Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Conflict Between Love and Comfort

Sash and the Indian Scout along Palomar Mountain Road
Roads in and of themselves are not dangerous. They're simply layers of pavement that remain still. It's the riders themselves that lose control. Yet, motorcyclists often describe one road as being more dangerous than another, and often speak of roads reputed to be so dangerous that some riders refuse to ride them.

When I lead Sash to Palomar Mountain Road last winter, I felt compelled to pull off to the side to give her some tips about what she would encounter. I didn't want her to underestimate the switchbacks and decreasing radius curves and end up dead. Many riders have crashed and died along that road.

"Be careful" I said to her, thinking that somehow, she'd ride more carefully.

But in thinking it through, I felt a conflict. I love Sash for her tenacity, detemination, and guts, yet here I was asking her to be a little more intellectual so as to address my fear. The truth is, it's not fair to a rider that they tone down their enthusiasm to suit someone else's concerns, even if the sentiment was out of genuine care. When someone else asks me to "ride safe", I usually don't give it much thought, nor take any offense. But after having logged hundreds of thousands of miles myself, I like to think that I can make my own decisions on staying safe.

At the root of all this, is a conflict between love and comfort.

We all have things we love, but we also want to feel comfortable. Can we love something and set it free, but at the same time control it when we're worried?

We see it all the time in other facets of life...

  • You love your new boyfriend because he's so creative, spontaneous, and free thinking, but you want him to put on a shirt and tie when taking him to meet your parents.
  • We love sports figures who battle to the death, break records, and pump their fists in victory, but we want them to be humble and civil in public.
  • You love having your buddies over for a night of poker, beer, and jokes, but you want them to keep it quiet because your wife is sleeping upstairs.

In fact, it was Sash who decided a couple years earlier that we ought to wish someone to "ride fun" instead of "ride safe" because it seems to be a more neutral valediction.

But that doesn't always relieve the conflict between love and comfort.

The more you love someone, the more you worry, and the more comfort you seek. Setting someone free is not that easy, yet it's the letting go that mysteriously makes them come back.

These days, I've become more conscious about bidding farewell to a fellow rider. I catch myself wanting to say, "ride safe", but instead say something like "catch you later".


  1. This is so very true. I've been riding behind a significant other for over 35 years and feel I know the road probably better than they do and my comments about 'please ride safely' are often taken in offense because how would I know about a rode when I've just been a behind the seat rider. I can hear the engine when something is not right, I can feel the brake/clutch if it is not doing it's job and I have a genuine concern for not only the rider/the bike but also myself. I too speak it out of love and my partner now does not take offense to my remarks. Thanks for this advice's so true.

  2. Thank you for your first paragraph. I am tired of people talking of dangerous roads and I agree, the roads themselves aren't dangerous. They are continually trying to spend money in Oregon to straighten our "dangerous" roads, when what they really need to do it encourage people to pay attention, focus on the task at hand, and put down their cell phones.

  3. Keep The Shiny Side Up! We used to urge each other...


About Steve

A vagabond who hauls a motorcycle around the country in a toy hauler, earning a living as a website developer. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, craft beer, and/or public nudity. (Read more...)