Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Playing Hookey

After the inlaws left late Sunday afternoon I got that first extended ride in. There isn't much to say other than it was glorious. Cold once the sun dropped below the horizon but still just as I remembered the rides last year. You can't keep a good thing down.

Now on Mondays I usually have a three hour rehearsal with a band. But the weather called out to me. The day either broke or came close to breaking sixty degrees. You just can't pass that stuff up. My wife got home, loaded up the kids for their gymnastics class and I rolled the Vespa out into the driveway.

I headed straight west. A full tank of gas and a smile on my face.

In the matter of a single day some of the country roads I'd been on the day before were changing. Sand was pushed further off the intersections and people were beginning to show life outside their homes. It felt like a kind of revival was happening throughout the farmlands.

I cruised toward my farm initially. Its just a twenty mile jaunt with two main routes to it. If you go north its a straight shot. You just keep driving straight until you get there. But the other route is much more interesting. You can roll along with woods coming right to the road in some places. The land itself rises and falls more than the other path. One thing that makes a big difference is that the Mississippi runs beside the straight road. Within a few acres. The hills are much more gentle than the road I began on yesterday. The lay of the land, as they say.

The wind was calmer on the second ride. Enough so that I could hear the bike's single lung huffing along happily. I cruised at an approximate sixty per and just enjoyed another late afternoon. Sweeping gentle bends let me lean her over the way I like. An evening sun, twisty roads and the scooter have a way of settling my spirit. Some people garden, others cook. I ride.

You get to that place in your mind where you tune out the unimportant things and focus on the ride itself. You look further ahead. You pay better attention to your lane placement. Books and blogs about riding seem to drift in and out of your thoughts.

I think about what people have written in the riding blogs when I ride. I think about how this view reminds me of something Steve Williams has photographed. Or I'm reminded of Dan's words about lane location and speed. I look far ahead and the view gets bigger. I see where I'm going much better in this frame of mind than I might in the other life away from the bike, that I live.

These are the times when the imperfections of the road seem to vanish. Its the ride, the panoramic sightseeing that is unlike driving a mere car. Where too many things are available to influence your mind away from the world you're actually travelling through. But then, we don't take rides like these in cars anymore.

I manage to do it on the best rides. I manage to do it on the early season rides too. I get myself lost. You know how it is. You take an offshoot of the road you're on and meander for no other reason than to see what it looks like from that hilltop however many miles away. But you have to see because its so high compared to everything else. And the road looks like it leads right to the top. So you turn off and head for the view.

And its another great panoramic vision you don't regret deciding to take in. Then there's that other road, weaving down off the main you just came up on. You can tell there's some weaving because what you see spills off at a bend through the trees. Before you realize it you're having to make a quick decision or negotiate a U turn. No cars ahead or in the mirrors. You look over your shoulder. Its clear. Signal, lean hard and blip down a steep hill to explore some more.

I did that for a few hours yesterday. Just following the best roads I came across. I got lost and didn't regret it at all. The surprise of recovering my bearings when I popped out on familiar tarmac is something which always causes me to smile. If I knew the names of the roads I'd been on, I don't think it would matter. I don't want it layed out with that much clarity just yet. Maybe the name or number will matter more when I feel like I've mentally mapped out the places I've ridden in relation to the local landmarks. But for now, there is no urgency to know.

I think the band knows what I snuck off for...