Thursday, October 16, 2008

And I Ride A Bike

It has been 3 months since I bought a motorcycle. I am nearing the 4000 mile mark. I can hardly believe it myself; further evidence of the amount of driving I do for my job. I still love it. For those who have never experienced, it is difficult to describe. Imagine riding on your bicycle, but faster and without the effort. I used to do a good bit of road cycling. My favorite part (aside from the great workout) was riding along unencumbered by windows, a roof, metal, plastic, and upholstery. I was close to the ground; gracefully gliding along dangerously aware of my speed and direction. I wish that I could ride more often, but time is a precious commodity and scare in supply. Sorry, my economics roots coming out.

On a bike, you perceive normal things differently. On the way home from work, I passed the local international (oxymoron?) airport. A large 737 bearing the Southwest flag passed overhead not more than 150’ off the ground. I have driven this portion of freeway in a car before and experienced the same phenomenon. You see the plane out of the passenger window; then it’s gone with a slight rumble over the drone of the local radio station, and then it reappears on the driver’s side almost on the runway. No big deal, I know.

Let me relay how it was on the bike. I see the plane off to my right on the approach. I hear the engines approaching. The gear is down and landing lights are on. As the plane passes overhead, I glance upward at the belly of the plane. Did I mention that this is going home traffic and that we are stop-and-go? It is huge. I suddenly realize that you don’t normally see the underside of a plane from such a close distance. It resembles that of a .45 bullet. (I can see why the parallel between the terrorist planes of 9/11 and deadly weapons is so strong. Planes provide a invaluable service in modern society. But just like guns, in the wrong hands can yield disastrous results.) As the plane moves to my left and toward the runway, I can feel the rumble of the engines. Traffic is stopped; so I continue to watch. The massive flying tube of aluminum gracefully glides downward and makes contact emitting a small cloud of smoke and a brief high-pitched squeal from the tires.

My wife went for her first ride on the bike, or any bike, this weekend. A little scared at first; she liked it. Riding with someone is different too. In a car, they sit next to you and your interaction is like that of sitting on the sofa at home. On the bike, you share the same space; are in constant contact with each other; work together as a team in balancing and turning the bike. I look forward to more rides and great experiences with her. If you don’t have a motorcycle or know someone that does, go for a ride on a bicycle. You have the same sensations, but only slower and with a greater sensitivity to the sounds around you.

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