Monday, March 10, 2014

Open Road

Alphonse is up and running. I heart him. I spent some time with him over the past weekend, and I am thrilled at being back on the road without a cage. It's the most freeing experience a motor vehicle operator can have. If you've never driven a motorcycle, I recommend it fully.

The ability to be out on the road, in traffic, feeling the world and wind go by is a wonder. The road passing under your feet, the sound of the machine beneath you, and the integration of man and all those mechanical whizzings is such a delicious thing. The chain-driven cams make music unlike any car I've ever heard, and the tires on the pavement ring out a beautiful grinding and crunching that falls upon my ears like the soft falling of snowflakes on the crisp, cold ground. We spend too much time wrapped in comfort and silencing the world all around, I think. Cars shield us from the rest of what's going on. Close the windows, turn on the heat or AC and you are swathed in your own little pod of isolation. I wonder what it must be like to commute in a place that embraces motorcycles and other open-air vehicles? I wonder if there is more personal interaction in a place like that... less "Me and my own space". 

I've also been reminded about how dangerous motorcycles are by several people. I get it. Yes, yes. But as a motorcyclist, it's MY responsibility to make sure I'm not in blind spots, nor hidden behind other vehicles, nor surprising other motorists. If EVERYONE had to take a motorcycle safety course, or even better, actually DRIVE a bike now and then, I think we'd ALL be better drivers. On a bike, you can't take anything for granted. Turn signals are just possible indicators of a driver's actions, not rules. Making eye contact is important, and being acknowledged by other drivers is imperative. Never assuming that someone sees you, or your vehicle, and actually paying attention when you are changing lanes or approaching an intersection will keep you alive on a bike. Granted, we are smaller and less visible, but we are also better equipped to get out of a bad situation in traffic. I'm ranting a little, but you get my point, I think.  Share the road is an important, if often overlooked, rule of surviving. 

A dear friend of mine helped me pick up my bike. He lost a leg in an accident and still rides to this day. He told me the story, every detail of it, and I am humbled by his positive outlook and his continued desire to keep riding. Just a few seconds changed his life forever, and the driver of the car that hit him has to deal with the fact that her judgement changed not only his life, but his family's forever. I hope to never have that happen to me, but if it does, I hope to display the same incredibly positive outlook as he does.  He has my admiration and respect, and I hope he knows that (if he didn't, he does now). 

My summer is looking a lot different this year. You'll share those rides with me as I show you the places I go, and I hope to hear about your adventures, too. 

Come on! Pack a bag and let's get out there and ride. The open road awaits...