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GOING THE DISTANCE
"CALL ME GENE KELLY"
PHOTO BY GENGHIS
A WET DREAM: Pilotin' the 'ole shovel in precipitation.
"I'm riding in the rain
Just riding in the rain
What a glorious feelin'
I'm happy again..."
It was without question, the best ride of the year so far. The reason? It made me feel like I was The King Of The World---or at least, the Duke New York. "I'm the Duke of New York, and I'm A-Number-One!"
It's funny how a Harley can do that for ya, and it's inexplicable. How do you explain to a non-Harley rider, why riding a Harley 74 feels that good, that it creates the temporary illusion that you alone, control the world around you? Of course on a cognitive level, I knew that I don't.
After I climb off my shovel's saddle, I'll be just another anonymous schlub, schlepping along the sidewalks of NYC.
I'm just sayin' that the ride caused me to feel that way.
Who knows why riding a Harley causes that. Who knows why a specific ride may cause this feeling, more than other rides do, which may seem mundane by comparison. There really is only one answer.
Yeah, yeah, that's gotta be it. Picture the scene, man. I got up at 3:10 AM today, and started hackin' up a hairball. I'm gettin' over a cold, ya see? Coughing, nose running with sinus headache, I decided that it was a good idea to take a ride on my ever-lovin' stroker shovelhead, Mabel. But it was raining. That did it. I had to ride, now! The rain was the clincher! This is not the act of a sane man.
Whoever said that motorcycle riding isn't a compulsion, doesn't know his ass from his elbow macaroni. Yup, definitely a compulsive act: Riding in the rain while gettin' over a cold. Wait! There's more!
I had to maximize feeling the rain!
Hey man, might as well go riding in the rain while gettin' over a cold, without a jacket. Yeah, that's the ticket! So I go out to ride in the rain at four in the morning while gettin' over a cold, wearing just jeans and the t-shirt on my back. Why not? Might as well challenge the prospect of pneumonia! What is life if not a series of challenges to overcome?
This is my high risk behavior. After all, I don't bungee jump. I have a healthy fear of heights, but not of riding in the rain while gettin' over a cold, wearin' just jeans and the shirt on my back, while blasting down the highway at 70 miles an hour, with the spray soaking my t-shirt because I don't have a front fender covering that skinny, water-spraying 21. Ah well, saves me from taking a shower. A cold shower.
If I have to explain, you wouldn't understand.
I'll try anyway. All the elements for The Best Ride Of The Year were present and accounted for. Rain. Wind. The freedom of the open road at 4:00 AM with very little (for NYC) traffic. Just enough cars to thunder by while twisting the Happy Grip--you know, the one that makes noise come outta the exhaust pipes. No sunlight. I couldn't have asked for more, and I got exactly what I asked for and not one iota less: A great, blasting ride and time. Two hours of wet, cold bliss! The emotions a biker feels while riding his motorcycle, almost defies descriptive terminology. Except, it's not required because I'm preaching to the choir. Can you say "Hallelujah?"
Truly, most wouldn't understand this. But, you do.
Riding a Harley is an esoteric experience limited to the Lucky Few, the specially initiated.
There's really nothing in the world like it.
You understand it, because you have these moments in your life too. Here's what I don't get, though. You never read about this type of ecstasy that is common to your and my life in biker rags. Most emphasis in biker rags is of the "my latest build" mentality, and even that sounds like a bored exercise in protocol. Nobody in these rags ever gets excited, or if they do, this feeling never gets conveyed to readers in the articles. Writing about riding, should be a celebration of riding a righteous Harley 74---but it never seems to materialize on magazine pages. Because the tone in magazine articles is one of cool indifference (that reads as "boredom"), the emotional level of readers flatlines, never peaking, never receiving max excitation. If only biker rags could capture the magic that we feel when we ride! Man, I'd read that sucker front to back, every month without fail.
I often wonder why biker rags are so blase'. Man, riding the bike is every bit as elevating an experience as doing drugs. I would say that it's even healthier an activity than taking drugs, but I did go riding in the rain while gettin' over a cold, and get my clothes soaking wet because the front end is just the way it should be, with no fender---so that claim would be highly suspect. Lean and mean wide glide fork, baby! In spite of the inclement elements, in spite of the inundattion of said clothes with rain water, it was The Greatest Ride Of The Year.
Riding also imparts a feeling of well-being that is closely related to that "King Of The World" feeling. This feeling is one of great harmony, and control over your life, and the direction that it is taking. It's like a GPS tellin' ya that you're staying on course instead of going off on a side road to nowhere. It's a feeling of commingling freedom and control, as if you could exert one over the other and vice versa, at your whim. Isn 't this what all of us wants? Freedom, and control? That is something that a non-rider can dig.
The feeling of freedom was just so strong this morning, but I can't tell you why this sensation was so much more pronounced than on other rides. Maybe the other rides revolved around conditions that were too perfect: Eighty degree temps on sundrenched blacktop. Idyllic. But too perfect, with too perfect expectations. It is always the ride where one expects little, that we get the most. The Greatest Ride Of The Year was one where I couldn't get drenched enough. I can honestly say that I enjoyed every single drop of rain that soaked into my clothes. It really was like a wet dream. I can tell you this: I got off Mabel after the ride, filled with an overpowering feeling of gratitude for my 40 year old Harley, and a love so strong for her that it colored the rest of my day.
Something else a great ride is like: A hardcore tattoo. A terrfic ride is a work of art, with your mind, hands, and feet doing the graphic work.
Get it? Later.