Thursday, March 15, 2007

Time to Slake Your Thirst

I've always had an unspoken distance I needed to ride in order to feel... rested. I don't know about you but I feel more refreshed after a proper ride than after a good night's sleep. Since I can remember I could never sleep more than six hours unless physically ill. Sleep is a non active sort of activity. You're not really involved. You sort of have to trust that nothing will happen while you're "away".

Riding on the other hand, is a hands on in the moment experience. You control what happens and so you ultimately control most of what you feel. Pick the road, the third of the lane, the time of day or night or the company you choose to ride with. Its all yours to tune to your liking.

The only variable left is how long do you need to be out there, to be riding at your own pace in order to feel like the ride has reached its fullness? How long a ride will it take to satisfy your lust for the experience of The Ride?

When I was a single Roadbum it had to average a good thirty miles to even qualify as a ride. With groups it seemed the ride had to be longer. Much longer. I was given the nickname Marathon Harv after a certain nighttime sojourn I led brought us to the Minnesota state line. This was back when I lived in Milwaukee. Some riders complained I'd gotten us lost. My friends knew I was loosely following the stars.

So what comprises a satisfying ride? I think its being in the moment you'd planned for when you started. Sometimes creativity needs to work in one's favor but the general rule is we have expectations for each ride. If we meet them it becomes a memorable experience.

I'm married. I've got soon-to-be four year old twins to think about. Time is less my own than it ever was. I've resorted to skimming a little time here or there in order to get some time in the saddle. Subconsciously I must have come to the conclusion something about the ride had to change if I was to capture the same satisfaction I used to find in the longer rides.

I had to rediscover what it was about the ride which has always drawn me in so completely.

When the Honda Express came along the little scooter turned out to be a hoot to ride. The little bike's bare minimum capabilities not only brought back the livelihood of the ride it somehow managed to compact fun into shorter distances and thus shorter spans of time. It felt like starting over again. Fresh.

When I got the Vespa LX150 I could have gotten the GTS250. I passed on it because it crossed an invisible line which would have put it in the same category as the other full on motorcycles I have. If it can get on the expressway its a motorcycle as far as I'm concerned. I've got several of those. I don't need another. No, the line had to remain or I would be confusing the issue. And I'm not selling the others. The Harley carried Annette and me on our honeymoon nearly eleven years ago. She loves that bike for sentimental reasons. The Nighthawk is hers and her decision alone regarding whether it stays or not. The Yamaha has been with me twenty years. The only bike I've ever named. Tamera is "the other woman". She looks as good as the day we met. The GL is something I haven't decided about just yet.


The Harley.

These bikes require being ridden longer distances on principle alone. They warm themselves into the ride in a different way. Some people say bikes like these need to "stretch their legs". Short rides on Tamera and the Sporty just don't feel right. Unsatisfying.

The Vespa can be ridden short distances or long because it distills the whole riding experience in a different way. It imbues a sense of getting back to the roots of why we ride, in each ride. Its just fun whether you're going to the grocery store to pick up odds and ends or riding straight through a couple tank fulls worth on a Saturday.

A new cup filled with good vintage wine. Not like the adolescent thirst I once had, a craving to just go go go, but a more mature interest in the full body of the ride. Lesser roads on the way to better roads. For me this Vespa puts more fun into all of it.

It goes to show the ride is what you make it.

The Roadbum


CodyandMichelle said...

Hey old scoot, that was yesterdays blog, you left your comment on the wrong one, you're giving out bad karma for this days awesome blog. Delete that one Harv!

CodyandMichelle said...

Ok, now for todays blog, thank you very much.....all I know is this, I wish I started riding years ago. I took the GT out to stretch her legs today on a 70 mile journey along the waterway. Stopped and had some lunch, rode back and saw this blog. I like to ride, but Harv you Love to ride! I tend to get bored here in Fl, It's so crowded, there really is only 2 place's to go, that's along the ICW or the ocean. I dream of hills and twisties, of rural places with little traffic, nicer people, and side roads filled with pleasant surprises and God's gifts of nature around every bend in the road!
I'm frustrated by living here, so is Michelle, we ,as you know, cannot wait to move to NC!
You are so good at writing, that reading you invokes many different emotions. Todays emotion is ...frustration! I want to be in that same Zen like mindset you seem to get in every time you ride. i've heard that as cold as MN gets, it's also beautiful and there are many remote areas to ride and get your Zen on. This summers vacation is much needed, we will be in beautiful places in which to ride..we can't wait and i can't wait to feel what you feel. It's not always about the ride Harv, many's where you ride that makes it so!

Combatscoot said...

I can understand where you are coming from, but I also understand Cody's lament, too. Many of the places I have lived, I could get-in some really good riding within 10-20 miles of home. However, here in Florida, it takes a bit more determination to enjoy a ride, and sometimes a bit of traveling to find something resembling curves.

American Scooterist Blog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
American Scooterist Blog said...

Thanks Cody, I can't delete it. My first reply laid out more than I expected to write initially. I went back and reread the last to posts and thought of a more appropiate response. I can see where Old Scoot is coming from though. Nothing more than a response based upon assumptions. I'll forget it if you will, OS.

Cody and John, man I feel for you guys as far as not having the twisties but you are still able to ride a longer season than I can. Just being out there is worth the ride. I used to ride some boulevards back in the cities. Parkways now and then. Very straight, very trafficky. But they were still a joy. Just puttering around in the breeze. You guys get to do things like that while I sit here and watch snowflakes cover the yard. As long as I know you guys are riding, I know I will too. Eventually..


Anonymous said...

I like your blog very much. We live in the same area. Can you check my personal bog and leave a message? I am wondering if we can meet together in the nearly future.