It was a deep shade of black when it was new and had that wonderful rich smell of leather. Ten years later the black has faded to dark gray from thousands of hours in the sun, wind, heat and cold as well as the occasional pounding from a rain squall and a few beers I lost control of. It has been desecrated by bugs, bird crap and even the blood of one wild turkey that chose to leap up from the side of the road and die in its subsequent collision with my crash bar and knee. The rich leather smell has faded to a road smell that is a combination of dust, oil and the open air of too many roads to count.
The Jacket weighs damn near 10 pounds and has more pockets, snaps, vents and zippers than the rest of my wardrobe combined. Long scrapes in the leather show on the left arm and shoulder, acquired as it protected me during an unscheduled visit we paid to an asphalt surface when I took a turn too fast and slid into a curb. Those leather scrapes serve as a reminder to me to ride safely and within myself. Over 140,000 miles The Jacket has ridden with me, across the country and back twice as well as through virtually every western state multiple times while protecting my body from the elements and injury.
It’s an old friend, The Jacket. I occasionally look at new jackets in motorcycle magazines or stores but it is hard to part with that supple old leather that I have cleaned and oiled so faithfully over the years. It feels so familiar to slide my arms into its sleeves and zip up that big front zipper, knowing I am about to embark on another road to freedom from life’s day to day routines. We take for granted many of the things in our lives that provide support, enjoyment and warmth. The grass often looks greener on the other side of the hill, but I think I’ll stick with The Jacket as it has stuck with me through the sun and rain and miles. You don’t give up on something or someone that never gives up on you.