Today I was listening to “River of Tears” and for some reason when I closed my eyes, I was jettisoned onto a two lane highway cutting between smooth walls of peach colored rock. The sky was blue, the road aged to a faded gray. Leaning against my tank, into the wind I was hugging the curve. I pulled my bike to the right and then again to the left as the road turned. Up ahead lay more turns and the crest of the hill obscuring the road ahead. I opened my eyes and tried to remember which canyon, what curves I was seeing, but I couldn’t. I closed my eyes again and I was in a different place, the twists of Sweetzer Summit somewhere between Twin Falls and Boise. This time the rocks were more of a brownish gray, though mostly covered with yellow-green grass and straggler plants growing wherever they could. The tops of the rocks were covered in pine trees, and the sky was light blue streaked with wispy clouds. This road was more reminiscent of a man-made path, created by blasting our way thorough, but no less majestic than the smooth sandstone walls of the other canyon. This time too I was leaning into the wind, but when I turned my attention away from the scenery and back to the rider, I had my eyes closed, arms extended, and was standing. That is MotoManch, my spirit flying with me through the canyons, with blind faith, relaxed, content, and at peace.
Sometimes though, I lose that part of me, the part that loves to ride, that loves the adventure. It’s normally during particularly bad weather or a situation where riding is unusually risky. I didn’t used to be that way, and I’m not sure what has occurred in my life to make me jealous of the people in cars, warm, dry at able to eat drink and talk at will, but I sometimes I just am. Sometimes I walk into a gas station, see a book of Sudoku, and a cup of coffee and all I want is to lounge in the backseat as my friends drive me to our destination.
My first riding season I wanted to ride everywhere all the time and only avoided inclement weather if I felt too inexperienced to make it safely. By the next summer I felt rather confident, having ridden in a range of weather including Florida downpours. It wasn’t pleasant riding in rain, or wind, but I felt a sense of pride when I made it unscathed, and wore my wet clothes like a badge. I’ve ridden in everything but ice (because I don’t have a death wish), though I have ridden in temperatures as low as 16 degrees.
Eventually though, the novelty wore off, and it started to lose it’s “hardcoreness”. I knew that I could ride, knew that (like a postman) neither rain, hail, nor snow would stop me from reaching my destination. After reaching that realization I was confident and after “proving” to others that I am a skilled rider (and not just a pretty girl), I was secure in my status as a “rider”. I think that as time has gone on now, riding just for the sake of riding seems unnecessary, and really takes the joy out of it. Riding is something I do for fun, for the pleasure, not a way to get from point A to point B. Poor circumstances will never stop me from taking off on two wheels, but I’m not sure it makes sense to purposefully subject myself to miserable conditions just to say “I did it.”
I will say that there is a special joy when I find her. One minute I’ll be riding along, feeling tired and wishing I was in a vehicle with four wheels, and then, something happens, something that brings a smile to my face. I come to life and reminds me why this is my passion.