Thursday, March 16, 2006

Sedans don't go VROOOM!

AAAAARRRRRGGGGHHH! Rain and more rain. Only one word to describe the ride today. WET!! Normally in this part of Oregon we have two seasons. Winter and Road Construction. Right now it's going back and forth between Winter and Monsoon. On top of it all the weather people are saying we could get snow again tonight and in the early morning.

The rain was vigorous this morning. Visibility was down to a little over a quarter of a mile. Picture a rain forest with heavy water mist blocking out the sky. That's what it looked like. Only this ain't no rain forest. It's the asphalt jungle and it's cold. The good news is that my waterproofing held up. I've had really good luck with the Nikwax products. They make a wash-in formula that does a good job of restoring water repellency in a garment. There's also a direct spray for spot treatments and for things you don't throw in the washing machine.

I think it's easy for people to get a slanted idea from reading this blog. Some folks still think I'm some sort of crazy thrill seeker. And that's ok. I'm not really put on this earth to make people like me. I try to be kind and help others as I can. It would be nice, at whatever final reckoning there is, to be regarded as having made the world a little better for having been here. At the same time, I'm dancing to my own beat. There's a saying that goes "Those that dance are considered insane by those who cannot hear the music".

That's all right by me. Not all will hear my music the same as I will not hear theirs. As long as we have no evil intent and respect each other life will be good.

I've already addressed why some of us "hardcore" people ride so much. I also discussed how we developed the skills to ride in such harsh conditions. What some people might consider to be "riding on the edge". The post was called "Know your limits".

That post covered the "why" and "how". Now for the "who".

Most of us are pretty much normal people from all outward appearances. We're family folks or have the qualities to be so. In fact, we care deeply about those who love and depend on us. That's one reason we take our riding so seriously. There's an inner urge that compels us to make whatever music we make on a bike. It's as deeply ingrained as is the need to breathe and eat. Therein lies the struggle. This urge needs an outlet. Our families need us. We owe it to our families to be as prepared and as skilled as possible. Some might say it's riding responsibly. That word means different things to different people. Depends on the limits of your skills and how you view risk acceptance.

Some people are homebodies. A friend of mine is like that. Content to spend his life taking care of others. Loving, sincere, sensitive, and reliable. God bless all people like him. The world desperately needs more like him. Most of us hardcore riders are slightly different than my friend. Wally drives a sedan to work. Whereas Wally is content to be sort of wistful about it, we have set out to actually FIND adventure. At the same time we know and honor commitment. Think about it. Riding in the weather we do, sticking to it despite adversity, staying with it until we master it. Isn't that perfect practice for committing to other human beings?

For me, personally, although I try to embody the qualities of Wally, I've never quite been able to BE him exactly. Wally's an innocent. I'm cursed with being a little bit of a rogue. It might be a fault on my part but I enjoy the feeling of being the Dashing Hero. It feels good to be the object of the wistful look or sigh. I don't use it to look down on others. It just makes me feel good about myself. That, in turn, better enables me to reach out in support of others. I've even had the privilege of being the defender and protector of the innocent in two countries. That has been even better.

All in all, we're pretty much like everyone else. We have families to support financially and emotionally. It's not that I live to ride. I just ride to where I make a living. We commute like everyone else. We just choose to do it with flair!

Speaking of which, time to tackle the wet ride home. Vrrroooom!


Steve Williams said...

Good post Dan. It raises some difficult questions about who we are as individuals. That's the problem when you "wake up", you face yourself in the mirror and ask "who is this?" and even more difficult "what should I do with this life?".

Riding is important to me on a lot of levels and it has opened a door of perception for me. But it will not answer the questions about why I am here. I can relate to your idea of the dashing hero but I am always left with the question---"What is the battle I am supposed to engage?".

I think these are spiritual questions that people have always wrestled with when they wake up. There are many roads to take and the challenge I guess is to be open to the right one....


irondad said...


Thanks for your comment. I would like some day to have coffee ( or hot chocolate ) with you in person. You seem like a person who can actually think and experience inner reflection. It would be refreshing and valuable to me.

Granted it is always a struggle to know which road to take. I look at it this way. At whatever final tally happens, will I have given back more than I took?

To me, it means that I am free to find whatever adventure I can without causing harm. To balance it out, I need to give back. I have chosen to do so by being a very active advocate of, and participant in, motorcycle safety education. I feel I am helping save lives. On top of that, if I can get them started correctly, I am also helping new riders find a way to add enrichment in their own lives.

This weekend I spent two very long days doing an instructor prep workshop. 11 more new folks being prepared to teach motorcycle safety. I really get nothing out of this past the enjoyment of helping them find what they seek. It's just the road I have chosen to add to the universal karma.

As far as the battle: For me it is a battle against complacency, mediocrity, and blandness. I don't want to go through life unaware and uncaring. There are so many people already doing this that anyone reaching out for more is considered an exception, or a 'dashing hero".


Steve Williams said...

You can be sure that if I ever make it out to Oregon I'll be sure to look you up. That's quite a scooter trip but you just never know.

The idea of tallying up at the end to see if I've given back more than I've taken is a central question in my life. I try not to focus on the math but instead concentrate on each action as it comes along. If I do that then the tally will be ok.

I think what you are doing with safety education is important, essential, and dare I say----noble. It reflects ancient traditions going back to wise men, shamans, masters, and today mentors. Sharing experience and expertise in a formal "ritual" is one of the most powerful activities of being human. Bravo for the work you are doing.

I got up this morning and prepared my usual bowl of cereal and sat down to watch the beginning of a DVD that Kim got from NetFlix---a documentary about Carlos Castenada. I read "The TEachings of Don Juan-The Yaqui Way of Knowledge" in the early 1970's and remember being fascinated with the story. Some of it still resonantes in me somewhere today.

So I'm watching the TV for a few minutes and the narrator is talking about living your life as if each moment was your last. Making decisions as if in 5 minutes I would be dead. I sat there thinking about that and realized riding is like that at some level. Every car I pass is a potential death, every turn, every action I choose. And I prepare and manage the ride knowing that and I find life distilled to something powerful. And then I thought "Why am I sitting here now? Is this what I want to be doing in the last 5 minutes?" I got up, put on my riding clothes and rode off in the 20 degree sunshine. That was an hour ago and I had to stop here at the library to thaw out my hands and thought the typing would speed things up!

It is a beautiful day. Am I adding to the universal karma? Probably because I am happy and that energy radiates to everyone.


Kellye said...

You touch down pretty close to the reasons I ride too. I have been accused by some of wanting to learn to ride a motorcycle "to show off".

It's hard to explain to them that I couldn't care less about what other people think. It is being able to look into my own mirror and think, "I am willing to go where others only dare to watch my back. I am risking my life - there is no way I can be a coward and still manage to love this mad thing. I am getting closer to the person I want to be."

I'm like you Dan. I just want to be the hero in my own story.