Jun 21, 2010

Not Much Fun?

All Rights Reserved © 2009 Thomas W. Day

"That can't have been much fun."

I'm getting to work on a late October morning. It was raining fairly hard on the way in, so my riding suit is dripping wet and I probably look like something the cat decided wasn't worth dragging in. A co-worker commented on the weather, the fact that I was still on the bike, and his impression of my appearance.

I looked worse than I felt. Yeah, it was cold and wet, but my 'Stich kept me dry. My helmet, heated vest, and the rest of my gear kept me warm. My piddling commute is probably barely worth suiting up for, but I do and most mornings I enjoy the ride in as much as anything that will happen to me all day. In fact, I felt pretty good. Any year that I'm still on the bike as Halloween approaches is a good year. It won't be long before would be condemned to a cage or the bus, but so far was still on two wheels. I get a little taste of faster-than-natural travel, feel the bite of the coming winter, enjoy a few moments of the sensation of moderate competence as I maneuver my bike through traffic and into the parking garage in the morning's rush hour, and start up my day with the mild charge that I always get from being a motorcyclist. It was, in fact, fun.

Motorcycling is a physical thing. That's some part of why it's hard to explain to a non-rider. Intellectually, riding a motorcycle is pretty hard to justify. We get pretty decent fuel mileage, but tires and other maintenance costs probably make up for that. We don't tear up the roads, require as much space, contribute to congestion, and a few other advantages but, mostly, motorcycles are a rare event on the highway and those of us who ride barely manage being a blip on the traffic radar. We're on our bikes because we want to be on a motorcycle more than we want to be warm, surrounded by a crumple zone, sucking on designer coffee, yakking on a cell phone, surrounded by a high fidelity sound system, or lounging in a plush bucket seat. You have to admit, that's weird. At least, I have to admit it.

That morning, I had a boat load of stuff to do. I got out of the house early, hit the library, stopped at a friend's house to drop off a project I'd finished over the weekend, took the long way to work through neighborhoods and side streets. I managed to turn a 7 mile commute into a 20 mile journey. It was raining, 42oF, and in every way a dreary, depressing kind of morning. I, on the other hand, was having a terrific morning. I managed to hook first dibs on the new Elmore Leonard book at the library. I was pretty satisfied with the project that I'd been working on, but my customer/friend was blown away. I got paid and felt pretty good about it. The route I'd taken was pretty much traffic-free and I didn't have to mess with the usual culprits of cagers. How perfect is that?

I admit to being a little proud of the fact that I was doing something different every day. Something slightly adventurous. Something that takes a bit of skill to pull off day-after-day without incident or worse. It's arrogant or smug or conceited or damn silly, but I'm 62 and I don't get a lot of physical stuff to feel good about. I'm going to wallow in the few I get from here until . . . whenever.

Riding my motorcycle is just icing on the cake of living. Every day I get to ride somewhere is a pretty good day. So, screw the weather. Nuts to getting old. It might not look like fun, but it is. It is always fun.


Anonymous said...

I did that for a winter once - commuting to Newton from Lynn on the N. Shore. I felt I could endure anything. Coming across the Mystic R. bridge the hardest part was removing layers of big mittens to hand over the toll. RIding a motorbike is confirming of one's actual existence, in that you can tell you have not finally merged with all your comforts. And it was under a dollar to fill the tank.


Chris said...

Great article, and echos a lot of what I think about riding.

I also like the new site redesign. I've been reading on RSS, so I didn't notice until today.