By J1 Reporter Jessica Brusnahan
When most of today’s students think of motorcycles at school, images from 70s and 80s movies (Say Anything and Grease, anyone?) come up. But this isn’t the case for science teachers Matthew Winterboer and Linda Brock.
Winterboer began riding motorcycles in college and continued throughout his time in the Navy. Winterboer recalled one ride on a beautiful Friday afternoon in South Carolina that suddenly turned stormy. Wearing his “‘summer whites’ uniform (think Top Gun if that helps)…the sky opened up and the rain came pouring down for about 10-15 minutes,” requiring him to do some quick laundry when he got home.
Brock started riding early in high school, with a Vespa scooter that she used to get around to her activities during the summers. Picture that: Mrs. Brock pulled up to school in style long before she came to Marian. Later on she bought a small Honda motorcycle to “find a small town cafe and meet the locals” during adventures in the Nebraska countryside.
However, neither teacher would say their longtime passion for motorcycles is extreme. Weather and storage space are key factors for determining when to ride for both Winterboer and Brock. “Unlike some diehard enthusiasts, I get zero enjoyment riding in cold or rainy weather,” Winterboer said.
Brock echoed this, adding that she definitely prefers driving a car in Omaha’s rush hour traffic due to safety concerns. Winterboer summed up the main purpose of a motorcycle, saying, “it’s simply more fun to ride than drive.” Both believe relaxing and exploring are best done on these smaller vehicles.
As for others in the Marian community noticing their bikes, Winterboer does ride his to school more than Brock. When he first started, though, Winterboer wasn’t able to keep a bike due to transportation problems with his young children. But years apart couldn’t kill the passion: this past spring he was able to get a new motorcycle that has made plenty of appearances in the upper parking lot at Marian. He doesn’t get many reactions from coworkers, mostly just from those who also have bikes. One of Winterboer’s bike buddies at Marian was former art teacher Jeremy Cisco, who started teaching at Marian in 2014, the same year he did.
On the other hand, Brock doesn’t use her bike for work transportation. When her passion for riding was revealed in an issue of the Network last year, she said she got a positive, but surprised reaction from many of her colleagues. “They see me at school and not too many see me socially out of the school setting,” where she feels most comfortable with her bike. She has made a few appearances in recent years at some lucky Marian students’ graduation parties on her motorcycle.
Both teachers’ motorcycles also have very close links to their marriages. For Winterboer, he had been on a date with his future wife. “A few days after we met, I was riding down the highway when my phone slipped out of my pocket onto the ground. I didn’t realize it had happened until I got back to my apartment,” he said, remembering that her number was only saved on that lost phone. He resolved to go back and was able to retrace his steps to retrieve the battered but not broken phone, owing the event to “pure luck or perhaps an act of fate.”
For Brock, she met her husband while playing on a co-ed softball team. Their first date was a baseball game. “He called me the day before we were to go and wondered if I would mind if he picked me up on his motorcycle,” she said, expressing her surprise and excitement. Over their 30 years together, they have continued to ride, often with two other couples.
We’ve never seen a motorcycle owned by a student in the Marian lots. Senior Claudia Archer got one in the fall and was planning on showing it off during her last few weeks at Marian but has been unable to due to coronavirus cancellations. We asked a couple Prep boys if they knew of any students there who rode, but couldn’t find anyone. So is riding a motorcycle to school a dying passion? A theme for movies of the last century? Maybe so, but Winterboer, Brock, and Archer sure still enjoy the freeing rides. (Updated 4/26).