MotorcycleMy husband bought a motorcycle. Motorcycles aren’t new to him; he’s owned one kind or another for years. But recently, after a spell without a two-wheeled toy, his pupils began to glow like chrome halogen headlamps, and he ordered a Yamaha FJR 1300, which came in last week.

I haven’t seen him since.

It’s not that he rides every day. True, he spends a good chunk of his weekends in desolate places like the Saltan Sea and Brawley, CA. But riding, I’ve learned, is only a fraction of the time motorcycle ownership requires. The rest is this activity I call meta-biking.

Put simply, meta-biking is any activity surrounding the activity of motorcycle ownership. As such, meta-biking is thinking, talking, dreaming, or reading about the bike. It includes maintaining, polishing, testing, analyzing, or buying after-market parts for it, too. Here’s what I mean.
The week my husband brought the bike home, he joined an e-mail list for people who ride FJR 1300s. His support group established, he bought and studied the FJR 1300 Operation and Maintenance Manual. Then he washed and waxed the bike. (He explained that the shiny new paint the factory put on isn’t designed to endure harsh environmental elements-like sun, and wind.) He changed the oil at exactly 600 miles, just like the manufacturer recommends. At 1400 miles, he gave the bike its first tune-up. When my husband’s e-mail buddies helped him realize how incomplete his FJR 1300 is off the factory floor, he ordered handlebar risers and something called a Throttlemeister(tm), which acts like a cruise control for motorcycles. (Who knew?)

I can’t be sure, but I think meta-biking-or any meta-hobby, for that matter-is a guy thing. I’ve never seen a woman indulge such a fanaticism about something like quilting. Or cooking. Or child-rearing.

Still, I’m glad my husband’s happy. I like that we’re a couple who keeps separate interests. It’s good for the marriage.

I do miss the guy, though-so much, in fact, that I began to wonder: Wouldn’t it be nice if we spent some time alone together … without the bike or any of its accoutrements nearby?

I decided to find out. This evening, as the moon glimmered in the sky like a big silver hubcap, I went outside and found my husband bent over the motorcycle, his toolkit open beside him on the driveway. Sidling up to him, I wrapped my arms around his waist. Then I wondered aloud if he wanted to ride something other than the bike tonight.

He said he might, right after he installed the custom seat that just arrived.

I told him I wouldn’t wait up.