Bologna, mid-day, early 2019. I was going through the motions of preparing to take off out of a government office parking lot. Final check before the ride, all zippers closed, communication system on, ok, time to put on the helmet.
Suddenly, I hear a feeble voice from behind me. "Nice bike". I turn around, surprised at the unexpected comment. You see, I'm used to hearing this, but the voice seemed suspiciously young.
"Excuse me?" I barked at the onlooker, still with the aggressive expression stamped upon my face from a morning spent waiting in line for some paperwork.
"I said, you've got a really nice bike there" the teenager uttered, pointing at the café racer inspired SV650 X-ter I was getting ready to ride. He was getting on his bicycle, smartphone in one hand, earphones in the other. "I thought it's gonna be a dude's bike".
I looked at the teenager with a smile starting to spread across my face. I didn't get into details, that it wasn't actually my bike, that I was a motorcycle blogger, that I had to return it to Suzuki soon. I only said "well, here you go, you get to broaden your perception!"
To which the teenager, that, I was rapidly realising was about half my age, replied: "well, it's almost better that a girl rides it."
It came out so quiet I could barely hear it, as often happens when teenagers try to say something nice, and sincere. I finished the conversation off with quick "thanks" and started the engine, pulling out of the parking lot.
In my rear view mirror I saw the kid, smartphone still in his hand, but the screen turned off, as he was staring at me trying to merge into the oncoming traffic. He reminded me of myself, before I started riding. Motorcycles and their wielders were magic to me. Spacemen with their suits and helmets, the shiny bikes reflecting in my eyes, sparkling with excitement.
He must be a future biker, I thought, as I let the double exhaust V-twin engine sing as I accelerated through the gears, undoubtedly to the kid's delight. And as I was drawing farther away, I realized, that the magic is not lost just yet, and if a girl on a bike can make a 15 year old kid drop what he was doing on his phone, and muster the courage in his gut to address and (oh my) compliment a woman almost twice his age on the bike she has, well, then there is hope.
And although he'll probably never read this: thanks kid, you're on the right track.