Posts Tagged ‘Motorcycle’

Calmness

July 30, 2011

While drinking my coffee this morning I start to think about the day and figure I will see if Ed wants to go for a ride. I grab my phone and notice that he sent me a text 15 minutes ago to see if I wanted to go for a ride. It is a sure thing, we are going for a ride.

After finishing my coffee I head out to meet Ed, and we start our bikes after a short conversation. Life and weather got in the way, and it has been 2 weeks since we last rode. The bikes have to shake off the dust a little, and so do we. After a few sputters and groans the engines are sounding good. I nod to Ed and we start forward.

After being away from the bike for a couple of weeks it takes a couple moments to get re-acquainted with the bike. We soar down the road and I begin to make subtle movements and feel the bike respond. These movements are little whispers from my body to the machine, and the tiniest motion yields a response. I touch the handlebars to the right a little and the bike shifts to the right. A little shimmy of the hips achieves a different shift. The slightest roll of the throttle and the bike and I take off down the road.

This ritual of subtly shifting the bike around helps me initiate the tacit dialogue between the machine and me. We need to be in close communication if we are both going to survive. Today was a day that this dialogue, and seemingly everything else, was perfectly in sync.

We ride down the road and we seldom encounter a moment of traffic. We meditatively motor our way through the pine barrens. At one point I look over at Ed. Ed’s shirt flaps and ripples like a flag in the wind, and like a flag he carves a straight line through the road and stands as a symbol of freedom and oneness. We ride for hours without saying a word, then at an intersection Ed asks if I want to stop for breakfast. I nod, and we head into the parking lot of the Shamong Diner.

We sit down for a meal and to take a break from the road. I order a vegetable omelette with broccoli, asparagus, tomatoes and onions with potatoes and rye toast. While eating this I tell Ed how meditative I felt during the ride, and he agrees that he was feeling the same. We fill our stomachs and share some conversation and then we’re on the road again. We’re not far from home, so we enjoy our last miles for the day. Just as we are about to get back home I ask Ed if he wants to ride again tomorrow. He does, and we’re set to ride again.

Solo Ride 7/10/11

July 10, 2011

When we were done riding yesterday, Ed told me that he had to work on his car the next day, so he wouldn’t be able to join me for a ride. I still need to get a ride in, so I plan for a solo ride. I touched base with Ed this morning, but it was confirmed, he’d be busy all morning.

A luxury that I benefit from is that when I ride with Ed, I get to use his saddle bags to store things. A jacket, a bottle of water, a camera, whatever it happens to be, I don’t have any storage that could house any of these things on my bike. I want to bring my camera today and I figure it is just a matter of putting the camera in a camera bag, then securely fastening that to the bike.

I head over to pick up the bike. When I get there I begin figuring out where I am going to put the camera. I decide to fasten it to the bracket that holds the license plate. A few twirls of the wrench and the camera bag is secured. As I tighten the bolt it begins to feel loose and then it quickly snaps. I broke the bolt, and now the license plate bracket is loose. This is no good, because anything that vibrates will be a problem on a long ride.

This could cause a big set back if I let it, but I don’t, and I quickly find a zip tie to temporarily secure the bracket. It isn’t perfect, but it is good enough. I jiggle the camera and am happy with how solid it is, even with the zip tie.

About a hundred miles until I’ll start needing gas, so I don’t stop right away. I hit the road and begin to work my way out of the neighborhoods. Sunday traffic has me chomping at the bit. The guy in front of me is going fifteen miles per hour below the speed limit, and I haven’t the patience to wait for him to turn. There’s no opportunity to pass so I turn at the next road I see.

I’m in the neighborhoods a little longer than I had hoped, but now I’m in a different area than I had planned. That’s not a problem, it’s actually a good thing. I find some good roads, and I start to relax when I begin to see flocks of bicycles. There must be a race, or a group ride, or something official, because there are literally hundreds (thousands?) of bikes on the road. I later learn that this was the ACS annual ride that starts out at the base of the Ben Franklin Bridge. I don’t know what it is, but I sit at the light for 5 rounds of green lights, not moving an inch.

Once the light turns green, I slowly bring the bike back up to speed. The time standing still gave me an opportunity to start sweating, and as the wind dries the perspiration I start to get cool. My temperature cools, the traffic and bicycles are gone, and I’m alone on the road. All is well.

I continue the ride without stopping. I’m gone for about three and a half hours and I get home exhausted and hungry. Ed is home when I drop off the bike, and we chat for a bit and before I know it we are working on the license plate bracket. He has a piece of hardware that is perfect for the job, and the bracket fastens better than it had been originally. I down a glass of water and head home. Another awesome ride.

Here’s a link to the ride…

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.