“Everybody Has a Story” September Contest Winner

If there's a will, there's a way

By Marylin Sparenberg, Virginia Beach, Virginia

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Nothing makes me feel better, mentally or physically, than riding a motorcycle. I learned how to ride when I was 18. Had a Yamaha RD200 for a whole year. Didnt know much about maintenance. Basically just kept her clean and full of gas. I loved riding that bike. I was in my last year of high school; would come home, change my uniform and ride all day long until the sun set. One day I shifted to first gear and it died. I sold it for parts and was away from riding for awhile after getting married. It was my future husband who taught me how to ride and bought me that bike.

Diabetes almost stopped Marylin from enjoying the thing she loves most, riding a motorcycle.

My husband had a motorcycle while we lived in Hawaii, where I had our daughter. Then he sold the bike when we moved to Florida, where I had our son. We then moved to Virginia and we ended up with motorcycles again after seeing so many along the Blue Ridge Parkway one summer vacation. As soon as we got back home we went straight to the bike shop. The kids were older then so we figured we could start riding again. No way were we getting just one though. If he got a bike, I got a bike!

I can remember how badly I wanted to go up to a complete stranger and ask if he or she would let me ride their bike. I never did though. It was time to get my own bike. I wont go into the number of bikes Ive ridden but I will say there is nothing like it. Took the MSF course and later became an instructor. Found that the only thing I like as much as riding a motorcycle is teaching someone else to ride. Unfortunately, my health took a turn for the worse and I had to give it all up.

The Kawasaki Ninja 250 that provides Marylin with the “therapy” she needs to feel alive again.

In 1984 I was diagnosed with Diabetes. I was only 30 years old. I didnt do a very good job of maintaining the proper sugar levels over many years and ended up with nerve damage. The funny thing about neuropathy is that before you lose feeling in your feet, they hurt alot. It was like walking on broken glass over hot sand. I got a cane and thought Id never be able to walk normal. I was not riding as often anymore and the bike was wasting away in my garage so I sold it. Years continued and I got my Diabetes under control. The pain finally stopped and I started thinking about riding again.

Marylin Sparenberg enjoying life at 52!

After more than 10 years I decided to get another bike. I wanted something light, easy to handle. In December 2004 I became the proud owner of a silver Kawasaki Ninja 250. I found out after getting it that I couldn not shift because the message to lift up doesnt go from my brain to my foot. We modified the shifter and Im good to go. I never realized how much I missed riding. It fills me with so much joy. It takes all my cares away. Its like therapy. Besides filling my brain with endorphins and getting high on life again, Im more physical. I feel like a spring chicken. People noticed the change in me and would ask what Ive been up to. My children are happy to hear Im riding again. You wouldnt think someone would be happy to have a 50 year old grandma riding a motorcycle, but all those that know me well are very happy. Believe me, no one is happier than I am – except maybe my husband.

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