Linda Milo’s relationship with motorcycling has woven itself around her closest relationships, including with herself.
Trained as a Registered Nurse, Linda, now fifty-one, works as a clinical educator supporting the introduction of new medical products into health care settings.
“I started riding in 2004 when the man I was married to got a Harley. I sat on a very uncomfortable seat on the back, but it didn’t matter. I was riding. When the marriage ended, I moved to Calgary, a city I’d always wanted to live in. “Newly single, I made a deal that I’d challenge myself every month. Two months later, I was at Calgary’s Too Cool Motorcycle School, learning to ride and getting over the embarrassment of a failed marriage. At the end of the sessions, we donned our bright orange safety vests and rode to Banff, and I felt a huge sense of accomplishment.”
By the time spring arrived, Linda had purchased a Honda Shadow, but forgotten “everything I learned.” Her brother, also a rider, told her she was too timid and took her out on a “skills improvement” ride. “He stopped on a hill, then took off and left me there. I needed that and learned a lot from my time with him.
“Todd and I met online, attracted by our mutual love of riding. I’d mostly used my Shadow for errands around Calgary and was really glad to meet someone who’d introduce me to more adventuresome riding. Over the next ten years we did a lot of traveling and camping and I traded my Honda for the Harley I’d always wanted. When we broke up, I didn’t know if I’d continue riding and sold my Harley.”
Linda kept her Schuberth helmet, though, and her latent interest in riding took her to the bike show in 2013. “Rene was there, as were the BMW sales people. The seeds of interest in travel to Africa, planted when I’d read The University of Gravel roads four years earlier, began to germinate. “By the first week of February, I had a BMW F800ST, which my brother trailered home to wait out winter in storage.”
More than two years after their relationship ended, Todd texted her in April. With their romance rekindled, they began traveling together again. “We went to the Grand Canyon and rode the Oregon coast. Our best dates were filling a thermos of tea and going to the mountains.”
Then they started planning their Victoria Falls to Cape Town trip. Both had concerns about what the food would be like, whether they’d be sick, and what the others on the trip would be like.
“Not a day went by that I didn’t look forward to having dinner with those people at the end of the day. Everyone had their personal battles, but you connect as a team, having each other’s backs. Twenty-one days together does that. There’s a real caring and everyone’s willing to share and help each other out. It wasn’t like business meetings where by the second night, dinner together is passé.
Linda learned to ride on gravel in Africa. “I knew the principles and the guys who were really savvy with gravel taught us more on the way in. I may have bitten off more than I could chew but showing fear wouldn’t have helped. I took deep breaths, coached myself, and trusted the bike. “The people on the trip opened things up for me. I’d always said I was hanging up riding when I was fifty-five. Now I’m reconsidering.”
Shortly after they returned, Linda and Todd parted ways again, but this time, Linda doesn’t see it ending her riding days. “You round the bend and realize that life goes on, eventually for the better. I can join riding groups or ride on my own. I’d only be limiting myself if I stopped.
“Wouldn’t it be cool to say I rode a bike on every continent?”
Photo credits: Linda Milo