The Motorcycle

July 10, 2011

I turn the key to ignition, switch the bike on, start it up and feel the rumble. The bike warms and I shift it into first gear. A glance around and we are on the road. The slow tour through the neighborhood on the way out to a long ride is filled with excitement, anticipation, wonder. We pull up to the edge of the development, turn our signals on, and we’re off.

Today, like most days, I’m following my father-in-law Ed. Ed and I share an appreciation for similar roads and journeys, and our quiet travels are, for the most part, unspoken. We just ride and observe; it is very meditative and calming.

After a few twists and turns we are out of the neighborhoods entirely, and we’re on the rural county roads. Getting out of the neighborhood feels good. There are many more hazards to be aware of in a neighborhood, and you often have to stop, turn, wait, slow down. These are things I don’t enjoy doing when I’m riding the bike.

The rural roads are nice. These are the roads that twist through farms and fields, sometimes dipping through tunnels of trees where the shade hits you instantly, and you feel the temperature suddenly drop. A ride through a mixture of sun and shade feels odd, as the drastic and rapid change of temperature is unique.

Riding through rural roads with the openness of the bike gives you a real feeling of being “there” for the entire ride, a feeling very unlike that which you get from the same ride in a car.

A car comes up from behind and wants to go faster than we want to go. We put on our blinkers and pull to the side to let them pass. The difference is that the car has some place to be. We are already where we want to be, so we let them head toward their destination while we continually enjoy reaching our destination.

We follow a road that changes names several times. Along the side of the road we see corn farms, flower farms, cabbage farms, apple orchards, goats, alpacas, and many other sights that aren’t normally encountered. These roads are the best roads in the state, and there are virtually no other travelers sharing the road. We cruise along and focus on the road, taking in the scenery as it passes by.

We arrive at an intersection where we have the choice to go in any direction. Ed looks over at me and motions with his chin in a circle, as to say, “Which way do you want to go?”. I simply shrug my shoulders, in a sense saying, “I don’t even know where we are, so whichever way is fine with me.” We both realize that it doesn’t matter where we go. Though not a word is spoken, we both laugh a good belly laugh, and we shift our bikes and roll the throttle.

Having no particular destination is one of the keys to a good ride, and that can easily be applied to life as well. Improvisation, whimsical choices, and an open mind comprise a good ride. Having a particular destination or a planned route is limiting, and can make the journey less enjoyable. If you make an effort to make each moment of the journey enjoyable, it doesn’t matter what the destination is.

We tend to ride for about 5 hours a day, but in this time we get hungry, thirsty, and we stop for a bite to eat at whatever tiny place happens to be on the side of the road. Today we found ourselves in the Woodstown Diner, and we ordered breakfast for lunch. These places where we stop have a small-town, local feel to them. Most of the patrons know the workers, and it feels like a step back in time about 20 years. This makes me feel good and I hope to stop at these places often enough, over the season and the years, for these people to recognize me as a patron. The close knit feeling of camaraderie inspires hope. Real people leave an impression.

We talk about getting gas across the street, but we are already itching to get back on the bikes. Ed says, “This may be the beginning of a tragic story, but I don’t want to get gas across the street.” I agree with him, and we know we will have plenty of gas to ride for a while before we have to stop at a gas station. We roll through the parking lot and exit through a back road. This positions us nicely to make a left onto the main road, and in a moment’s time we’re riding again.

The wind whips by and really beats me up. I don’t have a windshield, so the full force of the wind hits me directly. Bugs smash on my goggles, and sometimes on my chest, my cheek, etc. Smashing into a small bug at 50mph feels like being shot with a tiny projectile. Debris flies up from the ground and feels like tiny needles poking me.

We wind our way in a huge circle, a loop that encompasses most of Southern New Jersey. Along the way we stop at a couple of scenic spots to enjoy the view, but mostly we just ride. Our unspoken journeys take us on no particular route, and we finish right where we began. We park the bikes in the garage and we say the same thing we say at the end of every ride: “That was awesome”.

Click here for a map of the route.


One Response to “The Motorcycle”

  1. 2live2ride Says:

    Awesome blog, awesome ride!

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