Friday, September 26, 2008

Road Reflections

The movements of the day have been accented by a slow soreness in the few muscles that drape over my bones. This morning, I got out of bed slowly, stretching my back and neck before I leaving the futon. (Springing out of bed on some “what a loving morning, yay!” is for suckers anyway.) These are the echoes of the moderate beating my body has taken on two wheels this past week. Last Saturday I pre-empted my usual book reading, npr-listening, audio editing style for a right proper adventure on two wheels. I met a squad of riders off the highway and off we went, destined for 150 miles of awesomeness. The ride began awkwardly, what with the boy scouts, cops, and fog. But once we hit those little traveled county roads, things began to settle into the asphalt ridden beauty that is the crotch rocket’s birthright.

Nietzsche tells us that at times it is necessary to philosophize with a hammer. Break a thing to find out what it is. Or strike it to check for an echo, semblance of depth. On a downshift the engine screamed, as if it was surprised that I was headed to this corner at this speed. The vibration from the engine and the feel of the road travelled through the tires, to the frame, to my hands which braced my body against the downward force of braking. Yeah, I thought. This is how you philosophize with a tuning fork.

We take in the world from a body. If I were to talk about organs and motor-neurons it would only miss the point. For then I would be casting those parts into the world that we take in. The body simply is the place from which we move, from which we perceive, from which we act. So, on this day, my body was simply a few hundred pounds heavier, full of coolant, gasoline and oil, a vibrating mass moving down a series of winding roads that, really, were also me.

Concentration was the meaning of the style. Accelerate. Downshift. Break. Look. Lean. Maintain the line. Scan for road imperfections and cops. Try not to miss the next turn. Try not to get left by the homies up ahead with off brand bikes and more experience of these roads. But always, without warning, from the frenetic mix of road, wind, and traction, there emerged a clearing. A slight hill would finally descend, revealing acres of farmland, lush green fields symmetrically cut into the countryside. Cows lied down in the shade. Horses would not even look up from their graze. (They started this horsepower thing, after all. No need to revere their passing imitators.)

In the vast expanse. I saw all expanses. The farmland of my home in Alabama. The coastal greenery of Devon. The tips of the pine trees in the mountains outside Las Vegas. The tropical bush of the West Nile Valley. I wondered about my friends and wished that they could all soak in the world from this side of the double yellow lines. Then a long straightaway unfolded before us. The low groan of an Italian machine intensified in front of me. I figured there is no way in hell I would let it get away. And this is why my shoulders are sore, even now.

The moto homies meet again tomorrow morning. I will be heavier again and the unreal peace of a county road will wash over me. Well, at least until I see "McCain" on a bumper sticker.

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