There is this continuous, dreadful stream of superlatives that every living, breathing human on this planet is using to label what we are currently going through. Humanity, as it turns out, is tremendously disappointing. If I have learned anything from this it’s that I have come to realize how intolerant I have become of the behavior of my fellow man and woman. The responsive actions, written and verbal diatribe is nothing short of painful to experience. If this were the Rick and Morty episode where superior beings arrived and bellowed “Show me what you got“, we would fail miserably.
As a result of all the existing nonsense, I have elected to turn it all off and rid myself of the daily agony until the dust settles and we can resume normal operations, of sorts. I have decided to turn my attention to that which I crave as a motorcycle rider.
Which by the way we now have plenty of and can’t use. <Insert huge eye rolling and shaking head sigh here>.
While the debate continues over whether if we motorcyclists and cyclist should go out for a ride, citing that it is considered “selfish behavior”, the opportunities to direct our attention to our machines is at an all-time high. Since we are “supposed” to be at home, why not use this as an opportunity to do the required maintenance? Perhaps give it a thorough cleaning, make necessary adjustments, tighten every bolt, inspect every nook and cranny, finish that custom work you started at the close of the 2009 riding season, install those new parts you got, but were too busy riding to do it. Now is the opportunity to do those things.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for going for a ride and it would take very little encouragement to do so since I fall in with the “Why Not” crowd. The roads are pretty much empty and there is significantly less chance of me having to interact with other pesky human beings. I would be in my own little world, in my own little cocoon of my helmet, calmly and peacefully meandering the roads, releasing my skull of those daily doldrums (work, bills, chores, etc.) that clutter my brain matter and returning a happier, calmer man ready to take on the cat litter.
Whether if I’m cycling or riding the Harley, I’m able to distance myself from what ails me mentally, physically and emotionally. One forgets these things and we redirect our focus to what we are doing at that moment, “Being present” or “In the Moment” it is called. This is where self awareness happens, this is where understanding of ones making is realized, this is where you embrace who you are and what you are and are not capable of. Especially when it comes to cycling and very steep hills or ten miles until the next gas station and the fuel light came on five minutes ago.
It is here that you discover faith. Faith in yourself and faith in your machine.
I have been on group motorcycle rides of fifteen to twenty five riders and I have been in large cycling events with over five hundred other cyclists, but the one common denominator is that regardless of who or how many you are surrounded by, you still ride alone. That in itself, when realized, is a humbling experience.
However if you have a Bluetooth Comm System on your helmet, it is likely that you will not feel alone, especially if you have a chatterbox in your group who interrupts your Zen. Then at some point during the ride, the inevitable words will be uttered: “Will you please shut the *#@& up”. I have experienced this and sadly, I was the chatterbox. Likely I couldn’t help it because I saw, heard or did something stupid and/or funny and since I am easily amused, let’s just all agree to call it a character flaw.
All that considered, a good road is not determined by the number of lanes, the presence or lack of cows, horses or center-line, the rise and fall of the terrain, trees, tumbleweeds, other riders or other wheeled vehicles. A good road, a good ride, is the state of mind you allow yourself to fall into. That release of everything outside of who you are and the connection to your machine.
The focus within. Where there is no division between mind and body.
You can suggest that this might be alcohol talking or New Age quackery if you like. But the next time you are out on the bike, you’ll have these thoughts in your head and you’ll say to yourself, “Dammit, the hippie was right”. You’ll know the moment, it’ll be when all you can hear is your breathing and maybe, maybe the sound of the road rushing under your wheels.
It is also about that time that a deer will decide that it needs to be on the other side of the road. So try and pay attention as well.
To keep my head fresh, while I am refraining from partaking in that which keeps my wife from holding a pillow over my face while I eat my dinner, I like to watch YouTube videos from and by those who are exploring the planet or their favorite roads by motorcycle. Reading about it, while thought provoking, doesn’t offer me the visual stimulation and attention that a video of someone riding through the mountains, desert or dirt track. I have my preferences, I like the desert scenery and while I have never ridden my Harley in that environment, videos of such give me a glimpse of what it would be like… less the movement, feeling, smells and sounds. Pretty much everything that goes into making a ride “A ride”. But that’s all I have at the moment and I’ll have to, we’ll have to, live with it.
Here are some of my favorites that I like to watch, mind you I do this while I’m riding my bicycle on my indoor trainer, so I do have some feeling of movement even though I’m not going anywhere. Make sense?
The best thing to do here is to go to Amazon and rent the BDR series of 1 hour movies. Well worth it and it’ll give you the itch to take up Adventure Riding.
Don’t worry. The fog will lift, the curtain will be drawn, the window shades will opened and the doors will unlock. Just as quickly as it came, it will vanish and we’ll wonder what all the fuss was about. Then you’ll get on your bike and go for a long ride and curse the hippie.
You are welcome.