Friday, February 24, 2006

Freedom Machines

I am way behind at the office. Deadlines are looming. It is time for an early morning. Leaving home at 5 AM will put me in the office by 6. The morning is clear and cold. The moon is an orange crescent hanging in the sky. A few stars keep it company. There is a light frost on Katie's car. The air is cool and moist. My ST finds it quite nourishing. The bike feels strong and eager to run. It is interesting that I have not named this bike. I do not wish to keep it impersonal. Naming it has just not happened, yet. The other vehicles have names. Why have I put off naming the ST? Is it because a name may be limiting? With no name the bike can be whatever I want? Or am I just lazy? I should find a suitable name for my dear steed.

Riding this morning is so awesome I change the plan. Work can wait a few more minutes. Instead of turning for the freeway I head straight South. The old highway passes through some small towns. Each has their own unique character. It is a fine morning to ride back roads in the dark. At a small town named Halsey I spot a small grocery store. I think of a ride Katie and I took. We stopped at the store and bought juice. Katie had packed some small snacks. It was a nice day and we sat outside. Off to one side of the store was a stack of milk crates. We sat on over-turned milk crates and visited. We talked of the roads we had travelled. We compared notes on things we had seen. A simple interlude sitting on milk crates. It seems these crates have many uses. A place to sit, an impromptu stand to put things on, a carrying device for a bike or scooter. Oh yes, actually transporting dairy products.

This is not really about milk crates. It is about how a motorcycle helps us distill life to its essence. How all is reduced to its simple elements. For me the bike helps in finding peace. During this ride I thought of past rides. One of our favorite things to do is get on the bike and just wander together.

Riders say that a car is an insulating box. I think of it as a world within a world. The inside of a car is a world of its own. The boundaries are clearly defined. It even carries its own environment. I believe for the most part people want this. A house is another world with set boundaries. The same with office buildings or workplaces. True, not all people are the same. I just think most people need this security. Being out in the open and on their own is unsettling. This is shown when they travel. The world of the car is parked. They run into the world of the restroom building. They eat at restaurants. A place where they are inside a world. In a place with boundaries cleary defined. The walls provide security. There are occasional forays into the wide open. These are exceptions, not the rule. Another blogger has called these worlds "boxes". From one box to another.

On two wheels we are in the open all the time. We are accustomed to the feeling. We savor the freedom. "Don't box us in!", we cry. Walled-in worlds are confining to us. We are not merely observing our surroundings. In contrast, we are a part of them. This is why we so easily stop to admire our planet. It is not like stopping a car and getting out. This requires a conscious transition from one world to another. For us it is like stopping when walking. We are already in the scene. We just pause. No transitions are required. No effort to step from one world to another. I think of how often Katie and I have sat on curbs and rocks.

It is so natural when travelling on a bike. We can carry little with us. We have learned to rely more on ourselves. It could be said we are more self-sufficient. When we achieve that state we need little else. Our security is in ourselves and what we carry with us. This is the wonder of riding for me. Sit on a log, sit on a rock. It matters not. We make our own surroundings. We do not need props to create an illusion. What can be said of "box" people can be said of riders. Not all who ride are free of pretending. The riders I write of are the hard core. Those who spend hours in the saddle. I write of those of us who live on a bike. Those of us committed to riding and the journey of discovery. I also write of those who have the same heart. Miles are not always necesary. Having this heart is.

Motorcycles are called "freedom machines". For me this means liberation from constraints and pretending. From posing and illusions. Others may have great need for these. I will go my own way. In an opposite direction. Yes, it is good to be riding. I will cherish this freedom as long as I am able. I wish you the same.


Gary Charpentier said...

Boxes within boxes, bro.

Ride well,

Steve Williams said...

Glad to hear someone else is busy and has looming deadlines. I don't like it when things get to the point that I'm going to work early and staying late just to keep all the plates spinning. But that's for some other blog....

I've not named my scooter yet but I've never named any of my vehicles other than "the truck", "the car" and now "the Vespa". Perhaps it is related to my father never using my name. I was always "boy" or "the boy". Never Steve. Now that he is gone I miss hearing it.

I have one new name. there is a little Italian food store in town that I ride to. They finally asked me my name saying they didn't think they should keep referring to me as "Scooter Boy". I had to chuckle since at 52 I thought I would have at least graduated to "Scooter Man". Maybe it is something unique to scooters. they now refer to me as "Scooter Steve". Another test of my masculinity.

Your rides with Katie sound wonderful. I hope one day Kim and I can do similar trips. We used to do them in the car but even that has been on hold for the last 8 months as she goes through treatment for some late term Lyme Disease infection. One of the negative outcomes of too much time out in the woods....

I agree that riding is the great distiller. It forces almost every situation towards it essence. It's just an amazing experience.

And it is an experience I think the majority of people will never have. the need for the insulating box being one and just a slew of other ego, pride, vanity stuff working too.

So I'm with you, I hope to ride for the rest of my life.


Mad said...

I can't get names to stick on my bikes, I've tried with every bike I've had with no success.