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.