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