First Gear - A Motorcycle Memoir
A story about courage and hope, survival and recovery, First Gear is ultimately a story about the anguished relationship between a daughter and her mother. 50 years old, living with Multiple Sclerosis and looking for a re-direction in her life, Lorrie embarks on a motorcycle trip through Northern Ontario, Manitoba and Western Quebec on her 2009 Harley-Davidson.
Ride along as she discovers the vast beauty of the Canadian Shield and revisits her childhood growing up in the Ottawa Valley in the 1970’s. Her father was a violent man, who exerted an iron control over his family, dominating his wife and abusing his children. Her mother, an alcoholic, survived her marriage by being compliant and denying the impact of her husband’s violence on her children.
Lorrie talks frankly about the effect of years of physical and sexual abuse by her father and after a suicide attempt and hospitalization she finally goes to the police. Charges are laid and during the justice process, that comes to a shocking and unexpected end she uncovers a secret long held by her mother that will change her life forever.
Horses in the Sand
Forthcoming in Fall 2021, Horses in the Sand is a follow up memoir to First Gear – A Motorcycle Memoir (2015).
The opening story, Chain Wallet and Zippers, is an endearingly honest tale of what it was like to grow up as a girl who was starkly different from ‘normal’ and how coming out became a lifelong process of self-acceptance and changing identities.
First Gear Reviews
" Jorgensen captures the back and forth process we all experience in working through our turmoil. She has nailed the ride."
A Ride in the Dark – excerpts from the review
A motorcyclist takes us on a trip to her painful past.
“Lorrie Jorgensen’s First Gear: A Motorcycle Memoir takes the reader on lonely roads like Ontario’s Highway 11 as it arcs north over Lake Superior, and in memory through incest, rape, alcoholism and, perhaps worst of all, the court process of confronting her
Jorgensen writes passionately about motorcycling, and she puts the reader on the bike. “The centre dashed lines rip by like newspapers coming off a printing press,” she says. “My boots are inches away from asphalt that races past like the belt on a sander.” These are images any rider will have, but would not have formulated, and she or he will nod in recognition with “its abrasiveness always waiting to scrape the best off of you, leaving your body bleeding and broken. The gap is the difference between exhilaration and death.” It is not all exhilaration. She renders the strain of backing a loaded bike up an incline, the hassle of getting in and out of rain gear, the problem of peeing in parking lots (you get backsplash from asphalt; ditches are better). Jorgensen knows the ride.
She celebrates the spirit of Northern Ontario, a quirky combination of humour and perseverance embodied in the giant flying saucer at Moonbeam, the huge raptor in Mattice, and the three-storey high snowman, wearing sunglasses and holding a fishing pole, in Beardmore. And the emptiness, the wonder of being able to travel for 200 kilometres in Canada’s most populous province and see nothing, no town, no settlements, scarcely another vehicle. Jorgensen also renders the mental ride, the movement in and out from reverie to the road. There is a meditative aspect to motorcycling that is not at all like sitting on a yoga mat. Slippery tar strips suddenly yank your mind back to the road. The buffeting from big trucks shakes even a big Harley. Yet this empties your thoughts. Then the solitude and the rhythm of the engine return you to reflection, and you get deeper by moving in and out, each time a little further out, beyond the superficial hurt, or hate, or love to explore the deeper, subtler aspects of your own responses, your exchanges with others.
Jorgensen captures the backandforth process we all experience in working through our turmoil. She has nailed the ride.”
"Her life story is filled with so much emotion and insight. lt’s a brilliant biker tale. I want to thank her for being so brave. l’m sorry when the story ends but then I realize that it doesn’t. Only the book ends."
Reading from the Good Book – excerpts from the review
reviewed by Nancy Irwin
Canadian Biker Magazine – April 2016
“Many people enjoy impressive international adventures on bikes with knobby tires, but this is different. Lorrie starts in the Ottawa Valley. She’s 50 years old and looking back. Her solo trip deseribes places as they were in the 1970s-how they got their names and what they have become now, layered with stories from her childhood and youth. She and her Harley, Thelma D, make their way to Winnipeg, and loop back touring Ouebec and Ontario.
The official reason for the journey? She needed to clear the cobwebs out of her head. lt’s that story, and an impressive one.
Her life story is filled with so much emotion and insight. lt’s a brilliant biker tale. I want to thank her for being so brave. l’m sorry when the story ends but then I realize that it doesn’t. Only the book ends.”
"I really felt as if I got to know Lorrie, her wry humour, her skillful story telling and, as the story unfolded, so equally rose my respect and admiration."
– Lisa de Nikolits, author of A Glittering Chaos, The Witchdoctor’s Bones, and The Rage Room
“This is a book about courage, about rising above circumstance and claiming your life as your own. First Gear is a first rate memoir about confronting the demons of the past and dealing with the vicissitudes of the present. At times, while reading the book, I wanted to rush in somehow and stop Lorrie from having to experience the nightmares that no one should have to go through. I really felt as if I got to know Lorrie, her wry humour, her skillful story telling and, as the story unfolded, so equally rose my respect and admiration. An inspiring read that tells you in no uncertain terms that it’s never too late to take charge of your life and travel down the road that you want to.”
An inspiring read that tells you in no uncertain terms that it’s never too late to take charge of your life and travel down the road that you want to.”
– Rena Upitis, Professor of Arts Education, Queen’s University and President, Wintergreen Studios, author of Raising a School
“Told with searing honesty and peppered with vivid imagery, First Gear is a memoir that will leave you marvelling at Lorrie Jorgensen’s intelligence, generosity, and resilience. When I was a teenager, I read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and learned much from it. And while Jorgensen’s tale is also a journey by bike, it goes far beyond the philosophical musings in Pirsig’s compelling work – because truth is, indeed, stranger than fiction. Stranger. Fiercer. And ultimately, much more forceful. long after I turned the last page, this memoir has stayed with me. I often find myself musing about Lorrie’s teachings – about family, wisdom, friendship, self-reliance, and survival.”
"You will marvel at the crisp lucid language and—above all—the honesty of this document of persistence, and the courage it took to write it down."
– Robin Collins, a good friend and a good man, currently working on his story, My Escape from Certainty: A Memoir of the 1970s and 80s in the Ultra-Left.