If you came across this post title on a search engine and surfed over hoping to see some stuff about about B & D, S & M, M & M's, and so on, you'll be disappointed. If you don't know what those letters mean, good for you. I think. You may want to find out for your own protection. Here's a bit of help. M & M's are candy. I just threw those in because they seemed to fit and I wanted to watch myself type. You still need to be wary of the other letters.
For example, you may one day find yourself strolling across an empty parking lot just before dark. Before you a mountain of a man on a red K bike with a Pennsylvania plate pours into a parking space nearby. Pulling off his helmet, you can see his face. It looks innocent. If you look closely, though, you'll see his habitual leer trying to burst out around the edges of that face. You'll see him pull some leather pieces out of the bike's tail trunk. Walking towards you, his innocent look tries to get even more innocent.
"Excuse, me," he says. "I'm making a leather riding garment for a 'friend' and you're about their size. Would you mind trying this on so I can get an idea of how it's gonna fit?"
That's when those letters above should flash like warning signs in your brain. Three other letters should light up in Hi Viz retroreflective yellow-green. R_U_N!!!!!
Ah, but I digress. I should have shown more restraint. Which is, after all, the point of this post. Not the bondage kind, but the mental kind. I know the two are sometimes impossibly tangled in some Twisted ( Roads ) minds, but bear with me. Successful riding often involves exercising restraint.
Isn't it interesting how those of us who ride a lot often find that the line between our riding behaviour and that of our personal lives blurs? I've written this before about riding:
It's who I am. It's what I do.
That isn't meant to be some sort of melodramatic statement. What it means is that I learn things while riding that I can bring back to my life otherwise. I learn things in my life that help me to be successful at riding. I tend to live hard. I spend a lot of time on a bike. Pretty soon the two become almost indistinguishable from each other. Thus my statement about it being who I am.
Learning to exercise restraint is a useful tool. In fact, it's hard to survive long if we don't. Here's an example or two from a couple of days spent riding for work this week.
I know, this is a baby toy. It's stretched across the front of Ryan's car seat. If you push one of the frog's eyes the thing plays one of three songs. Every kid seems to need to take some portable tunes along for the ride these days. I call it Ryan's iFrog. Anyway, the batteries were wearing down. I decided to stop and get some new ones while I was out and about riding for work.
Ryan's mother is a little annoyed by the iFrog. However, Ryan's mother is also my daughter. So the amount of restraint I needed to show was a little less than one might normally expect. Just like in riding it's all a matter of calculated risk. I figured the odds were in my favor so I went for it.
Ok, ok. I can hear what you're thinking. Show some restraint of your own, already. Don't tell me you've never done something similar. I can see the horns poking out of your halo.
Here's Elvira behind Gateway Mall in Springfield. You will notice she is not alone. The van wasn't there when I arrived. In fact, there was no other vehicles around me. That's one of the reasons I chose this spot. I also figured that the curb and the trees would encourage people to park elsewhere more convenient for getting out of their car. It was actually a cold and gray day but I was shooting in Raw format and warmed the picture up a bit in Photoshop. Makes the contrast between the black bike and white van a little easier on the eyes.
I'm heading back to the bike with batteries in hand and a couple of laps around the mall worn off my riding boots. I try to get some exercise besides pushing my luck. Staying in some sort of shape helps with riding a motorcycle. Round is a shape but it's one I'm trying to avoid. It's another example of how exercising restraint helps one to be a successful rider. I'm trying to push away from the table a bit earlier these days.
Anyway, I'm in my riding gear and carrying my helmet. Halfway between the mall and my bike I encounter this old man. He puts his hand up and slaps me on the shoulder. Then he tells me he parked behind my bike to help protect it. Or some such bulls**t. So now I have a choice of how to respond.
Several options cross my mind. One of which is to warn the guy that if he ever touches me like that again he and his arm will be going home in separate bags. Plus some other things that I won't mention because I don't want to have to put a parental warning on my blog.
What I actually do is force a smile and walk on by without saying anything. Who knows? Maybe the old guy was some shell shocked veteran like in yesterday's post. It wouldn't really have done any good, anyway.
The same thing happens on a bike, doesn't it? We always have to weigh the return versus the cost. Another driver does something that offends us. Then it's decision time. You know what I'm saying. You see what I mean about riding and life being intertwined? In either case it's a question of how far past the end of our noses we look.
Incidentally, when I was taking a picture of the van and Elvira I saw this old white poodle in the front passenger seat of the van. It saw me and drooped down into the seat. Kind of like,
"Hey, don't look at me. I only work here and I'm just trying to live out my days in some sort of peace and comfort."
I assured the poodle that I wasn't holding it responsible for its owner's behaviour. It look relieved and promptly settled back into napping on the seat.
Here's another example of learning restraint from riding that proves valuable in life.
Those of you with a romantic flair might think I was buying flowers for Katie. The floral shop is empty and Katie hates to watch the flowers die. Just concentrate on the parking space. This is downtown Corvallis. There's one word spray painted on the street next to the yellow curb. It simply says "cycles". Presumably it's for bicycles judging by the rack on the sidewalk but I would argue that Elvira is a cycle. Don't know how parking enforcement could win that argument.
I like the spot because there's elbow room. Parking and walking is just fine by me. I think it was Robert Frost that said:
"I'd rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself than to be crowded on a velvet couch."
Anyway, the point is that riding reminds me of the value of living simply. I'm not saying that a person shouldn't have "stuff". What I'm talking about is showing restraint in not dedicating our life to the pursuit of "stuff". It's hard not to live simply when riding. We simply can't take much with us. It's us and our surroundings. Leaves some concentration for things like the way the air feels, the way things look in different lighting, and so on. For me, that's the value of living simply. The ability to immerse myself in the journey. I pray to never lose the wonder of seeing all the small and beautiful things around me. Both in riding and in life. Again, the bond between the two.
Looking across the street I watch this woman in a Mercedes finally pull into a parking space. She has circled the block a few times waiting for a spot close to her destination to open up.
There was another empty spot when I took this picture later. When I first saw her things were more crowded. It's always hard to know where another person is coming from as a casual observer. To me it didn't look like she had any trouble walking. She looked about my age but was much better looking! Of course, helmet hair always puts one at a disadvantage. I could be totally wrong but it seemed her and I were approaching the morning from opposite viewpoints.
It was time to get some coffee and return some phone calls. Some of you may have noticed the Starbucks at the far right of the block. That wasn't where I went. I know that's my usual modus operandi as evidenced by this picture I took on Wednesday at Washington Square. It was 48 degrees (f) before windchill. Hot coffee was welcome as I made some phone calls.
Just because I USUALLY stop there doesn't mean I ALWAYS go there. If you want to get your exercise by jumping to conclusions, that's okay by me, though. A couple of doors to the left of Starbucks is the New York Bagel shop. I sat outside with a cup of coffee and a toasted chocolate chip bagel. Restraint is a fine thing but one shouldn't get carried away with it.
I find it fascinating to reflect on how my riding and life have become so entwined. For some people riding a motorcycle is a hobby or a sport. For me it's a way of life. More accurately, it's a major part of my life. It's been a journey of over four decades so far. I hope it continues for a while longer, yet.
Saturday will see me winging towards Hartford, Connecticut. That's where corporate headquarters is located for the USA divisions. I've been invited for a week's worth of management training. I probably won't post but the G11 will get a workout. Stay tuned for later.
Miles and smiles,