Hudson Valley on a Harley

A mid-life crisis “toy” pays unexpected dividends



Illustration by Chris Reed

It’s been more years than I care to disclose since my husband and I decided to put down roots in the prettiest place we knew — the Hudson Valley. Let’s just say our youngest turned one the month we moved here, and now he’s older than we were at his first birthday bash.

We’ve climbed the Valley’s hills and mountains, visited its farms and estates, walked along waterfronts, and even have had a few spectacular sailboat rides on the river. We’ve explored on foot, on bicycles, on boats, on skis, and in cars.

And in all that time, I never imagined I’d ever zip around the Valley on a motorcycle. Yet, there I was not long ago, perched on the back of a hog as we snaked through the traffic on Woodstock’s main drag, then zigzagged around the wilds of Ulster County for the most gorgeous Sunday ride ever.

By “hog,” I don’t mean one that squeals and produces bacon. I mean a big, bad-ass Harley that looks like it was meant to carry a couple of people much, much cooler than we are, ever have been, or ever will be.

While we zoomed around, I couldn’t help but ask: “Who the heck am I?” A year ago, if anybody had given me a peek into the future and I’d seen us on that motorcycle, I’d have said the crystal ball was cracked. Sure, my husband had been hinting at getting this “toy” for years. And all I had to do was point to our adorable kids and the stack of money that literally flew out the window for shoes and braces and food and clothing and... well, you get the picture.

But the years passed, the kids flew the coop, and my argument deflated like a three-day-old party balloon.

“Fine,” I huffed. “Get it out of your system. But don’t think I am getting on that thing.”

“Okay,” he said. “I’m going to motorcycle school, and you should come to the dealership with me.”

I relented. Within 10 minutes of stepping into the showroom, I saw at least four other middle-aged couples — all as uncool as we are — browsing around. Correction: The guys were panting their way through the place; the women followed, looking as clueless as I looked.

That’s when I decided: If this was his mid-life crisis in action, then I was going along for the ride.

I headed over to the helmet section and picked out a doozy. I bought a black jacket — it’s not leather, I’m working up to that — plus cool biker boots. I’ve drawn the line at getting a tattoo because our kids would be even more humiliated than they already are about the whole thing. (Their own college-era tattoos have not been mentioned; I am holding onto that little bit of ammunition for future use.)

“I just spotted Tim and Kara talking to each other on Facebook about us,” I reported to my husband one night. “They are laughing about us and the motorcycle.”

“Really?” he said. “We should have done this years ago!”

So far, his mid-life crisis solution is turning out well for both of us. We’re having fun together, seeing our old stomping grounds in a new way, and embarrassing our grown-up children.

Does it get any better than that?

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