Sunday, September 08, 2002
The bike is sitting in the New Mexico morning sun gleaming with that waifish glint of fun to be had. The past four days have been split between working from my hotel room and watching the activities at the Curve Cowboy Reunion. I learned much in the tech sessions, I learned a lot sitting around and gabbing. The K12LT community has many dignitaries that share time in the long distance community with great accomplishments. There are many things to contemplate as I take a moment to consider myself, and visualize the ride.
Sitting around discussing long distance riders, K12 riders, and the insanity of riding motorcycles a few things were notable. The group across the spectrum are intelligent, and driven. An excellent description was the statement “These people don’t need bosses”. What an apt way to describe the accomplish it, anyway you can, and get the job done fast, methods long distance riders are known for. I always feel slightly inferior, not quite up to the task, and definitely not as intelligent.
I noticed that among our group are the captains of industry, the talented artisans, the professional soldiers, business owners, salesman, and academicians. These top individuals of importance pile on the miles, and are recognized for accomplishments no less important than Olympic athletes. There are the bald, ugly, fat, white, guys like me. Working day in and day out at lackluster jobs loosely considered careers I consider myself lucky to be employed and equally lucky enough to have time to run a saddle sore, or just ride. Just time out to ride is often more important than any sanctioned run.
As miles roll under the bike the worries and cares are pealed away. The road doesn’t care about who, or what you are. When asked what I am I often distress people with the response, “I’m a family man”. Speaking of which maybe I should shed a few miles per hour off those corners so I’m not referred to in the past tense. People falsely assume that a job is what makes a man. No where is it farther from the truth then long distance riding. False romance, speaking of our bikes as steeds, talking about miles and years, and all the rest of that poetic stuff doesn’t bear when it comes to keeping your butt in the seat. A mile is the same no matter the speed.
I’ll never win a rally, and god forbid I probably will never be allowed into the Iron Butt. My personality is not driven to win at all costs. I don’t ride exceptionally fast. My rally philosophy is figure out the puzzle, ride for a high giggle factor, and let the ride be the reason for being there. Not a very competitive position. There is a place where I can find people who understand. We might disagree about being competitive, the how’s, and where’s, and all of the tiny details. These people don’t necessarily agree about my personal methods. They have seen the long ribbon of road and seen it to the end. They’ve seen the turns and found the hidden niches of their soul on that road. They congregate every year in Gerlach.
This year riding to Gerlach will be tribulation for me. The rest of the country will be mourning the losses of September 11, 2001. The entire nation was effected by the loss of invincibility and the attempted destruction of our way of life. The pain and suffering of thousands puts me easily in my place. But, even against that backdrop I celebrate on September 12 as I have every year since 1986.
My first son was born September 12, 1985. he would be 17 years old this year. That past tense sucks, but is the reality. On Shoshone valley road in Twenty Nine Palms California a 16 year old kid with a new drivers license and daddy’s truck smashed a hole through the dreams of an entire family. February 1, 1986 my son would get no older. Loss, pain, bankruptcy, divorce, and a large serving of self loathing over the years made sure life was interesting.
When I park my bike in the garage it is a mere 328 miles this morning. According to the GPS I was stopped for less than 10 minutes. That would be two five minute gas stops. And a few seconds at street lights I couldn’t roll through. Miles rolled under the tires. Thoughts mulled by the mind, and some soul searching. Much of the time was spent enjoying every single second of the environment and ride itself. The rest of the time was spent planning the next ride. Gerlach.
The long distance riders will arrive this week in Gerlach and party very hard as the Summer is closing. This year will be just a little more sweet, and I’ll be just a little more careful. There will be a few more things on my mind while I ride out there. The road is an uncaring piece of real estate. It doesn’t care what we do for a living, and it damn will doesn’t care about your safety. Finding a group of people who understand long distance riding is worth the effort. The ride through the open desert to Gerlach is worth the effort. Some would say Bruno’s ravioli is worth it. Supporting the long distance riding list is worth it.