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GOING THE DISTANCE
"RIDING IS BORING"
PHOTO BY GENGHIS
"Riding is boring."
I had this thought yesterday, as I went through my progressions as I downshifted to neutral at a red light. It's not all that easy to tell if I'm in neutral with Mabel's (my 1971 Harley 74, who is really an 86 inch stroker Shovel) traditional 4 speed trans. The drill is usually this. As I slowing to a standstill and in 2nd, blip the throttle as I'm finding neutral, as it helps to find that palpable detent between 1st and 2nd. Sometimes I can feel that detent, sometimes I can't. It's sorta like feelin' for your old lady's G-spot. It can be ambiguous.
If I'm still unsure because I haven't felt that detent, then I'll hit the throttle again while I'm at a standstill as I slowly release the clutch. If it's not in neutral, then the Mabes will creep fowward on engagement. If it's in neutral, then it is what it is. This little ritual, representative of perhaps hundreds that we as bikers go through on every ride, is done on an absolutely second nature basis. It is as natural as rubbing our eyes when waking up, or starting up the water for coffee after that. In short, it is routine, and therefore---boring. These riding techniques are executed with our brains on automatic pilot. We're cruisin' while on cruise control, baby!
You do the math. I've been riding for 41 years. That's a lot of little riding technique rituals accumulated, perhaps rivaling the insane Obamanomics deficits in the trillions. That's trillions of motorcycling maneuvers, big and small---that are controlled by my autonomic system, reinforced by decades of muscle memory building. All of these have been accomplished with little to no thought while bringing my Harley up to speed, down to no speed, and everything in between. It is analolgous to a trained dog reacting to extraneous commands of sit, heel and stay. I'm sure that I could ride Mabel in my sleep.
After all these years, riding requires no thinking. But, isn't this as it should be? It would be a drag and an indictment of one's riding skills, if it took a boatload of thinking to get through a ride after four decades of supposedly knowing the drill. Do you remember the phrase "Greed is good..." from the movie, "Wall Street"? In this case, boredom is good. Yeah, you heard it right. Being bored while riding is good. Why? because it means that you're thoroughly familiar with your machine and her idiosyncrasies. You are so in tune with her, that you have mastered her to a T. This, is good.
Being blase' with the workings of your motorcycle while riding, also indicates a commensurate level of emotion, which is little to none. It means that there is no fear of riding. Yesterday morning, I rode down the elevator of my building with Rebecca, one of my longtime neighbors. Rebecca said, "Scott, be careful out there. It's not so much you as all those crazy drivers out there...." I said, "I know." How many times have you received exactly this advice from well-meaning, non-riding friends and neighbors? It is their natural instinct to show protectiveness toward you, which is a good thing. The fact that we can nonchalantly climb into our Harleys' saddles, demonstrates how confidently and fearlessly we ride. It's all second nature, man. That's a good thing. What I sense from a friend or neighbor who warns me about the dangers of riding, are a deep seated intrinsic fear within the person doing the warning. To the non-riding public, motorcycle riding seems an insane and suicidal act. It would be hard for these folks to imagine climbing on board a rip-snortin' 600 pound Harley, and blasting down the highway at 70 per. It might as well be riding in a flying saucer in outer space, for people who don't ride.
This is what sets us bikers apart from the straights of the world. We do what we have to do, and by "have to" I mean that we are born to it, and cannot do without it---and that is ride our bikes, man. Long roads, short roads, it doesn't matter. Just ride, no matter how boring it is. Later