So here I am with two sport touring bikes. The differences between them are many and varied. One's a longtime companion and the other's got my blood stirring in new directions. Elvira is all about bright lights and adventure. Sophie's more like being cozy in front of the fireplace. Adding to the complication is the fact that they don't stay on their own sides of the debate. Either one is more than capable of meeting somewhere in the middle. The core here really isn't the bikes themselves. When the dust settles they're just machines, after all. Inspiring as they may be. What's been intriguing is the inner reflection the situation's caused. I'm being allowed to make an honest self assessment of where I am right now. Will I be comfortable with what I find?
I've become more fully aware of how things work in other aspects of life. Here's an example. Let's focus on comparisons.
A big problem here has been that I haven't been able to totally unplug from one bike and totally commit to the other. That was the original plan, after all. I've sort of worn Sophie out and I wanted a new bike with ABS. Should be simple, right? Yeah, right. There's always this running commentary and comparison. All that does is to make things worse.
Elvira's toned and fit in every way. Technologically superior to Sophie in more ways than I can easily count. Sophie's a little heavier and her suspension's sagging some. The miles are showing. What great miles they've been, though! We've made so many memories together it will take Elvira a long time to catch up, if she ever does.
Sophie likes nothing better than to sit comfortably together and watch the miles pass by underneath us. It puts me in mind of snuggling on the couch and watching the fire. Not that Sophie doesn't like a good romp. She'll get in the mood to play and willingly go at it hard. Pegs will scrape and sparks will fly! Once in a while she needs new peg feelers as you can see in the photo. Spirited play is an accent to her life, though, not a primary goal.
Elvira's shaping up to be just the opposite. Hard play is her preference. Oh, she'll sit still and just cruise but I can feel her twitching. Despite having more ground clearance than the ST, it's surprisingly easy to scrape her foot pegs. The first time was with only a couple of hundred miles on the clock. We were heading up to the Astoria Column and flicked a quick right turn. Scrape. Just last Saturday, on an innocent "S" curve near Coffin Butte, the left peg scraped. Again. Maybe part of it's my comfort level with leaning a bike over. Some of it's that wide, rounded rear tire. I think a lot of it is Elvira's hunger for adventure. She's ready to go all the way in a heartbeat. So to speak, that is. I know where your mind just went!
God forbid I ever find myself without Katie for some reason and in another relationship. Will I have the wisdom to celebrate the unique wonder of the new person without making destructive comparisons? I'd sure hope so but who can say for positive? I'm beginning to see a big reason that second relationships fail. A really philosophical person could extend this thinking to a lot of different human interactions. Done right, comparisons can be really positive. Most of us do it wrong, I think.
Now we come up against another big thing to think about. Who am I these days? Maybe you don't care but I have this huge personal investment in the outcome!
I've always been sort of a swashbuckler. Like Raymond Chandler's fictional detective Philip Marlowe, I consider myself tough, smart, brave, and a little daring. There's a quote that my friend Laurie puts on her e-mails. It says that life is an adventure or nothing. I've lived by that thinking long before it became a quote.
Time is a sneaky thing, you know? While a person's off having adventures and conquering the world time just keeps creeping up on us. Nobody's totally immune. These days I look at myself in the mirror and see the effects of time's treachery. Dark hair still rules but the gray gains a bigger foothold every day. My birthday is coming up in early September. Age is relative. I don't like to put limits on myself by being fixed on a number. Like somehow that figure has to rule my life just because I've gotten there chronologically. Let me just say that the number of candles on the cake won't spur a call to the fire department but you could probably cook a hamburger on them. I'll spare you the rest of the graphic details. You get the picture.
Questions abound, begging for consideration. Is the slowness in warming up to Elvira just a lack of intimacy? Is the struggle to let go of Sophie only because of the long intimacy still missing with the FJR? Is age finally starting to show up by an aversion to change? Is the fact that I'm even thinking about such things a sure indication of getting older? If I was still a young warrior I'd probably still charging forward without a second thought. Maybe thinking about things means wisdom has arrived. Are wisdom and bravado conflicting elements? Or is it possible for both to mesh for greater accomplishments?
Are there bigger considerations?
Have I finally reached the point where I'm turning to comfort as a preference? Even worse, am I starting to be slightly intimidated by things that used to thrill me? Am I starting to worry that I no longer have what it takes to skillfully control a powerful bike? I can confidently avow that the answer to these three questions is a resounding "no!". At the same time, the fact that such a day could come kind of scares me. That really sums it up. Self assessment can be both fascinating and scary. Honesty leads to the truth. We may or may not like what we find.
The upside of the passage of time is that the process has its own ability to sort things out. Time will tell, as the saying goes. Answers will be forthcoming. For now one answer keeps ringing out. Go put some more miles on the FJR!
Miles and smiles,