Standing in the yard with the dogs this morning I could see fog on the mountain. The scooter moves toward it like a compass needle points north. I feel the draw. And I feel the pressure of responsibility to work, or take care of the incessant business of life. A friend suggests I abandon work and go for a ride.
While standing here making the photograph of the road disappearing into the fog I’me struck by how infrequent it is that I feel disconnected from responsibility, free from the thoughts that I need to be somewhere or do something. Riding goes to great lengths to help detach for awhile. I suspect many experience that riding freedom. But I wonder what true freedom feels like. Or even if it exists at all.
I had to revisit a piece I wrote for Motorcycle.com called Riding and the Taste of Freedom. See how my thinking changes. Or doesn’t.
All the ice is gone along with most of the loose gravel. The Vespa can easily move along at 25mph which allows plenty of time for sightseeing and rubbernecking. A little throttle and the scooter runs at 35, then 45mph. Fast for little wheels on dirt. Especially when it’s periodically covered with a skim of muddy clay.
The muddy road is slippery. Almost as bad as snow in places. The street tires on the Vespa don’t help. It’s the second time I wonder out loud why I didn’t mount the winter tires this year.
Back to the sense of enslavement I can feel at times. I try and think of the last time I felt I didn’t need to be anywhere or do anything. It happens. But not often when I’m riding. What’s strange is often I don’t need to be anywhere or do anything. Yet there it is, imprinted on my brain. A conditioned response no doubt.
Can I be reconditioned after I retire?
Riding is the best platform for thought I’ve found in life. The only thing that comes close is a hot shower. I do my best thinking during those times. The extremes of weather — fog and snow in my case — interrupt the process a bit by overloading the brain with visual distraction. A daydreamer by nature, I find my mind wandering from the supernatural to the heroic in these situations. The camera follows along creating stories in my head that I’m thankful don’t make it to the viewer.
The Vespa scooter isn’t the perfect machine for these roads. At least not the way I have it setup. The suspension is more than adequate but the tires are lacking. I’ve ridden a half dozen motorcycles through these mountains and appreciate their indifference to most any road surface or obstacle. I’m also painfully aware of their ponderous, lumbering nature compared to the scooter for almost any low speed or foot powered maneuver.
Perhaps I need to explore a dirt bike more akin to those I rode as a kid when 125 or 175cc was more power than a boy would ever need. The smallest dual sport bike I’ve ridden through here was the BMW F650 GS or the Kawasaki KLR. Both lovely to ride but heavy compared to the Vespa.
Odd what goes through my head while I’m riding. Or when I’m pounding out a post in the middle of the night. I’ll have to visit a palm reader to figure out what’s going on. Did that once before. A story for another time…