I took my first ride of 2004 yesterday afternoon. I have to say, I've been walking around with a shitty grin on my face ever since. After the back surgery, a micro-discectomy, on march 18 a ride was out of the question. Just as well because the weather in WV sucks until mid April anyway. Ah, but yesterday was perfect. It was 75 degrees, and not a cloud to be seen. About 1:00 my favorite ridin' buddy, Curt called me up, and I thought, "well, better to have someone around the first time I go out." 20 minutes later Curt showed up at my door on his ultra-bad Aprilia Mille R. Yeah Vox, the Italians do something right.
One of the things I love about motorcycles, and guns as well, is the ritual. You don't just hop on a bike and ride. Before you ride, you check the oil, check the chain tension, check the tire pressure. We call it the pre-flight check. Once that's done it's time to strap on the kevlar jacket, boots, pants.
Curt and I talk about the general direction we want to go (we never plan anything), then it's time for the last minute stuff, the important stuff. I knee by the bike and say a quick prayer, thanking God for the day, the freedom, and the joy. Then I strap on the helmet, checking the strap twice, put on the gloves and sunglasses, and mount up.
Good Lord what a day. I head out in front, and lead the way out of the twisty neighborhood roads. It's a slow muddle through traffic till we get to the good stuff, but it's ok because it's the first warm sunny day, and the girls aren't wearin' ... I mean... the scenery is excellent. We couldn't resist stopping by and harrassing one our riding buddies who was workin' on a day like this. He cussed us and spit, which to these guys means something like, "I love you guys, be safe, I wish I could go with ya."
Wasn't long after that we find ourselves at the last stop light in town. I love this light. It's like a get-outta-jail light. Once you're past it, there is nothing but twisty empty roads for miles. It's the gate to Heaven. I knew I was gonna take it easy, because the roads were still dirty and I was outta shape, so I told Curt not to wait on me. He didn't. Green light. We're gone.
The ride that followed was awesome. It took a little while for me to get back in the groove. The focus and situational awareness required for riding a bike is taxing. It's often compared to that of a fighter pilot. It's a mental and physical workout that's hard to compare with anything, other than perhaps a fight. I know its dangerous. I know my wife worries. I can't give it up though. I feel so close to God when I'm on that bike. I feel so alive.
I hope that you have something like this in your life. Something you can do to recharge your batteries, retrain your mind, and refocus your soul.
Next time I'll go into more detail on the good parts of the loop we took yesterday... but alas today is game day. I have preparations to make.