Tuesday, November 26, 2013

There's No Such Thing as Forever

mattole road motorcycle
Mattole Road, Humboldt County, CA, March 2011
Since my teen years, from when I would ride my bicycle far away from home, running away from the loneliness and hurt of being an "unwanted stepchild", life has been a road. It's been a linear journey of going from one place to another and making turns down different paths.

I had grown up knowing that "forever" never really meant forever.

So when I was finally faced with the saving grace of being permanently anchored to something that I could grow from, I vowed to do something that my mother and father never made good on, honoring the sanctity of a promise.

And yet as with my mother and father, life brought me to another fork in the road, albeit 20 years later.

At least my mom and dad each recognized that you can't save a sinking ship.  And they've been around long enough to know that honoring something doesn't really get you anywhere.  I tried to be the hero that kept the ship afloat, and when people asked me how things were going I always told them all was well.  I wanted to know that I wasn't going to be like my mom and dad.

"It's about time!" each of them told me when they found out I had finally abandoned ship.

Some people have been able to remain committed to another person or to another institution or even to a specific brand of motorcycle, for the rest of their lives.  They even express that commitment by tattooing its name to their bodies.  But at what price does that commitment cost?

What other opportunities of growth and enrichment are we depriving ourselves of by remaining fixed to something?

Why do we make promises knowing that we can never predict the future?

And why I would believe that this time is different, and that this time really means forever?

If I can gradually eliminate "stuff" from my life, to the point where I become more transparent, more in touch with myself, and more reliant on my own faculties, then why do I need security?  Why do I need the promise of forever?

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Monday, November 18, 2013

The Rush to Judgement

sportbike riders
Some years ago, when I was a Harley rider, I'd hear from other Harley riders about the "idiots" on sportbikes. One of them was sure to tell me about the guy they saw riding 100+ MPH down the freeway weaving in and out of cars.

"They give motorcycle riders a bad name" they'd say.

Now that I ride a sport touring bike, I don't get many Harley riders coming to me with that sentiment.

I do, however, still hear people in general tell me about the idiots on motorcycles. And true, there are idiots out there.

But is 2 seconds really enough time to judge someone an "idiot"?

I've ridden my motorcycle over 100 MPH on a number of occasions. I even did that on my Harley. But I don't do it all the time. In fact, I rarely do it.

I'll bet however, in those instances when I rode that fast, someone saw me and told their friends about the "idiot" they saw on a motorcycle.

I was having a day when I felt rebellious, angry, or had a wild hair up my ass.  I think everyone has those days, even Harley riders.  It's not fair to label me an idiot for 2 seconds of whoosh that sped past your eyes.

In all fairness, it's not just Harley riders who point their fingers.  I've witnessed sportbike riders complain that Harley riders are inexperienced posers who can't handle a motorcycle.

Why do we rush to judge and categorize people as idiots?

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Monday, November 11, 2013

From Vanilla to Me in 60 Seconds

5th & Redwood, San Diego
Since returning to San Diego last month from our six month motorcycle trip, Sash and I haven't done any joy riding. Motorcycling has largely been a means of transportation.

On the one hand, after riding across the country, I suppose it feels good to just relax in our native Southern California and put more focus into our Internet marketing and publishing work. And even though we did a lot of work on the road over those six months, we still lost a lot of productivity with having to travel from state to state.

As I took my Honda ST up a hill this afternoon in the quiet and quaint Mission Hills community, I came to a stop sign and the sight of moms dropping off kids at a park for soccer practice. I then realized how connected to the hip I am of my motorcycle.  Perhaps when you get to a point where a motorcycle is the only way you ever get around, you start to lose focus of its recreational points.

Oh, I still enjoy riding it, and I wouldn't give it up now. But because the motorcycle has become so much a part of my life, I don't see it as recreation anymore.  Where one rider awaits the weekend to take his Harley through the back country, my ST is being ridden everyday just to help me take care of daily living.

If anything, driving my pickup truck is an escapism.

But I don't want that kind of escapism.

I actually like the idea that I'm so joined at the hip to my motorcycle.  I realize that other people see me as either pathetic for having so little, stupid for throwing everything away, or brave for not having a safety net.  But it really feels like escape when I have nothing real to stand on but my own two feet.


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Friday, November 1, 2013

Only Dead Riders are Unsafe Riders

Hearing someone tell me to "ride safe" as they bid me goodbye hasn't ever found a final resting place in the synapses of my neurons. Yet, I continue to hear those words from people and they continue to fire around until at some point my conscience tunes them out of focus.

"Of course I'm going to ride safe!", I think to myself.

But what the Hell is safe riding anyway?

Is it correct to say that only dead riders are "unsafe riders"?

If I'm able to ride a motorcycle and still be alive and well, then aren't I a "safe rider"?

Does it really matter if I wear gear or not, ride fast or slow, drink alcohol or iced tea?  As long as I get to my destination in good condition, then I rode safely, right?

Think about helmets.

There are riders who wear helmets with the highest safety ratings, yet some of them still died in motorcycle accidents.  On the other hand, there were riders who wear novelty helmets (skid lids), that also got into motorcycle accidents, but suffered little to no head injury.

If being alive and well is the end goal of safe riding, then I suppose it doesn't matter what helmet you wear.  If you're still riding your motorcycle, then you've done just fine, whatever you did.

It's only when you die in a motorcycle accident, where it was your fault, that people can point to your helmet, point to your speed, point to your lack of training, point to your electronic gadget distraction, point to your handlebar mounted cup holder, and everything else under the sun, on why you were an "unsafe rider".

 

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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...)