19 July 2008

Things sound different this year

This is the fourth year that my town has held a Motorcycle rally, and already I’m hearing different sounds. The first three years, this has been mostly a Harley/chopper affair with a concert series of extremely loud heavy metal music that lasted until 2 a.m. every morning all weekend long, and every year I would just bite my lip and tell myself, “This is good for the town” it would all be over by Sunday.

Beginning sometime in the middle of the week leading up to the event, the sounds of large V-twins with loud pipes would resonate in the small valley that my town is nestled in until the early morning hours. This would also carry on until Sunday evening. I personally think that Harley Davidson’s sound really cool, but at 3 a.m. when people are doing things that generally require a little bit of peace and quiet; I’ve heard the argument that “Loud Pipes save lives”............at that time of the night, they do other things as well, also, let’s not forget the bizarre experience of being ostracized in my own community all week long just because I ride a “Jap” bike.

I will give them credit though, these guys do know how to party, even if it is at the discomfort of the somewhat conservative residents who live here, and for what it’s worth, they didn’t cause any trouble. Yes, there was countless law enforcement, but any time you get 15,000 folks together who seem to pride themselves on their machismo and ability to drink vast amounts of alcohol and not get into trouble, well let’s just say I’ve been know to get a little surly all on my own with capful of Nyquil (and that’s the children’s dosage) yep, I’m a pretty cheap date!

Apparently last year was the snapping point for the townsfolk, because over the winter, they fired the event promoter and decided to take the rally in another direction. Lower entrance fees, more palatable music with hopefully a lower volume, and a more family oriented atmosphere; Something that I found interesting about this, is that my next door neighbor, who is on the town council, said that a lot of these suggestions for change came from the vendors and a number of builders.

So far, there is definitely a different sound in my town. Yes, there is still the occasional “Potato-Potato” sound of a big Harley chuffing down Main Street, but there is also the sound of a number of inline fours, and I could’ve sworn I just heard a very “British” sounding triple. All morning long, up and down the street outside my home, I’ve seen countless “Metric Cruisers” rolling into town. Trust me, this is a first, very cool! I've been waving to these folks this morning while watering the lawn, like a very disturbing version of a beauty queen on a parade float; dressed in my flannel robe and gym shorts, try visualizing Cousin Eddy from National Lampoons only without the hat and earflaps (where can I find me one of those?).

No music yet, but I don’t think they start that until sometime in the afternoon. So far, I like the sound of the way this rally is turning out, I certainly hope that my small conservative town can pull this off and entertain this group so that they keep coming back, time will tell.

I’ll have to grab my camera and take a walk downtown to check things out, heck; I may even have to ride my “Jap” bike, even though it is only a couple of blocks away. I’ll keep the children’s Nyquil locked away in the cupboard this year though, I wouldn’t want to make a fool of myself in front of all those people, if you know what I mean!

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