Despite such a great and successful back to riding opportunity in 2006, it turns out I did not ride much after the great Steens adventure. For one thing, I had felt a great sense of accomplishment with that ride. It felt as if I were satiated.
Was my dream to get back to riding so short lived? Was it just a fad? Well, at the same time that I realized how great it was to be back to riding, I also realized I still had a long way to go to arrive at a comfort riding zone. Especially when riding on my own. It is an expensive sport, and I not only needed to buy the appropriate riding equipment, but also be able to find my lost riding mojo.
I remember at one point during this period that Brian McCarthy, someone I knew and perhaps could consider a friend, asked me a, to him, rhetorical question: “don’t you sometimes just want to ride your bike out there, without a destination?” To me it was not a rhetorical question at all. It was and it is a crucial question that remains unanswered. His untimely passing in the fall of 2010 has brought these thoughts back to the foreground. Is the act of riding a means for getting out there, to obtain a sense of freedom? An escape machine from the oppressing bureaucratic way in which we live our lives?
Or was it for me to ride in a certain style, with equipment that largely surpasses the minimal requirement for a ride, surrendering to the details of the pleasure of certain mechanical sounds, the acceleration, the performance, and experiencing the sensations of the relationship of the most sophisticated machine with the terrain at speed? Perhaps a combination of both?
Brian attended college during the time Easy Rider was released. Inspired by the movie and with what it represented, I learned at his service, from his best friend, that while in college Brian attempted to transform a Triumph into a an Easy Rider machine. I then understood his, to him, rhetorical question. That was something he was seeking, perhaps. Or once sought? And something I’m yet to contemplate as I often find myself too deep into the details of the ride itself. There is always a destination, a route, and a style to be accomplished, or something to be documented.
I appreciate the perspective that Brian had brought to me at that time he asked the question, as my still very new bike was sitting idle in the garage for an almost entire year in 2007. But I only really understood what his question meant in the fall of 2010, after Brian’s passing. This is something to consider. I’m not there yet. But it triggered me to start this blog, and come up with the name: I’d rather be riding. Even if my reasons for riding may be completely different than what Brian’s reasons for riding were.
Back to 2007, as this question remained answered, or actually unasked in 2007, other forces were distracting me from riding. With my two great friends Sierk and Chris, for example, I purchased a sailing boat (a 1974, 27 feet, Ericsson) and kept it in Portland.
But you know, as great as sailing is, the idea that this boat was confined to the Columbia river was not appealing to me. Sailing easterly up the river for about an hour with the wind, and then enjoying the into the wind ride back west was not enough for me.
My imagination of what sailing was all about was to sail the open seas, face a storm, go the distance. My dream would be to arrive at a port or marina that was different than the one from where I left. I appreciate the friendship, though, and that was the motivation to engage on a couple of hours of sailing in a month for me. But as fast as we ran that old boat at times, it got too old, too soon for me.
And for my friends as well, although for different reasons. For them it was competing priorities as their families were growing (as in having babies). So we started sailing less and less. By 2010 we only set sail a couple of times. Well, they did sail a couple of times. I did not at all, as by this time I was decided to devote more resources to motorcycles. By the end of 2010 we donated the boat and closed that chapter. And I started this blog.
So long Rosebud. Yep, that was her name.
No. It was not going to be a “I’d rather be sailing” chapter in my life. But I will reconsider sailing if one day it becomes the idea of going the distance. Adventure sailing! For now, I’m back to motorcycles. The sailing chapter is set on pause mode.
But everything brings some learning into the equation. I realized some parallels between sailing and riding. I like or imagine both the same way: going the distance, having a destination, going through the motions to keep it going smoothly and efficiently, and tallying up the miles. Not something my friends share with me. If I knew how to sail, and if I had the necessary navigational skills, I’d probably set out on a sailing adventure. For now, motorcycles are a lot easier mode for me to get there. And I can do it on my own, and that on itself adds something more to the ride. And I’ve done my share of solo rides, going places, spending the night or not, but at least arriving at different destinations during the ride.
Meanwhile, I still need to revisit the idea of riding with no destination. I still want to entertain this possibility and see what’s out there, beyond the destination. Easy riding. And riding solo at that.
Thanks for reading.