When I fly I think to myself, “This is my most favorite thing in the whole wide world!” And when I ride my motorcycle I think, “This is my most favorite thing in the whole wide world!” Honestly, it’s hard to choose between them when it comes to which I prefer more. Do I even have to choose?
There is something very soul-satisfying about riding a motorcycle that I cannot quite put into words. I mean, driving a car is – or can be – fun. But riding a motorcycle is fun in a much different way. You are so totally involved with the machine; each hand and foot has its own control (just like a helicopter!). And while riding, you’re hyper-aware of your surroundings as well. You’re…well…connected. The risk factor may play a part in the attraction but honestly I don’t think about it – or try not to.
Many riders report a feeling of “freedom,” which begs the question: Freedom from what? Yes, you do experience a feeling of being totally unfettered and unencumbered. There is always a strong temptation to just head for the city limits and keep on going. Only our responsibilities (read: debts) keep us from doing that. There is the freedom from the “cage,” which is what some motorcyclists call cars; the freedom that lets you smell the cut grass or the pine trees…or when the kids ahead of you are sharing a joint. (Yes kids, if the state trooper behind you has his windows down, he'll be able to smell your weed.)
I’ve owned a lot of bikes, and in fact own three now. But none have been more satisfying than my Sportsters. I know, I rhapsodize about the Sportster endlessly here in this blog, but I do love the “little” Harley. It’s such a basic, honest motorcycle. It’s not flashy or overly-complicated or even technologically advanced. It’s just an engine and two wheels…a simple, two-cylinder, air-cooled engine at that. Two exhaust pipes; one carburetor. No fuel injection (although later models have it). It is “powerful enough” for me. I can (and do) work on it, but I haven’t really had to - it has been dead reliable, giving me zero trouble since I bought it back in May of 2008. Has it really been that long?
This past August I was heading south on Route 287, coming down through Montana on my way home from Washington State. It was a gorgeous morning, and the road was a winding two-lane through breathtakingly beautiful country – I had not yet experienced the disaster of Yellowstone Park and thus was still in a pretty good mood.
I was listening to my iPod. As I’ve said, sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. Mostly I just prefer to listen to the sound of the engine and be alone with my thought. But this time I had the music cranked up as I came around a curve and saw a sign that I was entering the town of “Harrison.” And just as I spied that sign…I shit you not…the Traveling Wilburys song, “Handle With Care” started up. Now…full disclosure…among the 200 songs in this particular playlist on my iPod I have a lot of Beatles’ music as well as a smattering of solo stuff from Paul McCartney and George Harrison. So the odds of this happening are admittedly not astronomical.
Coincidences like this might not mean much to a normal person, but they entertain me greatly. They remind me that this life here is to be enjoyed. And I like to enjoy it from the seat of a motorcycle. Sometimes it's the simplest pleasures that are the best.