Who Am I?

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A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

05 October 2012

Flying and Riding - And Why I Love My Sportster!

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.


Clare Westby said...

I think there’s really more sense in letting you choose between two different motorbikes than making you pick one from flying and riding. Both are soul-satisfying, as you’ve termed it, in their own right. See how easy it was for you to proclaim that the Sportster is the best among your bikes? For a veteran like you, it wouldn’t be hard to love such a ride – hot looks, Harley sound, and its power which no starter can handle easily.

Anonymous said...

well said. My uncle had a 1968 sporty and road me around when I was 4 5 6 to 11 every time I saw him. So at the age of 39 I got a Bike a sporty 883 and rode it 5 ft 7 inch and I went to a Harley dealer and what did I buy a 2013 883 superlow and did the kit to 1250 buy s&s and ape bars and air filter and custom pipes made the way I want. I think the sporty is the best bike because you can make it what you want it to be. why spend 5000 to 20000 for 2 to 3 inch of frame or bike ??? the sporty is the better deal easy to work on . I will always ride my sporty and not fall into the big game. my sporty will beat most big twins out the gate till 80 fast for me and I still have more time rideing and money in my wallet lol. Harley made the best has to get you hooked to keep buying a game. think about the service you have to do on the big twin you can't even change your clutch cable with out taking apart the floor boards or pegs and exhaust or other parts to move out of the way. It is not easy to work on big twins the best bigger motor I think was the 1984 to 1999 with out the twin cam chain nightmare .... So buy the best easy 2 inch less 10 grand less Sportster !!!!! buy smart and save your money to do what you want or make the bike what you want the best sometimes is the best. look how easy the sporty is to work on from 1957 try that with anything else. Cars today you cant work on anything easy. non-serviceable made today don't fix replace. sporty is so easy to work on and Harley make that engine to last the bigger you go the more you spend and you are not getting simple long lasting masterpiece. the sporty you get it all a blank canvas. just my thoughts. happy riding frank d cherry hill nj