Saturday, June 30, 2007

Rides and Friends

For years I've always thought about those guys with whom I've ridden in the past. We all seemed to live a harder lifestyle back then. It might have been what life foisted upon our shoulders, it could have been circumstances which left us thinking there were only so many choices. We all had our demons. Some survive, some are just memories now.

The Ride itself was an escape. Not unlike a drug, but better. We ran from ourselves, met one another on the road and kept on going. Without much needing to be said, we knew the basic plot lines of each man's book. The storylines ran similarly for every one of us. How we handled those demons was each rider's own problem. But when we were on the road we were together and yet completely alone.

It didn't matter what you rode, just that you rode. Each hour on the bike meant precious time to mull over a day or week's transgressions. Both your own and others' toward you. For some the miles seemed endless. Tortured souls trying to get it right, I suppose. Maybe I was one of them.

Others cleared their minds much quicker. Loose ends tied neatly without much fuss. They stayed with us on those rides. Maybe by their sheer presence they willed us to untie the knots which frustrated the rest of us in our own personal lives. Simple questions, simple answers. But to get from here to there, the place where the answer lies is one thing. To use that answer wisely is entirely another.

So the rides continued.

Gradually we rode away from our problems. We let them die. And when we did we were able to return. Not just from a day on the bikes, but to our emotionally more balanced selves. Because no matter how far away you go there is a place where you should park the bike and stay. Whether it be the old homestead you choose to see in a new light, or a new home you've never seen before. The ride itself was the way to get here from there.

I think about how those rides saved us. The way they let us run from ourselves and gave us the opportunity to return. If you've ever felt the anxiety of just... getting... on with the ride, the Let's get going already(!) and returned as one who found relief, you know what I'm talking about.

While I no longer suffer those states of mind and spirit, tonight's ride with a good friend over longer than the usual distances (of late) reminded me that I can still savor what those rides once were. This time without the tumultuous baggage I meant to sort through on them years ago.

Part one



Steve Williams said...

Harv: I always consider the ride more a process of letting go of demons than running away from them. Riding has effect of draining away the mental baggage and allowing me to see things in a new perspective. I feel lighter and alive.

I suppose it would be possible to run but I would imagine it would require a healthy dose of anger to ward off the calming effects.

Riding without any baggage opens your eyes to things like this excellent post. You've got your head on straight.

Thanks for sharing this stuff.

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

gary said...

Like planets circling the brilliant sun of this motorbike experience, it's fascinating how we view riding from the perspectives of our own personal orbits.

Riding to work is making the best of a necessary evil. Riding home is my everyday escape, sometimes and adventure, and almost always a pleasure.

Riding on the weekends is more of a social experience. If I'm not riding with a group, I tend to seek out other riders, to share this experience we all love in our own ways.

Nice piece, Harv. Can't wait to read part II.

Ride well,

bryce said...

Riding has been one of the most therapeutic things for me.

For me, riding is a matter of heightened concentration. It's an effort that is tremendously rewarding and pleasurable. However, the other attribute of this focus and mental exertion is that I can shut off everything else. It is, for me, a form of meditation. I am focusing entirely on the moment and the things in it instead of the past or the future.

Combatscoot said...

My parents have been after me for years to take the same nerve medicine that my Dad takes. I don't see where it's that effective, compared to riding. The side effects of riding are much easier to live with, too.

CodyandMichelle said...

I don't get that deep into the Zen of riding. Maybe because I haven't been riding as long as you and your fellow bloggers. I get more Zen like with a good workout. I just know that i like to ride and it's fun. Possibly because I'm not crazy about the area I live in anymore. I'll let you know more after i get back from my trip. Stay tuned to my blog.
Darn good article though Harv! I wish i could get more into that same spirit as you when I ride. Basically, I'm happy when I ride:)

Steve Williams said...

OK Harvey. We've waited long enough----where is Part Two?

It must be fantastic if you have been reworking it all this time! *grin*

Bryce said...

A month between updates? Sounds like you've got a lot going on.