Francis Morton is not one to let life pass her by. At 82 years old she is not afraid of challenges or trying something new. On her annual winter visit to her daughter and son-in-law in Naples Florida she was given a chance to ride on the back of a motorcycle. She accepted without giving it a second thought.
But this wasn’t exactly a run around the block. Each weekend while she is in Florida, Francis, her daughter Brenda, and her husband Jim Hare travel to a campground in Arcadia FL. On most weekend Francis travels by car, but this weekend was special. A friend of Brenda’s and Jim’s had been injured in a motorcycle crash, and several friends were planning a fund raiser at the campground in Arcadia. In an effort to make the weekend special, Jim offered to have Francis ride on the back of his bike for the 85 mile trip from Naples to the campground. Looking back Francis is remarkably blasé about the decision, “I needed to get there, so I rode on the bike.” In fact Jim’s bike is quite safe. He has trouble balancing a two wheeled cycle, so he rides a large motorcycle with three wheels. Joining the group was Patty, Brenda’s Lemon Beagle, who rode in a dog carrier on a wagon towed behind Jim’s bike. So with Brenda on her bike, Francis in the back seat of Jim’s bike, and Patty bringing up the rear in his carrier they set out. “He loves riding there,” Francis assures me.
They must have made quite a sight traveling North on I-75. A three wheeled hog with an aging driver, an even older women in the back, a dog in the wagon, and Brenda on her motorcycle riding wing man. It wasn’t exactly Easy Rider, but they must have turned a head or two. “I was very comfortable”, Francis says of the trip. “It was very relaxing,” she adds. Although in Florida helmets are not mandatory, she wisely chose to wear one. “Jim kept asking me if I was asleep. I would put my head down on his back to keep the helmet from blowing off.” The trip took an hour and a half, and upon arrival the group was greeted by a throng of people assembled at the campground for the fund raiser. Francis was greeted with a cheer of excitement and a round of applause when they pulled in. “They didn’t think I could get off (the bike), but they were doing something and I just hopped off.” The fund raiser was a success, raising about $2,000 for the injured rider.
This life long Ellicottville resident is now back in town for the Summer. She’ll spend her time volunteering at the United Church, putting jig-saw puzzles together, and tending to her garden. Next Winter she’ll return to Florida to stay with Brenda and Jim. Asked if she would ride a motorcycle again, she responds without a thought, “Sure!” Easy rider indeed.