Monday, February 26, 2007

Midwest Scooter Enthusiast

Where the Blue is

In an age when eletronic equipment can keep a rider from getting lost and music can be had by a slender thread from a modern Walkman to an ear bud, there is something still to be said for the old ways. The only music you had came from your own thoughts, blended with the sound of wind and the machine you were riding.

The old script of this play worked itself out this way; you got a little lost and tried to read the horizon for signs. At night it could mean aiming in the direction of light pollution in the sky signifying a town or city. Shutting the bike down to listen for the sound of a busy thoroughfare. It may have been a small main road leading through a town of a few hundred people but the greater the sound of traffic the better your chances were. During the day you had the chance to find an open country store to find out just where you were. Small towns with friendly people who offered a free coke for no other reason than just because. Small towns have always bolstered my faith in humanity.

If you were lucky enough to chance upon an establishment with a map on the wall, so much the better. It could show you the way back but it could also show you the best roads to get there.

Somewhere along the line I got a little smarter. I began buying maps instead ofjust looking at them when I was lucky enough to find them. I started applying them to find the best routes between A and B. I began using them to make the most of the ride. Much better to have the giant folding puzzles with you than to hope to remember what you saw at the last gas station.

Two friends on the gravel shoulder of a country road at midnight. They'd ridden to the peak of a hill. One pulls out a small piece of paper and begins unfolding it into a huge expanse. Two Bic lighters flash near the paper as they try to determine where they are. First one lights a cigarette, then the other. Their heads are close to the paper and the occasional exhaling of smoke billows around the edges of the unfolded map. One rider looks up and points over the horizon. The other agrees and begins to refold the map, cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth. Moments later the two are off the shoulder and on their way.


It was then that I noticed the best roads ran past rivers and lakes. In summer, twisted green canopies of old growth trees shadowed me from the sun and made for incredible bursts into the starry night on these meandering two-lanes. Vacation homes with bonfires and children by the water. On a starlit night a glance can etch an indelible memory of their existance in one's mind. So quickly, barely a glance as I pass. But the peace I felt in the briefest moment I saw them will remind me of that ride.

On quiet nights as these I often felt my speed settle into an acknowlegement of the moment. The bike would slow of its own accord and I could lift a hand as to wave to them in the light of the streetlamps, and the people in their yards would wave back.

Summer rides where blue on the map indicated lakes and rivers have always been special occasions to me. Clear nights and waters shimmering the sky upon their surfaces.

The Roadbum


Bryce said...

I'm a no music while riding guy. It just makes me uncomfortable. GPS...I'd be unlikely to use it unless I were on the Cannonball or something time sensitive like that.

Though I'm reasonable old school, I've got some love for the modern. Get a 12V charging socket for your scoot and replace your bic lighters. VW offers a really slick LED mini flashlight that goes into your charging socket.

Combatscoot said...

You have a gift for prose. It just flows well.
If I listen to music while riding, it's only what's playing in my head from memory. That's the way I like it. Simpler is better.

CodyandMichelle said...

Harv,Harv, Harv, it's been to long since you have graced us with your presence. I think this is my favorite posting to date by you.Especially those last 3 paragraphs! I've said it before, you are a gifted writer!
I'm with you, Bryce and John, I cannot stand to hear music blaring from a two wheeler, Michelle and I love to hear the sound of the wind and do not like to be distracted from the beauty of what we all call "The Ride".
We are so impatient to be moving to the small town like atmosphere of which you write, it actually pains my heart to hear of you talk of them , which is in the same way we envision them.
And when it comes down to it, when we are riding through beautiful scenery, who really needs a map or a watch.
Don't wait so long next time Harv.
May God grant you safe passage on all of your journeys!

American Scooterist Blog said...

Bryce, there's always a Bic on the bike somewhere. The habit started when I briefly camped via motorcycle. I could see a lot of uses for that socket....

John, thank you. Its nice not to be confronted by something pumping waves of sound right into one's head haha. I feel the same way you do.

You're leaving me speechless, Cody. You have No idea how hard that is to do haha. But I know how you feel. Just a few years ago I was esconced in the inner city of Minneapolis. I wanted to be away from there in the worst way. When the time came it felt like a weight lifted free. But I felt that same longing just as you. See, its stuff like this that makes me work all the harder to give you what I have. I recall too well the yearning to be out of traffic and into the open countryside.

Biker Betty said...

I sure enjoy the scenery as I pass it. I have to admit, I do love to listen to my iPod when on the longer trips. Great post.

Anonymous said...

Very eloquent Roadbum!

I have been there many times....right where you are describing. Only someone who has ridden a two wheeler through country like you describe can grasp your comment "On a starlit night a glance can etch an indelible memory of their existance in one's mind." Very well put my friend. Thanks!

Tom said...

Hey, half of SEastern Minnesota would be without bottle openers if we didn't have our Bic lighters...

American Scooterist Blog said...

Biker Betty, Thanks for the kind words. Being able to listen to music while riding is something we can all choose. Who knows, maybe someday I'll be doing it ;)
Thank you Sarch. Those memories inspire me to ride.
Hahaha. Tom, I hadn't thought about that but I remember doing that myself! lol

Thanks guys. You make this writing experiment that much more interesting and fun. Bless ya all.


CodyandMichelle said...

I love you man! Not in a mancrush sort of way mind you :) But even when you answer my comments or post comments on my blog you have an even greater gift than your make me feel good about what I write or how I think, or just about myself in general.It's kind of hard to put into words without coming across all femmy and all that.
Let me tell you a story... When I got out of the Navy way back when, I became a Beach Lifeguard here in FL. Now mind you, I didn't think my Dad was too proud of what I was doing for a living, not that he ever said anything negative, I just felt he thought I could do better. Well one day I went up to MI, where my folks live, for a visit. We were walking through the neighborhood on a wintry day, when we came upon a friend of my Dad's, well my Dad hugged me around the shoulders and introduced me to his neighbor," Hello Bob, this is my son, the Lifeguard , up from Fl visiting his Mom and Pop!" I don't know why, but I could feel my self getting all puffed up and proud, I don't think I loved my Dad more than i did at that moment! I also feel our relationship changed for the better from that moment on.
He's a good man my Dad, I get the same sense about you Harv! Guys like you should of become ambassadors, we would have a more peaceful world with guys like you and my Dad in that role.
Anyway(awkward pause)thanks!

American Scooterist Blog said...

Cody, my humblest thanks. I'm pleased to hear you have a strong relationship with your father. Still working on that up here if you know what I mean. Not that its terrible or anything but it certainly could be better. Some of it is typical stuff and some of it isn't.