Remember the CB radio (may it rest in peace)? I sure do, and I miss it terribly.
My handle was Lady Silver Bullet. Yes, seriously. LSB was another way of saying speed demon. All the truckers in and around Tampa, Fla., and all the “county Mounties,” “plain brown wrappers” and “bubble gum machines” (police) knew me. I would get on the CB on my way to work, on my way to the market, on the way to anywhere.
I met some fascinating folks via my CB. I could rely on the truckers should I ever be in trouble: “Breaker, breaker, 1-9” and help was on the way.
Cellphones and texting are not the same. Boring!
CBs were verboten when riding a motorcycle; my hands were busy keeping me alive.
Bike riding, on the other hand, was never about speed or friendship. Bike riding was a way to feel the wind on my face, enjoy the gifts of nature and squeeze in a little exercise. Those ridiculously expensive bikes with 10 or more speeds that became the rage in the late ’60s were not my cup of tea.
We moved to Atlanta, and a few things changed. The most traumatic was the loss of my CB; it was not all the rage in Atlanta.
Gene and my girls and I started bike riding for fun. Then Gene and daughter No. 2 started entering races. The most insane were the 150-mile ride across Georgia and the 50-mile MS rides. I was happy to join them at the end of the race, cheering them along.
I was also happy to join them in more manageable races and rides; I won first place in one. OK, only three people were in my division, but I did come in first.
Gene and I traveled to many lovely towns, especially the Highlands; I showed my support for Gene as he rode with hundreds of other crazy people up and down the mountains. I stayed behind and rode around the flattest area of town. I’m pretty sure I never broke a sweat.
Finally, after many discussions, Gene convinced me this one particular ride in Cashiers was mostly flat with some hills. I loved the flat part; the hills, not so much. I decided to step out of my comfort zone and accepted the challenge.
We drove up to Cashiers on a Friday afternoon and checked into a sweet little bed and breakfast. The next morning, hundreds of bikers of all shapes, ages, sexes and colors milled around. Some should have chosen to wear anything other than biking clothes, if you get my meaning.
By 7 a.m., everyone was lined up and ready to put the mettle to the pedal. All the riders were stretching, sipping water, checking and rechecking tires. The rest stops all had bananas, water and healthy bars.
Finally, it was time to head out. I strategically placed myself toward the back of the pack, to make it a bit of a challenge for the real riders to mow me down. Gene, a strong, experienced rider, was a gentleman and stayed with me and the other slowpokes.
Did I mention I was terrified of heights? By the by, I am no longer height-challenged, a story for another time.
It was time for the back of the pack to put mettle to the pedals.
For the first few hundred feet the terrain was fairly flat, with trees and shrubs hugging both sides of the road. As we turned the left, all heck broke loose. The flat turned into the hill, and I realized we were heading straight up a mountain, the brush and trees no longer hugging the road. I promptly moved to the middle of the road and rode on the double solid yellow line. Trust me when I say my little feet were furiously working the pedals. I was close to panic, my fear of heights consuming me. One man’s hill was this woman’s mountain.
Where was my CB when I needed it?
My hubby yelled: “You’ll be killed if you ride in the middle of the road. With the severe turns up ahead, trucks and cars will not see you.”
I responded: “I would rather be killed by a truck then fall down the mountain.”
Fortunately, the sag van was not far behind me. (Sorry, I have no clue what sag means; they are emergency vehicles.)
The heroes driving the van, realizing my paralyzing fear, saved me from a sure death. They drove me and my bike to safety.
Wondering about the gentleman (Gene) who chose to ride with the slowpokes? Wonder no more: He headed for the hills.