Sunday, January 29, 2006

Shake, rattle, and roll!

Kabooom! I wake up and listen. Kaboom! There it is again. Thunder. Heavy, powerful, forceful. I imagine a Greek God hurling lightning bolts. Defying his subjects to resist His power. My house shudders under the impact. I look at the clock. 3:45 AM. My alarm is set for 4. Sleep is done.

Go to the kitchen. Make the coffee. The wind is slamming rain into the windows. Today I am off to Portland. The reason I am up so early. As I sip coffee I question my decision to ride. I must, it is what I am. It is what I do. I brace myself. It is now 5 AM. Time to mount up. I am stunned to find that the storm has taken a break. At times I even see stars, now. I ride North for an hour and twenty minutes. I thought it would take longer. Traffic is light so progress is fast. The College will not open until 7. I join the Director of our training program for breakfast. It is colder in the restaurant than outside. My cell phone rings. It is buried somewhere deep in the pocket of my "Stich" jacket. The jacket is tumbled up on the seat beside me. I find the phone and answer. Who is calling at 6:35 AM? It is Laurie. She is my dear friend. As well as an excellent instructor in her own right.

We have started classes already this year. The demand is ever growing. Laurie is in Albany which I left at 5 AM. The first class of the year at the Community College. She sounds so excited to be teaching again. We have been idle for three months. She called to share her joy with me. I hang up and feel greatly cheered. I leave Shari's and arrive at the College. It is still dark but daylight is timidly stepping up. Two instructors are preparing the parking lot and the bikes for a class of their own. I exchange a hug with Patricia. Shake hands with Elias. We rejoice in our shared insanity.

The morning update is for newer instructors. The afternoon is reserved for veterans. One of the new instructors has ridden his bike. On a break I look at the parking lot. The storm has come back. The nap it took has renewed its energy. Rain does not just fall. It seems to have a mission. It wants to rinse away that which is not strong enough to withstand it. The twelve motorcyle students do their exercises in these conditions. We would not ride if it were unsafe. Ice and lightening are unsafe. Heavy rain is reality. What motivates these students to brave these conditions? I ride but I am driven by years of committment. It is my destiny. This is a beginner's class. How can beginners have the same drive that moves me? Are they feeling social pressure? Is "fitting in" this important to them? Do some have an inner need that can only be filled on a bike? I can only shake my head and wonder.

It is time for the veteran instructors to arrive. Three of them have ridden. One of my charges for the afternoon is Jeff Earls. He and the others are totally soaked. Yet still smiling. These are my brothers of the heart. Jeff is an Ironbutt rider. This year he placed third in the Rally. Jeff is a hero to me. I am humbled by his presence. Awed to be teaching him, today.

At 5:30 PM I am ready for the ride home. The storm has exhausted itself. The mission of cleansing has been completed. Token drizzle falls but I scoff at its weakness. I arrive home and realize that, for the most part, I have ridden in very little rain. Have the weathers Gods been put off by my rantings? Have they realized they will not conquer me and ceased their efforts? Do they admire my courage and give me a break? Or are they setting me up? We shall see. I watch the news at home. There was a 2.8 earthquake a little while after I left Portland. Perhaps it was the Gods laughing. It could be that they are amused at what is in store for me. The Gods play and the earth shakes.

I keep thinking of the students in the rain. A comment has been made on this blog. About one who "has the soul of a biker". I take that to mean "motorcyclist". Is this "soul" developed by experience? Or is a person born with it? Does this inborn "soul" start without a goal? Is it an urge looking for an outlet? Is this soul programmed for motorcycles only? Or could it be satisfied by something else that comes along first? We trained over 6000 students in our beginner classes last year. Do all of these have this "soul"? Is the value diluted by numbers? I suspect that people can ride and not have this "soul". I believe that it is something special. Only a few riders have "the soul of a biker". So many questions. I am in search of enlightment. Please share your thoughts.

1 comment:

Mad said...

All day! All day long I have been mulling this over. What makes one guy a bloke who rides a motorcycle now and again and what makes anothe guy a biker? I don't think I have an answer. I think there are a few common variables but these are perhaps more symptoms than contributing characteristics.

A fascination with motorcycles, their mechanics, how to improve them seems a common symptom. As does an urge to improve, to get better and to further hone biking skills.
A certain fascination with danger or risk maybe?
I'd say something about riding regardless of poor weather but the more I think about that the less I think it's true. I know amazing riders who don't go out in the rain. Why? They just don't want to get wet.

It gets harder the longer I think about it. Perhaps having not been riding very long I'm not qualified to answer the question.

Why's everyone else so quiet? C'mon Gary shake it up. ;)