. I was away for a long time, but I’m back, with confidence, and it’s fantastic!

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