In the long days of winter, I find myself wandering into the garage. I have been known to start my bike and let it idle for a while just so that my hoodie can soak up the smell of exhaust. Then when I wear it the rest of the day I catch small whiffs of the fumes. Missing my motorcycle is a longing so strong it is physical. But what is it about the ride that I miss? What draws me to place my hands gently on the seat as I pass by, feeling the grain of the leather under my fingertips or to give a quick shine to the chrome with the sleeve of my shirt when I notice the smallest of smudges.
I am a person who truly values time alone in my own headspace. It’s not something that can be found easily these days. The world that surrounds me today is full of noises and distractions. The sound of a TV, cell phone, voices of loved ones, co-workers, club sisters echo in my head at every turn. My busy life does not have an off switch. I am connected constantly and find myself at the beck and call of other people’s whims both invited and not.
When I was a kid I grew up in the serenity of the country. Weekends spent on horseback camping with my best friend, walks through the fields to find a muddy creek, playing chase in the apple orchard with a pack of adoring dogs, running away with my imagination and getting lost in my own fantasy world. I was always happy to go outside and play even if I was by myself. Life was simple and losing yourself for an afternoon was as easy as stepping out the back door.
Nowadays People have grown inpatient, they have grown to expect instant responses and absolute attention. It seems as though your very existence in the same space as other people requires that you pay full attention to them. Open roads give me a place to allow myself to slide into my fantasy world without people becoming offended that I am not paying attention or listening to them.
Today it’s not easy to find time to be alone without distraction. It’s not easy to empty your thoughts of the stress and distractions. I can think about the things I want to think about and not what my audience demands of me. When I sit on my bike and turn the key, I can physically feel the stress of the day leave my body. I have no choice but to eliminate the distraction of my cell phone and disconnect from all else in the world. “I was riding” is the perfect excuse to be unreachable.
As my bike begins to rumble, I feel the vibration in my chest and it starts to shake free any of the stress of the day. My mind starts to clear of the thoughts that consumed me only moments before and I begin to think about nothing but the ride ahead. There are no interruptions, no requests and no distractions. I can work through a thought from start to finish.
As I roll back the throttle, thrust surpasses gravity in the most magical of ways. I can feel the pull of the thrust against my chest, as my body breaks free from the space it used to occupy and hurls into a forward motion. I can feel the strength of my fingers on the grips and the pull on my arms, my body resisting movement but my arms binding me to the handlebars. I tighten my thighs against the tank and twist the throttle harder allowing the thrust to pull my head back just a little so that I can feel the power of it taking over.
The only sounds I hear are the rumble of the engine and the thunder of the pipes. All other noise and distraction is lost. I can feel myself melting into the bike as it becomes an extension of me, and I it.
I love the feeling of having some play time to push my limits and discover the ability of my ride. There is nothing like the exhilaration of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and getting your heart racing. Finding some unexpected curves in the road can completely make the ride.
Being on the road you begin to experience the environment on a way you simply cannot connect with by any other means. The details you notice in the pavement, the wildlife in the fields and the smells of the road. Riding through neighborhoods you notice the smell of the homes cooking their evening dinner, at the red light you smell the cigarette in the car ahead or at times you can smell the perfume of the lady driving the car beside you. In the country the smell of rain hitting warm tarmac or freshly cut grass. You become one with that which surrounds you and you can truly lose yourself in the experience.
At the end of the day you return home with a clear head, your face road dirty and sun kissed. I love listening to the sound of the pings and gurgles of the engine cooling off as I strip my gear off after a long hard day of riding. Riding is an escape from the world, and an opportunity to rediscover myself. It’s a way to hit the “reset” button and helps me to come back to the demanding world having cleared the dust and cobwebs out of my brain.
And that…. Is why I ride.
Ride safe sisters!