Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Edge of the Cliff

The Weather Gods are smiling on me. The forecast is for high pressure. We have had foggy mornings and sunny afternoons. This is due to continue for the next week. The ride is pleasurable but somehow unrewarding. I have seen you folks use an expression. "Routine becomes boring". I am feeling it. It is hard to write about "routine". So I have been thinking of this. That is the great thing about my ride. There is time to think deeply. It is MY time. I must not let the thoughts take over. There is still the environment. It punishes lapses in attention. Still, there is time to think.

Too much time, perhaps. I am warning you ahead of time. This post could be longer. Please use the restroom before we leave. The topic is not unique to me. I acknowledge those who have gone before me. I merely wish to share my thoughts. It is my hope that this serves you. As I use it to know my heart, may you, also.

I think firstly of the riders who have appeared this week. Where were they all winter? It seems they were itching to ride. The bad weather has served as a rope. I grew up around horses. We would hobble a horse to keep it close. The sunshine has released the rope. There are many bikes out these last two days. I am happy to see them on the one hand. After all, riding is fun. It lifts the spirits. I wish people this happiness. I teach many new riders. For a day I felt happy. It was good to have company. Yet now I somehow feel diminished. It is hard to explain. My words will be a personal searching. Please forgive me if it does not flow smoothly.

Most people seem to ride to be part of a group. I enjoy the company of other riders. For me it is a single event. Hook up, ride a while, go separate ways.
I am an individual. I socialize. At the end I am still an individual. I am an animal that roams. Others are like animals that herd together. I mean no disrespect. It is only a way to describe needs. A herd is a fine thing. It provides protection and companionship. For those who need such a thing. For me it is smothering.

On the other hand, I do not feel I am better than others. We are all Children of the Gods. In the thinking deeply I have made a discovery. I perceive a possible weakness in myself. It is as yet unidentified. Signs point toward it, though. I feel good about blazing my own trail. I take pride in meeting challenges. It feels good to be "different" from the majority. Riding in adverse conditions while few others choose to. I boldly state that it makes me feel more of a man. I realize it has become addicting. I crave the feeling. People call me crazy. They tell me I have lost my mind. I have been called a freak of nature. Comments become like "highs". I cannot wait to get the next "fix". This is a thing apart. I refer not to the actual feel of riding. This is an attitude. Knowing how I am perceived by others. There must be a flaw in me. Something lacking that makes me crave this fulfillment. Why do I need this so? It will bear further pondering.

There is something worse. I wrote that I do not feel I am better than others. I believe in my heart that this is so. Now I am not sure. Consider. Some riders belong to a group. This group sends a message. To belong you must look like me. Wear little gear like me. Ride the bike I ride. If you do this I salute you. If you do not, I ignore you. You will be beneath me. There is a need there. There is emptiness to be filled. I have always considered this to be wrong. Now the mirror turns to my own reflection. I see these riders who come out in the sun. I find that I call them "lightweights". They appear to me as not serious. They are playing at this. Their money spent opens choices to us. But they are not serious. I am starting to think they are not like me. I am shamed to say I am looking down on them. It was not always so. What was the change? I have found a group like me. The serious riders. The heavyweights. People I have met through this blog experience. Before I was a group of one. Now I feel connected to a larger group. You who read and write these blogs are my group. Riding day in and day out. Sometimes it is impossible. The desire is there. Lightweights are horrified by bad weather. I think of us as the "heavyweights". The serious riders. We have no time for those only playing at it. I know this is wrong. I know that the labels are not always accurate. I have become guilty of what I despise. It is troubling.

I now think of challenges. Why do we crave them? Why are we so easily bored with routine? Does riding make us this way? I think not. I think it is a small picture of the world. Some of us ride because we need to conquer and grow. Some ride only to belong. They never feel what we feel. They are content to follow. Leaders and followers. I saw this in action this morning. We are down the freeway. A man in a pickup is living in the fast lane. He does the speed limit. Not a bit faster. I go around him. Now he matches his speed to mine. Not tailgating, just pacing. I decide to toy with him. I am now well over the speed limit. I do 85 mph. The man follows. I pull into the right lane. He follows still, moving with me. I slow to slightly over the limit. The man matches me. I slow below the limit. The man passes at the proper speed. Not a bit over. He will not take the risk on his own. While I am in the lead he follows. He will follow me. He will blame me. I grow tired of the game and scrape him off in traffic. It is a perfect example.

Gary has written of he and the Baron. How they encountered road rage. Gary rose to the challenge. Some said he should take the "wise"course. Let the man go. Be meek. Live to play another day. I believe people use "wise" to equate with "safe". Say it. Take the safe way. Get a "good" job. They mean a "safe" job. Physically and financially. Humans crave safety. Our inbred instincts remember being hunted. We live in fear of the unknown. Things are structured but not in our control. We strive to insulate ourselves to no avail. Let nature shrug, and all is in ruin. It takes courage to make our path. A path that others do not choose. This path takes us away from "safe". Our exploration may take us to the edge of the cliff. This cliff edge is a frontier. A frontier where we find passion. A place where we feel belonging with fellow explorers. A place that only we know. Where those seeking "safe" will never venture. A place where we are called upon to find new powers within ourselves. A place that takes commitment to succeed. It cannot be half-hearted. I feel it is only at the edge of the cliff that we find what we seek. You know it in your heart. You have felt it.

We seek challenges because we need to. It is only by this we grow. We are not stupid about it. We use our skills. We strive for new ones. Only in adversity are these achieved. To do anything else would be stagnation. Intolerable for us. We must strive. We must grow. It is the only way to find satisfaction. It is who we are. It is what we do.

There is much time to think as I ride.


Gary Charpentier said...

Hello Dan,

It's way past my bedtime, but I've had an interesting day. Insomnia is just one more price we pay for living life to the fullest.

I really liked this entry. Your sentences are short, sharp, and crisp. Yet they convey exactly what you are thinking and feeling.

More intriguing, is that you portray exactly what I have felt in similar circumstances. Bravo.

I'm a daily reader now, Dan. You've come a long way in a short time. Nice job.

Ride well,

Mad said...

Yeah I agree with Gary, your posts are excellent; your writing has come on leaps and bounds since I've been reading your blog. In fact it makes me rather ashamed of my half-arsed attitude to my blog as does Gary's blog lol).
Again there's so much to respond to in this post I don't know where to start...
I must admit that as the weather is improving and more bikes are appearing on my commute there is a part of my brain that sneers and says "where were you when it was raining sideways?" but there's another part of me that goes "Hurrah a bike, a bike!"

Mad said...

Grrr my typos are terrible I meant to put "as does Gary's blog lol" in brackets.

irondad said...

Thanks for the kind words. I told the wife it was good to get positive feedback from the "Guru". This blog has been a vehicle for growth. Being responsible to it and not wanting readers to feel like they are wasting their time has helped. Where I usually think about a bunch at once, this has forced me to think more in depth on something to find relevance.

You successfully blend narration and relevance. It is uncanny how we do think alike. Sometimes I will think of something and see you have mentioned it. I come to your site for interaction. It's ok. I enjoy you having the big burden while I sit quietly in the background.

Thanks for all your comments. I see you put more stuff on your blog. I shall have fun catching up. Like the picture. Nice to put a face on the "Madman"!


ART said...

Well said Dan, only us brave souls can understand this. I purchased my motorcycle for one sole purpose to commute to and from work. Riding my bike cuts down time spend sitting in traffic and I get to spend more time with my family. I no longer complain about gas prices because I get at least 70mph compare to my car at 30mph. I made a mistake one time when I made a comment on one of the bike forums "Summer Bikers are Gone" that most of my friends bought high performance sportbikes for status and luxury. When ask if they would continue to ride all year I get response such as these:
I don't ride when it rains, my bike is too beautiful to ride, it's too cold. Winterization is very popular to this folks. They also love to accessorize. I bought my bike for a purpose to ride all year round. My friends are seasonal riders and I respect that. As for me I'm addicted, it's what I look forward to each morning. By the way it was 27 degree on commute this morning, Sunny though. At 70mph maybe at low 10's. No brave soul out there just us...Have a great weekendend


irondad said...

Love your enthusiasm! I guess one of the things we find is that motorcycling is a way to express ourselves. What we are expressing varies radically. As long as we honor each other as a group there is room for all.

Mad said...

Hmm time to blogroll you methinks Irondad :D