Teacher Takes Ride on Wild Side

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English teacher finds rejuvenation in unleashing her biker alter-ego.

“Just imagine Jane Eyre in her leathers and skull-covered do-rag, and that would be me,” says long-time English teacher and writer Dorothy K. Fletcher. “Biketoberfest in Daytona Beach just brings out my wild side, and I can, for a little while at least, let it all hang out!”

Having just returned from a tour promoting her most recent book Zen Fishing and Other Southern Pleasures, Dorothy now gets to enjoy her annual trip as biker babe on the back of her husband’s Gold Wing touring bike. Together they roar into the vibrant, whirling world of choppers, street bikes, Harleys, and outrageous characters from all over.

“I love the way that the streets glitter with chrome and pulse with engine sounds and revving. And the people? There are thousands of them, and all of them are so incredibly interesting. They ride past with shades, tattoos, skull tee shirts and the occasional not-much-of-anything outfit worn by the more daring females. It is astounding. Of course, many of these ‘wild’ people are just like I am—they are work-a-day businessmen and women who are looking for a little adventure in their mundane lives.”

Fletcher who has taught English in Florida for the past 34 years is a board member of the Florida Council of Teachers of English and is a grandmother as well. Her trip to Biketoberfest is quite a departure from her usual day of grading papers, teaching lessons, promoting her books, and bobbling her granddaughter Samantha on her knee.

“Biketoberfest renews me in ways that I cannot easily express. Getting out of a rut often rejuvenates a person, and I bet that is why many of the participants at Biketoberfest go there. I can just imagine what my students would think of me. Most would say, ‘You go, girl!’ but others would surely say ‘No way!’ and as for many of my colleagues—well, I think they actually envy me somewhat.”

One stop that Dorothy and her husband Hardy always make is to Boot Hill Saloon, a notorious bar on Main Street right across from the cemetery. “I have yet to find the courage to take off my bra for that free beer,” Dorothy says with a chuckle. “I have my standards, you know. Still it is fun to watch all of the patrons, braless or not, as they dance to the live music and rub elbows with the other like-minded souls.”

When it is finally time to return to the real world, Dorothy gets to do some pondering as she sits on the back of the bike, holding on tightly to her husband of 34 years. “There is nothing that beats that feeling of connectedness when you ride a motorcycle with someone you love. And there is a connectedness to the world that you don’t get in a car. You can’t feel the coolness of the rushing wind or see the birds that fly overhead. In a car, you can’t smell the pine forests you drive through or experience the mists of sunrise or sunset. Riding on the back of a bike is a precious time that I really enjoy. And as much as I love them, it will be hard to go back to my students.”

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