Fictional motorcycle poetry from Nick Ienatsch

Honda R6

A stranger appears… – Motorcyclist Archives

Her husband left her last year because “you ride too much,”

She missed him occasionally but preferred her Yamaha’s touch.

Addiction to the R6 ended her time as a wife…

Becoming a racer had consumed her entire life.


The Black Hills of South Dakota held no roadraces.

There was no track in this state, despite the wide-open spaces.

So she honed her skills on the sweepers and switchbacks,

Studying video of the world’s best, winning on real racetracks.


This woman taught sixth grade Monday through Friday.

Sneaking into the mountains on weekends and holidays.

She’d study SBK and Moto2 after her lesson plans were made,

Drifting to sleep as the champagne was sprayed.


The dream was to race in September at Utah’s great track:

A place called Miller, if you remember that far back.

Her dad took her there when she was a little girl,

To watch America’s Ben Spies trounce the entire world.


Dad and mom were now gone, the husband checked out,

And suddenly her dreams were free from their doubt.

She studied bike prep, saved money for race rubber,

Constantly riding in the canyons all summer.


Her self-coaching plan based around video,

Took her a long way…but then she hit a plateau.

The last bit of speed just wouldn’t come.

She was too slow mid-corner, the steering felt numb.


She scared herself badly one Saturday morning;

The front end sliding luridly in a dire warning.

She sat by the side of the highway with tears in her eyes,

Knowing her skills weren’t enough to beat the guys.


As she slumped in the saddle in complete despair,

The sound of a big twin filled the air.

The bike was charging hard up the canyon,

And moments later it flashed past with the blast of a cannon.


The leather-clad rider saw the R6 by the side of the road,

And snuck on the brakes, increasing pressure until the rotors glowed.

He spun the RC51 around like he was born to ride,

Parking next to the woman whose eyes weren’t yet dried.


They talked for an hour, there on the shoulder.

His RC ticked and popped, the shagged tires seemed to smolder.

She sensed he was special and she told him her story.

He listened with interest, remembering his long road to glory.


His slow Southern drawl and big easy smile,

Calmed her despair, but it took a while.

She admitted her doubts in her “silly racing dream.”

He nodded and listened, planning a scheme.


As the sun moved west and started to dim,

The woman realized she hadn’t asked about him.

She’d never seen this rider before, never seen an RC51.

“Who are you and where’d you come from?”


“Well, I’m not from around here but I sure like these roads,

I try to get up here before the summer weather erodes.

But let’s ride down the hill before it becomes night

Follow me and watch my brake light.”


They fired down the canyon with the Honda in front,

At a pace that pushed the woman to stay in the hunt.

Her focus fastened on the stranger’s every move,

And as she mimicked his actions, she found a new groove.


Twilight was hanging around extra long this night,

So they decided running back up the canyon would only be right.

She pushed her R6 to levels unknown,

Glued to the flying Honda like a dog on a bone.


Every move the stranger made was seen and memorized—

A real live demonstration of what she’d seen televised.

They eased to a stop at the top of the hill.

Both riders giddy, high on the two-wheeled thrill.


“I better get goin’,” the stranger drawled to the girl,

“But we can meet in the morning for another whirl.”

“Yes!” she exclaimed, still reeling from the ride,

And then asked where he was staying in this empty countryside.


“I’ve rented a little slice of heaven a few miles west,

Up thataway and over the crest.

Let’s meet at your town’s diner at 7,”

And with that he lit the RC’s fire and disappeared toward his heaven.


She listened to the Honda’s bark as it rocketed away,

Amazed at how long she could hear the music play.

For over an hour, as the night settled in,

She heard the stranger’s virtuosity and imagined his grin.


A postcard-perfect day greeted the two new friends,

And the stranger arrived with a backpack in his hands.

“I grabbed a set of old leathers from my sister’s collection,

I’m guessing they’ll fit you almost to perfection.”


She slipped into the diner’s bathroom and the suit was perfect,

Returning to the table she was determined to write him a check.

“No…I can’t take your money, just buy me some breakfast.

It’s fun to find and help a person so bent on success.”


As they walked out from breakfast she saw a tall man,

Bent down by her bike, which sat on a new stand.

“My old friend Merlyn Plumlee had a few factory parts,”

Her new friend drawled. “And he’s bored because my stuff always starts.”


Plumlee had prepped the R6 while they dined,

Creating a racebike with quick hands and mind.

Ti fasteners and carbon and Marchesinis combined.

He smiled and said, “Taking these old parts of my hands would be so kind.”


Plumlee’s work was a revelation as they streaked through the hills.

Her riding improved with the confidence a factory bike instills.

They’d stop and talk and go some more,

The stranger’s hints and tips ringing true to her core.


“Ya can’t go until you slow because you need direction,

My friend Freddie taught me that,” was part of the instruction.

“Your eyes are too slow for the speed you carry,

Move them quicker and those two fast rights won’t be so scary.


“Get those downshifts started early but don’t snap out the clutch

Because at Miller you won’t be backshifting straight up and down very much.”

The coaching and flying continued with the intensity of a stampede

The two locked together in conversation and speed.


Sunset arrived again, only 24 hours after they had met,

But the woman’s life was changed, she was an out-and-out jet.

She gazed at the Black Hills and then stared at the stranger,

Knowing what he brought her was a path through racing’s danger.


He turned and said, “Your race is next week and you are now ready.”

She heard truth in his words and that truth kept her gaze and heartbeat steady.

The woman started to speak but saw the stranger reach for his helmet.

So her words tumbled out in a rush before he melted into the firmament.


She said thanks and meant it, asking if they could ride together again.

And the stranger said he’d be around when she needed a coaching friend.

As he reached for his gloves she whispered, “I’d like to thank you by name for all that you did.”

The stranger slipped onto his RC and smiled. “The world calls me the Kentucky Kid.”



They call him the Kentucky Kid… – Brian J. Nelson

Nick’s Note: Nicky Hayden is on my mind a lot. I rode with him at Freddie’s school (OK, not “with” him…) and he was always so accommodating and real to me and others. I get to ride at Champ School with Roger Hayden now, and he reminds us all of Nicky in his humility, smile, friendliness, and riding acumen. But I think of Nicky mainly because of his “All In” leathers during his 2006 championship season: “All In”—the best way to ride, and the best way to live.