It can be easy to take things, a colour for example, for granted. Each colour though, has myriad hues. Myriad variations in shades and tints, tone, tinge. Today’s reflection is brought to you by the colour, and myriad greens experienced during a recent ride.
A Moment Of Focus
With alternating solid and dotted lines below and to the left of my left foot, my motorcycle holds its course. There is no destination to mark the end, there is no purpose to the movement – I am just riding.
My thoughts rotate through numerous things as I ride. Things I need to do, people I need to see, assessments on my state of hunger and thirst, whether my bladder can hold for another 50 miles. These thoughts continue until, finally, they settle. A flow state synchronized with the environment and experience of riding replaces the random thoughts. Then, I can discard the lists and start to focus viscerally on the ride. It can take some time, and many miles.
All The Feels
Riding is one of those activities that brings focus and centers me on the moment. Each moment, each meter and kilometer fills every sense. Cow shit hits the sense of smell like a brick; sometimes you can’t shake the taste for miles.
The feel of the throttle, the vibration of the bike as it transmits each feature of the tarmac to the body; and the cold, the wind, the rain on occasion – the ‘feels’ are tactile.
Sounds get dimmed by the helmet. For some riders, their earplugs dim them even more so; I don’t wear them though. The wind, and engine ‘breathing’ and straining are a constant companion on the road.
Taste, you ask? Aside from the taste that lingers from the fields of fresh manure, there is lots of protein … if the mouth is open. I’ve swallowed countless flyers. Those that don’t explode on my earpiece or forehead, usually help keep hunger at bay. Hunger and thirst though – and of course fuel – are often the only factors that can stop the ride.
The views though. Oh, the views. The road passing underfoot, the birds narrowly missing as they dart across a highway, and that vast sky and the distant horizon. Those greens though, Ontario highways are bordered by so many greens.
On the bike you take note of so many details. Each and every second, each moment, is experienced. Experienced in ways you can’t get from ‘caged’ rides; cars. On a bike, you are there, fully, in the moment. The thoughts sometimes wander, but never too far – or the ditch may just be your destination. On the bike the little things bring so much joy, a sense of ‘living’, so much emotion. Those greens, so plentiful as you eat asphalt meter after meter.
Another of the little things that always brings me satisfaction and happiness, is when the odometers turns a big number.
My odometer read 55971. This is very exciting. My bike’s speedometer and odometer – the only instruments on the bike – are both analogue. They are not precise. In know this every time I pass a roadside speed notice; always digital with your speed presented in colours reflective of your adherence to the speed limit (red, amber, green), and when registering my bike, always 12 kmh lower than the speed my gauges provide. Again, not precise, and in this case in my favour.
The exciting part of my speedometer reading 55971 is that it means that there is only 29 miles to ride before that analogue recorder roles past 55999, catches hold of that second ‘5’ and roles over to 56000. It ‘clicks’ into place and immediately starts me thinking about the next 1000 miles I need to ride before I see that ‘6’ role over to ‘7’. Even more exciting is the thought of getting 4000 miles under rubber and seeing that whole register role to 60000. Is it possible this riding season? Maybe, just maybe…
Analogue anything offers such a visceral and satisfying experience. An experience that digital – with its bright LEDs, precision, and elusive tactility – just can’t provide. If you don’t ride a bike, you may not understand this. If you’ve given yourself fully to digitization then you certainly don’t understand.
Whether it is my analogue, automatic watch – which needs movement and to be worn to keep time, or the feel of rock under finger as a I climb, vice video games and videos, or even just the making popcorn on the stove in a pot, there is just something so much more rewarding from doing things ‘old school’, analogue.
I finished riding this day with 56008 on my odometer. The only destination that matters now is getting in the miles, and experiencing the smells, the feels, and the satisfaction of rolling it over to 57000. That’s reason enough to ride. That’s as simple as it gets. Nothing else needed.
Well, nothing except those myriad and gorgeous greens.