Dad and I decided to do one of our infamous “stop, drop and roll” excursions yesterday; stop worrying about tomorrow, drop everything that is currently clouding your mind, and roll hard for destinations undetermined.
We usually prefer solitary riding to riding in any type of group environment, as anywhere there is a group, there are differing agendas that need considering, and that feels a bit too much like work.
Riding in groups is like riding in a car, except you saw your car into 3 or 4 pieces, then chain the pieces together on 20 to 50 foot chain sections, THEN give each piece a mind of it’s own. Because you are still chained to the swinging pieces, you are always having to watch them, as well as every other obstacle on the road, and it sucks the joy out of the ride.
Not that we’re opinionated or anything.
But there are some exceptions, and one such guy is our buddy Fletch the potter. We rolled out early in the morning to hammer out the dreaded highway miles enroute to the twisties, but yesterday was different. Instead of it seeming like all the big rigs and hustling traffic on the interstate were out to “get us”, it seemed to evolve into a stately dance, with the two bikes filtering effortlessly between the hurtling vehicles. It is always a particular thrill when a normally stoic truck driver accelerates to flash a thumbs up at the sight of a sleek black dog on the back of a motorcycle, my head on dad’s shoulder, lips peeled back and ears popping in the wind. That we can bring pleasure to someone else by simply doing what we love to do brings a joy beyond explaining.
Then we peel off of the interstate and begin carving through the remnants of fog yet to burn off from the morning sun, beginning the climb up into the hollows of the Ozarks. Even though this is what we came for, we still haven’t completely found our “mojo”; I can tell dad’s trying a little too hard. Me? I’m totally chill, cuz I know the drill; sometimes you can’t look for the flow, the flow has to find you. All you can do is put in the time, and as we all know, the ride doesn’t even begin until the second tank of gas.
All that wander are not lost, and all that lean are not off balance; things begin to “click” and the lean begins to increase in proportion to the speed. When our task exceeds our ability, the result is anxiety, when our ability exceeds our task, we get bored, but when our task and ability match, we achieve a state of “flow”, and flow we do, every curve an exclamation point placed somehow appropriately in the middle of the sentence.
After a stop for a greasy cheeseburger, of which I get my own, (hold the veggies, thank you very much), we turn back south towards the Casa. This is my favorite part of the day, what photographers call “the Golden Hour”, where the rays from the setting sun filter through the still bare branches of the trees. This “hour” seems to stretch for an eternity up in the Ozarks, giving us plenty of time to get back down into the flatlands before full dusk.
The peace is interrupted by the the sight of multiple sets of flashing blue lights up ahead; has there been an accident? Deer strikes are very common in the area, one of the reasons we like to be out of the hills before dark, but no, this is a sobriety checkpoint, with two unfortunates sitting on the side of the road in handcuffs. As much as I abhor impaired drivers, I have to question the constitutionality of illegal search; anyway, I’m glad that they didn’t check me, as I would have blown a .20, being fully intoxicated on mountain air.
That’s why dad’s the designated driver; I can’t be trusted not to over-indulge and go into a flouncing fit, as is my tendency to do.
Then it’s back on the interstate for the slog back home, but it’s different from this morning; we’ve been on the road for almost twelve hours, and fatigue makes cowards of us all. But we have to fight the urge to speed up and get it over with and instead slow down and appreciate it for what it is, just another part of the same journey, nothing more, nothing less.
So here we are, safe back at the Casa and already wondering when we can do it again.
Because we know we’re not promised tomorrow, we ride today.