09 September 2007

Take Flight

I had a ride on a motorcycle on Saturday night. My dad is a motorcycle enthusiast, despite having had an accident the year before I was born that nearly left him as an amputee. Fortunately, an amazing orthopedic surgeon put his leg back together, and he bought another bike as soon as he was able.

All my life, there have been rules about riding the motorcycle. Rule #1. Never get on anyone's motorcycle EXCEPT dad's. This was to prevent my sisters and I from getting on the back of some drunk moron's bike, but was really just a temptation to break the rule. And it created a lifelong fascination with all motorcycles for all three of us. Harleys? Yep, like 'em lots. Ducs? Megadittoes. Yamaha, Suzuki, Honda, Indian, choppers, you name it, they fascinate me. The funny thing is that I never have ridden with anyone but my father. DH isn't into bikes, or at least not as much as my gearhead dad.

Rule #2. No motorcycle riding without proper gear. This means eye protection,(shades, glasses, goggles, whatever) jeans, proper shoes, (no sandals!) long sleeves, (no matter how hot it is or isn't) and above all, a helmet. Ohio does not have a helmet law (more's the pity) but I wouldn't feel safe without one. Y'know what they call helmet-less riders in the emergency room? Organ donors.

There was a planned trek to several Ohio wineries with several other bikers, and the plan was for DH and I to follow in the car, because being Ohio, the weather was not forecast to be nice. So we were the back-up plan for those who might not want to ride in the rain.

My parents rode together for about 40 miles of the 100 mile round trip, but my mother's back acted up, so I opted to ride with my dad for about 60 miles. It has been years since I'd been on a bike. I had completely forgotten what it is like.

Wind doesn't whistle in your ears, it thunders. Every bump in the road is telegraphed from the wheels of the bike up the shocks and directly to the rider. Sudden bursts of speed remind you that gravity isn't just a theory, occasionally jolting both driver and passenger a bit. Tandem riders need to be able to communicate nearly wordlessly, leaning as one into a turn, or ducking down lower on the bike to gain some aerodynamic advantage when speed is a necessity, due to unobservant car drivers or just for the thrill of going fast.

Riding a motorcycle is more intimate, somehow, than riding in a car. Intimate in the sense of closer to the road, closer to the environment at large. Smells, from restaurants, from farms, from factories, are all so much more evident than they would ever be inside a vehicle.

I had to resist the urge to spread my arms open wide, letting go of the handles on the side of the bike. Besides being foolish, and dangerous, the feeling that I had that I could take flight from the back of the bike was merely a flight of fancy. My imagination working overtime, as usual.

Somewhere north of sixty miles an hour, it gets difficult to breathe, because the air is thundering past at such a velocity that it becomes hard to inhale. I leaned over to look at the speedometer at one time, and I was stunned to see that it was over 80. Close your eyes, and it feels like you ARE flying.

I've had a couple of rough days, mental-health wise, and rather than get into all that garbage, I would rather tell you about how alive, how awake, and how real I felt on that bike. As if being connected to the road in ways that you never are in a car made me feel like I was touching reality more firmly than I have for a while. Not to mention grateful to be alive.

I've "whited-out" the next paragraph for those readers of mine who get incredibly bored by my constant references to fandom, because I can't resist slipping it into nearly every post. If you want to read it, highlight the text with your mouse. If my SN ranting bores you, feel free to just scroll down and skip it. I won't be offended....hell, I'll never even know.

Even while I was feeling like terra firma was more tangible than ever, I was still thinking here and there about Supernatural. You know that game, six degrees of separation? SN fans joke that there is only one between anything and the show. Motorcycle ride automatically equals SN, y'see. Here's how. We rode mostly over back-country roads, through miles and miles of farmland and wild, open spaces, and I was reminded of several scenes with the Metallicar cruising down empty stretches of old highways, off the beaten path. I even saw a motel that the characters might stay in, a place which boasted on its sign, "Since 1937," with small individual cabins and perhaps the sort of place where two drifters wouldn't be much noticed. I wish I'd been able to take a picture of it.

As we rode along, I was reminded again that the seasons are changing, that fall will be upon us soon. It was hot, but there are leaves that are changing their colors, and mums blooming, both signs to me of the end of summer. And while I love that the nights are getting cooler, and that soon I'll be able to turn off my air conditioning and have the sliding glass doors in my house open, it makes me sad, too, to leave behind the summer. There isn't much time in this part of the world where you can walk outside without a jacket. I despise the extreme heat, and yet I miss it when it is gone. Ah, indecisiveness. I know you well.

If I had been able to take flight from the motorcycle, I would have soared over the farms and small towns, enjoying the wind on my face and the clean air. As it was, I enjoyed myself immensely, even just imagining that I could fly.

Plus, bonus, we stopped at three wineries and sampled some fun, local wines. It astonishes me, over and over again, that not only do grapes grow in Ohio, but folks also manage to make some darn fine wines here. Some not so fine, true, but wine is such a subjective thing that if I like it, you might not. At two of the three wineries, I tasted blueberry wine. Despite my recent love affair with a French blueberry port, I wasn't a fan of blueberry wine. (Really, don't ask. The affair with the port has lasted through several bottles, but always ends badly, when the bottle gets mysteriously emptied. Who drank my port? I always ask. No one seems to know.) Nor was I a fan of an un-oaked Chardonnay, although I did taste a lightly oaked varietal that I liked better.

DH and I didn't find any wines that we needed to take home on this trip, but there are about 100 other Ohio wineries to try, so I'm sure we'll find something we like next time around.

Listening to: Fiona Apple


Dawna said...


Lucy Arin said...

It was awesome. Makes me want to get a motorcycle endorsement on my license so I could drive one too. *sigh* Someday.