There’s something about sunshine and the Pacific Coast Highway that makes a motorcycle rider want to slow down and fill their senses.
San Diego is known for its perfect motorcycle riding weather and its plenitude of great motorcycle roads. But it’s also known having the best climate in the United States, with more sunny-and-70s afternoons per year than in any other country.
While the 2015 Indian Scout can produce a 100 horses from its 1133cc engine, a woman with only 2 years riding experience need not feel concerned. A leisurely pace under such pastoral conditions is still well within its capabilities. Even though a quick flip of the wrist can send it shooting off like a rice rocket, the Scout seems to know when I just want to be a lazy rider, and shifts through the gears smoothly and gently.
Riding through coastal towns of Del Mar, Encinitas, and Carlsbad, the smells of charbroiled burgers, greasy pepperoni pizzas, and sun tanning lotion fill the air. Nearly naked young men carry surf boards across the highway and girls wearing bikinis and Reeboks jog along the sides. If there’s ever a place where people feel comfortable in their own skin, it’s here along Southern California’s coast.
Meanwhile, I’m inspired by my friend Madhavi. She has this way of celebrating her biker-chick attitude while letting her style and femininity show through. I love her metallic flake red helmet. I love the scarf she wears around her neck. I love her boots, and her riding handbag. Even the way she’s customized her Honda Shadow pronounces her spirit and individualism.
In the past year I’ve ridden with her, I’ve managed to forget about trying to fit in with others, and focus on defining myself. I don’t want to wear the same helmet that other riders wear. I don’t want to wear the same boots, or the same jacket, or even the same sunglasses. I don’t even want to ride the same motorcycle.
I watch Madhavi ride up front and can tell she’s smiling even though I’m looking at the back of her helmet. It’s kind of like how guys can sit down at a bar together and have a conversation without speaking a word. It’s a profound understanding between two friends who’ve made a unique connection through their passion for riding.
Meanwhile, the connection I’ve developed with this Indian Scout continues to grow. Height-challenged as I am at just 4’11”, this bike has a light weight and low seat height that let’s me feel in charge. Yet at the same time, it offers the kind of power found only in larger motorcycles.
But on a sunny afternoon along the California coast, it remains patient and forgiving. I can slow it down, taking in deep breaths of salty sea air, and just be happy riding with my friend.