The same week I bought my second bike, I was invited out to the lake for an event about that model of motorcycle. My wife and I had been riding less than a year at that point and were looking forward to meeting other riders. My wife was wearing shorts. The more experienced riders warned her about bare skin and motorcycle exhausts, but she can be rather firm in her intentions and stayed in the shorts. We got back from a ride and dismounted the bike. Removing her helmet, she stepped closer to the bike to use the mirror to fix her hair. That’s when the pipe got her.
She didn’t tell anybody and slipped into the lady’s room to put on long pants. I didn’t find out about it until later that night. It was a serious burn and our physician told us she might need a skin graft. Fortunately it didn’t come to that. It was painful. It had to be scrapped to remove the burned skin, then she had to keep it clean and infection free until it finally healed.
The burn was unusual in that it formed a perfect heart shape. Our friends, children and other relatives weren’t too sure what to make of our turn to biking. So we decided to have a little fun. We started telling them that the burn was an initiation to a lady biker club called “Babe Owners Of Bikes.” You can work out the acronym on your own. We claimed that she had to brand herself with the heart shaped iron attached to the hot pipes of a motorcycle. I didn’t really expect anybody to believe it and don’t quite know what to make of the fact that almost everybody did. My sister even wanted to know if there was a chapter in her area that she could join.
The doctor assured us that this would be a permanent mark because it was a third-degree burn. As time passed however, it faded to the point where it barley remains as a slightly darker spot on her leg and the heart shape is no longer discernible.
Even though my wife thankfully doesn’t carry a scar from that encounter, you could still say it left a permanent mark on us. We now dress more appropriately for riding, wearing nothing less than jeans and boots on even the hottest of summer days. I’ve got my own faint scar on my wrist where a hot pipe got me as I worked on a brake line. Those first unfortunate burns served as well-heeded warnings that these machines can hurt you if taken for granted. I quickly got tired of being burned. You might even say I got exhausted.
— Guy Wheatley