Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Riding With An Apostle

My teenager-rooted dreams of being dangerous, rebellious and cool were lived out in a simple 2 1/2 hour motorbike ride on the back of a Harley.  I donned a black bandana over my hair in attempt to cover up my urban-housewife/soccer mom persona, and glared a little at the camera as my husband took a snapshot before I put on my motorcycle jacket and helmet.

My brother is part of a Christian motorcycle "gang" called the Apostles and has the leather jacket with their symbol boldly proclaiming his elite status.  He also has all the proper gear: leather chaps, a cool skull-cap style helmet with skulls decorating it,  along with tattoos and earrings to further enhance his already tough demeanor (which is hardly required in the first place, considering his build and height).  Now, for the unfortunate part.  Before I popped onto the Harley behind him, my husband dutifully (and with moderate concern) wanted to ensure my safety and dressed me in his sporty motorcycle jacket that has a protective interior designed to help in the event of a crash.  I also wore his full-face helmet (much safer than my brother's type of helmet).  Basically, I was the preppy version of a biker - more like a causal, city biker who rides around on Hondas instead of Harleys (this being the type of bike that is often known as  a "crotch rocket"), and I did not look the part of being a member of a dangerous biker gang.

Yet, I was still caught up in the excitement as I climbed behind my big brother and he took the bike from 0-50 km in about 4 seconds (or so it felt) as we raced away from my pretty little life on our quiet city street.  I was on the back of a Harley.  I was one of "them".  Soon I forgot my own attire, and melted into the black leather in front of me, my eyes drinking in the sight of blurring vehicles and trees beside us, my ears filled with the roar of the bike and the wind that whipped against my helmet.

After an enjoyable ride on the highway, we entered Calgary and from time to time passed other bikers on the road.  I felt a sense of haughty pride as my brother signaled a nonchalont two finger salute/wave to the other tough bikers as we swept past each other.  We were the cool bikers now!  At one point, we stopped at a traffic light and I peered over at the passengers of the car next to us.  They seemed to avert their gaze, intent on looking forward and not messing with the biker dude... and me, of course!

Really, I've often felt the same way - I mean, who wants to incur the wrath of a biker?  What if he's a Hell's Angel and you look at him the wrong way, and he takes you down?  Usually, I'm just a petite, casually dressed "soccer mom" (not that my kids play soccer", but I drive the mini-van) and if you were to pick the most vulnerable looking target, that just might be me!  Not that I'm vulnerable... I've got some street smarts, I'm tough, and I wouldn't go without a fight.  Yet... that little sense of caution and niggling fear occasionally creeps in whenever I pull up to a group of bikers on the road or in the parking lot of 7-11.  But for now, if only for a few hours... I was one of them!

As the passenger, I didn't have a lot of say concerning the direction we were headed - I figured we were on our way to my brother's house to get some rest before our big trip to Ottawa.  Yet, he suddenly took a detour from the route towards his house and went off the main drag and soon we were swerving through traffic in the sketchy part of Calgary (Dover, of all neighborhoods).  I began to wonder just what was in store.  We turned down an alley and screamed to the end of it, stopping behind a group of fourplexes... you know, just the kind of neighborhood where pleasant middle-class families and their sweet children live (NOT!).  My brother parked,  nonchalantly eased his burly, bad-ass, leather-clad-self off of the bike and told me he'd be back in a couple minutes.  I watched as he approached a nearby house and was rightfully disturbed and filled with concern at the sight of a large biker-dude who opened his door and started to talk to my brother. "Crap!"  I thought... "I sure hope this guy doesn't mess with my bro.." but that thought was interuppted swiftly when the tough biker dude, whom I thought was a pretty big guy, stepped off of the porch onto the sidewalk next to my brother and I could then see that my brother was a good 6 inches and 60 pounds bigger than him!  "Ha ha..." I chuckled to myself with relief, "I'm with the big guy!"

So apparently this dude was a friend, and my brother chatted with him for a few more moments before returning to his Harley (and me, his little sister).  Once again, he started his bike with a tremendous roar, and we raced off to... home?

Again, we were headed in the right direction, and I relaxed, thinking that this ride was nearly complete.  Then, the unexpected happened: just ahead of us, in the parking lot of an A&W was a crowd of bikers.  Black leather dominated the terrain with big bikes, new bikes and older antique bikes decorating the lot.  At first, I was mildly curious about this event.  After all, I was the passenger on the back of a pretty sweet ride.  The more I looked around though, the more concerned I became as I suddenly realized that I wasn't one of them.  I was the preppy kid caught up in a crowd of metal-heads.  I was the cat, lost in a dog-pound.  Everyone, and I mean everyone else was wearing black leather and I had my safety suit - nylon black and blue jacket with the full-face helmet.  It's like when the neighborhood kids are out playing street hockey and your mom makes you wear all the padding and safety gear from head to toe and everyone else is just in shorts and t-shirts.  Suddenly I didn't feel quite so cool and the thrill of my previous journey evaded me.  I'm good at putting on a facade however, so I just played the part and followed my brother around as he talked shop to the other bikers.  It wasn't too long before we sought a bite to eat in the A&W and I eventually forgot my discomfort.

That pretty much concludes my stint as a biker-chick.  If there was any lesson to be learned, it would be this:

When you're riding behind the right person, you've got nothing to worry about.  Believe me, they're looking at the big guy in front of you, especially since you are a shrimp compared to him.  It doesn't matter if you don't have it all together.  It doesn't matter if you don't feel tough enough, strong enough, smart enough... just relax and let the driver do the swift maneuvering and aggressive driving (all the while being street-wise with the proper dialogue and secret hand signals), and you'll be fine.

If you haven't put two and two together yet, I'm relating my experience to life with Jesus.  To put it simply, when you put Him in charge of your life, you're like the passenger on the back of a Harley.  You can rest in the fact that it's His reputation and strength and ability that will get you where you need to go.  Just grab onto the smooth, black leather in front of you and enjoy the ride.


RICK said...

LOVE IT!!!!!

mzdjo said...

Love your honesty, sometimes we all think we are tough and big, but the truth is it's all Jesus and because of Him, we can feel secure. Thanks Lisa.