Where Thought and Riding Meet

There's a weird, strange thrill riding in the sticks that's hard to describe. Part visual, part physical, part spiritual. The ride is important, an anthem to living, a meditation on feeling blood and breath course through the body. Problems, opportunities, secrets and answers unfold on the road. Those discoveries fuel my ride.

On the Road Before Sunrise

Did you see the sunrise today?

Vespa GTS scooter on the road before sunriseThere’s no hum to the road before sunrise.  Night slowly drains away before dawn as the sky begins to glow with the promise of another day.  I believe I’ve been genetically coded to witness this drama.  On foot, with the dogs, or alone on a path the sunrise is a visual symphony of tone and color that never fails to ignite a moment of wonder.

Astride the Vespa scooter it’s no different.  My spirit soars as the road reaches into the day and I’m reminded of the mystical world in which I turn.  All because I’m on the road before sunrise…

Thin Gray Fog

Does riding in fog make you nervous or feel unsafe?

Vespa GTS scooter on foggy farm laneTwo days in a row of the thin gray fog of morning.  At the same time it’s quieting yet exciting.  For me at least.  Out of the house an hour early just so I could explore a world shrouded in gray in hopes of seeing an elf or unicorn, the boundless thoughts of young unfurled by fog.

I love it so.

But fog does not engender those reactions in everyone.  Some feel nervous riding amidst the diminished visibility while others will never venture out of the driveway.

Vespa GTS scooter and morning fogFog makes the world fat with possibility.  Predictability are shrouded in secrecy behind the thin gray fog.  Imagination fills in the blanks painting a canvas of serenity or terror depending on the artist’s state of mind and experience.  One rider’s heaven is another’s hell.

I’m in heaven as I witness the quiet splendor of a local park.  I’m no longer in central Pennsylvania, I’m at the edge of the moor, or at the edge of the Brandywine in Middle Earth.  There is nothing mature or adult in my transformation.  I’m free to let go.  I’ve traveled far even though this scene is only a few hundred yards from my front door, a place I pass each day on my way to work.

Vespa GTS scooter on a forest roadHeading up a forest road left the fog behind as the Vespa moved toward the sunlight burning away the grayness.  As inviting as the road ahead seemed I turned around to be lost in the murk.

Riding in fog requires some extra attention and consideration of what’s actually happening in terms of visibility and making choices accordingly.  I was asked if riding in fog ever makes me nervous?  The answer is yes but seldom.  I can remember two times I was concerned about being on the road in the fog.  And both times was because of the severity of the fog — thick pea soup where I could literally now see more than 50 feet in front of me.  Once, on the road I had my visor up to listen for traffic I knew was hidden from view.  More than once I pulled over to consider a course of action and was delighted to emerge into the light.

The second time I was concerned in fog was similar except in addition to the thick nature of the fog I was riding a Kawasaki KLR 650 on an interstate highway where drivers are notoriously overconfident as they hurtle down the highway at the same speeds they travel on a clear day.  Finding the first exit was high on my list of priorities.

Sometimes you just need to know when to say uncle.

Vespa GTS scooter in Calder Alley in State College, PAI never did find a unicorn but did manage to entertain a giant flying fish.  In the thin gray fog anything is possible.  And for a time I relish the experience which always has to end.  In the scooter’s dream (and my own) the ride goes on forever.

Are you a fog rider?

Exploring Life

Does riding a scooter or motorcycle allow you to appreciate the small things?

exploring life graphicA comment on a previous post by Dar, author of the Princess Scooterpie; Adventures of a Motorcycle Diva blog, suggested that riding changes you in small ways.  I’ve been turning that over in my head for awhile and believe that’s absolutely true in many cases if not most.  Certainly it’s true for me.  And it has changed my appreciation of the world.  In short, riding has helped me become a better exploring life.

I see the change during my rides to work.

Vespa GTS scooter in the fogSeeing fog out the bedroom window stirs an excitement I can only associate with youth — those times as a kid where presents or adventures were imminent.  Having just turned 61 it’s satisfying to know I still get excited by the little things.  And that wasn’t always the case.  Before I started to ride I missed the details of living.  Not sure how it happened but it did.

Riding through the morning fog I was aware of the changing flows of air, of temperature and fragrance.  Everything seems fresh and alive along the way — the utility poles disappearing in the distance and the sweeping yellow lines on the road.  I know they don’t mean anything but I see them.

The only fog is outside my head.

trees in the fogI write a lot about riding alone.  Standing in a field looking at these trees is a reason why.  I just wanted to look at the shapes against the foggy sky, the fences stretching across the field, the muted greens and yellows before me.  With another rider along I would probably not stop, not want to explain what I was looking for, or illuminate the trance I can find myself.

These scenes are part of exploring life.  They’re the noise and the music that remind me I’ve alive and walking on the earth.

Vespa GTS scooter with horsesOne last stop before riding on to the hospital and cardiac rehab.  If riding helps me see the little things, appreciate what’s all around me, if it’s pushing me to explore life, I have to say it doesn’t stop when I park the scooter.

In cardiac rehab I’ve watched myself respond to the gentle pushing and prodding of the staff to explore the boundaries by my heart attack recovery.  They’re testing my limits much in the same manner that I test them on the Vespa in snow or rain.  And I’ve learned to pay attention, watch and process experience into something useful.

I wonder if I’m alone in this kind of experience?  Are other riders in their head as much as I seem to be or are they just roaring on to work or on a little trip without much thought to anything?

How much has your scooter or motorcycle helped you to explore life?


Riding in the Rain

Are you comfortable riding in the rain?

Vespa GTS scooter in the rainI don’t worry (much) about getting caught in a sudden shower when the air is warm and home isn’t too far off.  I knew there would be a slight chance that a storm front would pass through when I left home but I was willing to take the chance I would get wet.  Riding in the rain and staying dry can be a critical issue when it’s not warm outside.  For me, anything under 80F can turn chilly when you’re soaked and moving along over 40mph.  I have a Rev’It rainsuit in my topcase that I’ve still never used but it’s there for those times when being wet and cold can become a problem.

The bigger issue for me today was the road surface.  It was slippery as the rain just seemed to spread the oil and road film around making handling dicey in places.  It never really rained hard enough or long enough to clean off the road.  This is where an ABS braking system would be a nice tool to have.

The ride home was uneventful in terms of safety and handling.  Aesthetically, it was fantastic to be out in the rain — really makes you feel alive sometimes.

Vespa GTS and Honda Nighthawk on streetIn town an hour before the rain started everything was quiet — unusually so for a Sunday afternoon in State College, Pennsylvania.  Made this picture as I left the scooter in one of the five motorcycle parking areas available in town.  Normally I park a few blocks away but the Last Cruise, an annual car show and through town cruising ritual closed off the roads in that part of town.

I was reminded once again of how the years are passing by.  I remember when the Last Cruise started.  Seems like a couple years ago.  Turns out this year was the 30th anniversary.

What the hell happened?