Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Unwritten Language of Motorcycling

leaning a motorcycle into a curveNumbers like 12, 89A, 191, 212, 550 might not mean anything to most people. But when you drop two wheels onto long twisty stretches of asphalt, a pattern emerges from those numbers.

Despite the oceans that separate our continents, and despite the differences in language and culture, there's still an understanding common to all who set out on two wheels. The G-forces that pull you back, the centrifugal-forces that pull you down, the friction of rubber against the road, is a feeling that can't be explained but yet needs no explanation.

"So what were the most memorable points on your trip?" I asked Gary, who was on his last day of a five-month long motorcycle adventure across the United States.

"There was the Million Dollar Highway between Silverton & Ouray (US 550), there was Highway 666 (Coronado Trail US 191), the 89A through Sedona and Jerome, Bryce Canyon in Utah (SR 12), and the Beartooth Highway (US 212)." he answered, though not in those exact same words.

He had just read off some of my all time favorite roads ever. Even though Gary comes from England, from another continent, from another culture, and even though he's traveled all across these United States, the first roads that left his breath were the same roads that I would have spoken of. Gary might have been a foreigner, but I could easily recognize him as one of us.

I smiled and nodded my head in approval.

the lookout roadhouse lake elsinore
Later on, Gary was telling me about a moment when he stood at a viewpoint, photographing some really cool twisties, and someone asked him what the heck he was photographing.

There's an old saying, "If I have to explain, you wouldn't understand." But amongst those of us who understand, it doesn't have to be explained.

6 comments:

  1. Glad you got to meet up with Gary. It has been fascinating reading about his trip. You are right when you say "but I could easily recognize him as one of us." His love for riding speaks to all bikers.

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  2. Steve:

    It was great that you managed to meet up with Gary. I wished that we were closer. You're right, we are all "one of us"

    bob
    Wet Coast Scootin

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  3. You know, I have a theory that there are actually more foreigners riding cross country across the U.S. than there are Americans. For all of us that love big twins, it's probably the most common answer to "Where would you most like to tour on your bike?"

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  4. The twisties between Silverton and Ouray are some of my favorite---scraped my footpads many times on that road! Love it! claire@bikerclaire.com

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  5. With all the places to ride the choice is tough. At one point riding around the world seemed like the best option, but first I think it's important to learn your own country. I'm looking forward to spring, it should be a good season.

    Brady
    Behind Bars - Motorcycles and Life
    http://www.behindbarsmotorcycle.com/

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  6. Go to Fox Rothschilds LLP on 1800 Century Park East and arrest counsel serving Evelyn Rothschilds new world order.

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About Steve

San Diego, CA-based motorcycle rider who likes long road trips, old rustic bars, craft beer, and tough women. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, writing about the mysteries of life. (Read more...)