13 July 2008

Inspirations of the Ride

A little over a year ago, when a friend suggested that perhaps I should start a blog as an addition to my personal journaling, I didn’t really know what direction the blog should take. I spent some time online and observed a number of other sites, deciding that a motorcycle related blog would be a suitable direction. As I have commented on in previous posts, the motorcycle community is a diverse one, and I’ve had a wonderful time reading about the personal experiences that others have had on two wheels.

With the decision of basing my first attempt at a blog on motorcycling, I made a statement in an April 6th post that I would “try to introduce to the reader the diversity of both the region that I live in and to the Inland Northwest the best that I can via motorcycle.” After reviewing my posts, I noticed that isn’t exactly the direction that this site has taken.

When I journal, there is no specific direction that my entries take, my journal entries have never had any sort of disciplined approach to what subject I should write about. Attempting to post on one particular subject has become a frustrating challenge and one that I don’t care for. As I thumbed through old entries in my journals, I noticed that a lot of them had subject matter that related to when I was riding and in particular what I was thinking about on the ride. That’s when it struck me; an epiphany of sorts that a tremendous amount of inspiration and insight about all sorts of things occur while I ride, Thoughts that rarely occur at other times.

Twenty years ago, while still living in Upstate New York, I went on a coast to coast road trip with a buddy from high school. The plan was to trailer my motorcycle (a Yamaha FZR600 at the time) behind my car, and whenever an interesting road presented itself, I would unload the bike and ride until things got “less than interesting.” Tom (the high school buddy), who had never been on a trip of any significant length, was unaware of my tendencies to basically stop only when I was finished and not when the day ended. This tendency of mine used to go on for days; I say ‘used to’ because as I have gotten older, I’m okay with taking a break from time to time.

We had made it to somewhere just north of Chicago when Tom finally chimed in, “When are we going to stop?” Honestly, that thought hadn’t even occurred to me. I assumed that Tom was well rested because he had been sleeping the whole trip, only waking up to drive when I felt like riding the bike. I told him that I had no real plans on that, figuring that when I started to see things that I knew weren’t really there, that I should probably take a nap. I assured him that I was still seeing things just fine and maybe tomorrow I would have had enough, this didn’t satisfy him. He ummm..... kind of exploded at that moment, “I don’t know how the hell you do it; you just sit there and drive, and then ride, then drive again until you feel like riding and then get on the bike and ride some more!” Tom wasn’t feeling so well. “How the hell do you stay awake, we haven’t stopped for 24 hours!” My only answer was, “I don’t know, I just think about stuff.”
“Like what!” Tom was kind of screaming at this point.
“I don’t know, just stuff.” I replied.
I took pity on Tom and got a motel room, besides I needed to take a shower to scrub off the funk of traveling for the past 24 hours straight, and yes, when my head did finally hit the pillow, I slept like the dead. Tom did pretty well for the first half of the trip, he didn’t throw another tantrum until we were heading east on the Bay bridge out of San Francisco and into Oakland. The conversation was a lot like the one in Chicago so I’ll spare the details.

Twenty years ago on the California Coast

The son of a Truck driver, I grew up on the road; traveling for days on end is not an unusual practice for me. When Tom asked how I was able to stay awake for such long periods, my answer of just thinking about stuff was about the best way that I could describe it.

The experience of riding motorcycles only enhances those thoughts, very close to the point of perpetual inspiration. I tend to believe that perhaps that is why “Motoblogging” has become so popular. I don’t think that I am alone when I say that riding on two wheels is an endless inspiration, whether it’s a good ride or a hellish one, a blogsite makes for an excellent conduit to others.

I read recently on someone else’s blogsite a statement to the effect that “A car only transports a person’s body, while a motorcycle carries the soul.” I wish that I could discover where I read that, but can’t seem to find it now, I like it though; I personally feel the motorcycle to be the most suitable deferent of the soul.

In summary, I would have to say that although this site will not always be about the direct subject of the ride that I am on, every single one of these posts have been and will continue to be about the thoughts that have occurred to me while on the ride. Some may be about the immediate experience of sights and sounds and the people that I meet, other perhaps a little more abstract with a tendency to digress at times, it’s just the way my brain works folks. All of them will be about the inspirations that I have felt while riding on anything with two wheels and an engine; those inspirations have never stopped coming to me no matter how conceptual or “flowery” the prose, or how matter of fact the post about the ride might be. I think that I can live with that direction for this blogsite.

Ride Well



R.G. said...

What a great read. I too find that some of my most focused thinking comes in my solitude on the rode. 20 years ago I was a point A to point B guy as well. now I have learned to be less of a slave to time and it is amazing the things I was missing.
Thanks for swinging by my blog. Your second comment was too funny.
Please keep posting I'm adding your blog to my queue.

R.G. said...

I also think well on the road too.

Joe said...

It's not what you write about that keeps me coming back; it's how you write. Like Steve at Scooter in the Sticks you have the rare ability to write about things that go through my own head in ways that I'd not imagine to put them into words myself. Thanks for taking the time to write this blog. It's appreciated!


Earl Thomas said...

r.g.; Don't you wish that sometimes these comment boxes had a spellcheck?

I've gotten better about stopping on the bike although it can be challenging sometimes. A lot of good picture opportunities still pass me by. I'm improving though.

Joe; Thanks for the kind words, I'm flattered that you would compare my writing with Steve's I've enjoyed visiting his sight over the past year while I considered my own blog's direction.

I'm finding that blogging is a pretty comfortable fit for me, it's just an extension of my own personal journaling that I've done since I was a kid.


Kano said...

I've had a great time reading your posts and you're doing a great job putting your thoughts down in a way that is interesting. Your photography is well done too! I'm glad I've discovered your excellent Blog, keep up the good work!

Charlie said...

Well having personally been on a few trips with you I can verify to all your abilities to drive on and on. I remember the long trips to Whitehall Montana to pick up a $100car battery. Getting older has slowed us down for sure. I remember just a few years ago when I was following you to your house and we were both driving a Ford Focus. I did not realize it until we arrived at the house that only a few years earlier it would have been a race on old 195 to see who would push harder. Times change, thoughts become more realistic yet we remain the same. Keep up the blog it reminds me of so many memories from the last 16 years.


Anonymous said...

Frankly I think your blog has just the right tone and feel to it. Many of us (riders that is) can most definitely relate to what you have to say...keep up the good work. It is a pleasure for those of us who get to read your blog.

Earl Thomas said...

Kano; Thanks, eventually I'll quit procrastinating on which digital SLR to buy and actually get something that I can have a little more control over the pictures that I take, I miss that luxury.

Charlie; If I remember right it was on the "Battery run" when you were trying to get some sleep and the buffeting of the sunroof with the windows closed sent you off the deep end!

Sarch; Thanks for the kind words. I'll keep at it.