What makes your heart sing? This question is at the heart of the Lilly’s Clergy Renewal grant application. I had a pretty definite idea how to answer it for myself.
I picked up the motorcycle a couple of days ago from Philip McCallen’s motorbike shop in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, just south of Belfast. Owing to screwy insurance laws in the Republic of Ireland, it made the most sense to rent the bike in the United Kingdom.
After doing some research, I chose to rent a Triumph two-cylinder 900 cc bike. The two bikes I’ve owned have been old school Hondas – early 1970s – a 350cc I road when we lived in Washington, and a 125cc that I have in South Haven – a gift from a friend who got me back into riding. (Thanks, Walt!). The riding posture on all three bikes is nearly identical.
Jonathon at McCallen’s could not have been more helpful. First he got me fitted out with Kevlar riding pants, jacket and gloves. In addition to the abrasion protection, there are also lightweight “plates” at the shoulder, elbows and knees. He also set me up with a full faced helmet and visor, luggage – the small bag you see in the photo – and an identical one on the other side. We then spent about 45 minutes going over the SatNav guidance system – an aid that has been essential for keeping me found and for its ability to accurately display the roadway for 300 to 400 yards. The SatNav results in the driver not having to stop and read road signs every few miles with a map taped to the fuel tank.
And lastly, we reviewed the operation of the motorcycle. McCallen’s has a block square driving course, and he encouraged me to take as much time as I needed to get used to the bike. Like gun shops, motorcycle garages and stores are testosterone-rich environments. Perhaps its age and maturity, but guns and motorcycles are scary dangerous, and I’ve got to let go of what other guys think of me and my abilities. I took a good half-hour getting a feel for how it rides.
That afternoon I road to the small port city of Larne along mostly empty country lanes.
That night I stayed at a little tradesman’s hotel just a few blocks from the port. It felt like the place you’d go if you’re on the lam and want to fly below the radar screen. The owner, Mrs. Marylyn Muir, is from Scotland, closing in on 90, whip-thin and stronger than I am. After I checked in, Marylyn walked out to check out the motorcycle.
“Mind, this isn’t a bad area. Not at all. But I think ye would feel better if we put it off the street.” Whereupon she directed me to a 10 foot high wall with a serious sliding iron door as high as the wall at the side of the building. I pulled the bike into her walled area where I found her garage and pulled it in. I went over to close the gate trying to save her the labor, but I struggled to move it more than a foot or two. Marylyn nearly pushes me out of the say – like she’s Super Girl – puts her back to the pillar it’s hanging from, and gives it a good shove. I kid you not.
If I didn’t feel like a sissy at the bike shop, I certainly did at that moment in the company of bonny Marylyn Muir.