Monday, May 24, 2010

Spontaneous Happiness

I'm what you might call a fair opportunity rider.  I have seven year old twins so my opportunities to ride have to be balanced with all the other obligations family men have.   If we're smart we realize this is a time in our childrens' lives, our wives' lives which we will remember fondly.  If we do this thing right.

Somewhere back in the annals of this site I wrote about the rides becoming fewer but longer.  As it turns out this might be the best thing yet.  Granted these are usually two to three hour late night chunks of time, but the kids are off to bed and my wife is too.  What else would a night owl do?

A friend I've written about recently has gotten himself an '84 Honda Magna V65. An eleven hundred cc V-4.  Back in its day it was rated at 109 horsepower.  It's a clean machine and my friend knows how to take care of 'em.

Loren works twelve hour shifts at a local printing company.  One of those types of jobs where you work three or four days then you get three or four days off.  Sometimes the shifts are easier and one of us is calling the other to see about one of those evening cruises.  Last night was just that kind of night.  I think it was my turn to call...

"Hey bud, I have a question for ya."
"That's a statement.  What's the question?"
"I feel like riding but there's a big blob of rain showing up on the local radar to our south."
"...And this has ever stopped you... when?"

Loren made a valid point.  I ride a Vespa with a cut down large windscreen.

"Probably not very often."
"Probably almost never, Harv."  I hear him chuckle on the other end of the line.
" Is it certain to be coming over us?"
"Hard to say.  Might track slightly over St Cloud, maybe a little east of St Cloud."
"Then we'll stay west of St Cloud.  Besides, I've never seen your land."

My land is a little thirty five acre chunk of a once larger farm I bought about six or so years ago to plant a house on someday.  Different people own segments of it but it seems like I have the biggest piece.  One McMansion set in the woods to my north, a farm house with just a few acres at the bottom of the slope is to my east and an old ranch style home on ten more to my south.  This area is not McMansionville and I don't plan on building that kind of monstrosity for people to google at when they drvie by, commenting on the mount of debt the owner must be holding.  I didn't buy that land for any other reason than to have my "neighborhood" populated with every living thing indigenous to this region.   Don't get me wrong, I'm not an environmentalist.  I just like watching sunrises and sunsets on a horizon unblemished by rows and rows of slapped together homes indwelt by people who seem to move every five years.  You can't get to know your neighbors when they're moving out faster than you change cars.

In the country the pace seems slower. People put down roots.  They actually care about one another.  Not unlike the old city neighborhoods I grew up in.  But times have changed in the big city. 

In the country, time moves slower, more deliberately. 

So I rode the lx150 west down county roads and frontage roads.  Past the town of St Joseph.  Through the back door of Avon and continued west.  I broke onto a gravel road and found Loren ready for the ride.  The big Magna idling quietly.  We set out for an indirect path to my little piece of ground in the county.

Loren usually wants me to lead.  I think its because he doesn't want to lose the little scooter should he forget and begin accelerating in a moment of relaxation.  I can see it now.  Me seeing Loren's helmet in his mirror and his tail light blissfully growing smaller as it moves further down the road from me and my little one fitty.

The evening sky was amazing last night.  Strangely, a bank of clouds were to the west.  Blocking the sun from view. But directly above us those clouds broke.  Opening up to the blue heavens.  A row of ominous white billows collided with each other three quarters of the sky to our east, running south to north.  An occasional flash illuminating them from within.

We parked at the approach and walked the field where the corn had been planted last year.  At the edge of the flat, the beans had already gone in.  You get the feeling you're standing on a worn plateau when you look down the sharp slopes from this point.  Loren commented he was going to find a way to own land like this.  And you know, I believe he will.  He's that kind of guy. 

Back at the bikes we talked for a bit then headed toward Avon.  Flashes from within the eastern clouds to our left grew more frequent and brighter.  They began to topple over each other.  Crashes within the collisions sparked amazing lightshows.  I would be riding right into it before too long.  I could already smell it in the sticky over-hot evening air.  Bugs were plastering my legshield, windscreen and helmet like someone drubbing their fingers on a wooden desk.  Constantly. 

We parted at Avon.  He headed west, away from the storm.  I headed east.  Right at the storm.

I was alone on the frontage roads.  My eyes peeled for deer, dogs and coons.  I kept it down to fifty mph for the most part.  The sky went black.  The flashing clouds were now above me.  A constant patter of smashed insects on the 'shield and my helmet.  The occasional conk from a June bug.  Then the rain came.  I love these moments.

This was going to be the first downpour of this season for me, I thought.  But the rains faded to a drizzle.  Then nothing. Then faintly they started again and came steady.  But only briefly before becoming indistinguishable from the persistant glopping of bugs dying instant death on painted steel and plastic.  The windshield looked almost gooey.  Water and splattered insect remains pressed and streaked in the wind created by a moving bike.

Suddenly I was rolling up my driveway.  Once in the garage, listening to the tick of the cooling bike I hazarded a look at the front of my scooter.  Collateral damage for a great night of riding I hadn't even planned on a few hours ago.  This thing needs a bath.

Small price to pay for an unanticipated chance to ride.