Thursday, June 17, 2010

Because it feels GOOD!

I belong to a web-forum of bike riders that, literally, has members from around the world. The
camaraderie, friendship, and even family that we have become is amazing. One of the members is currently teaching his son how to ride and took him for a ride one day. After a few hours they stopped for lunch and his son told him that he liked riding. When he asked him why, the only answer that he could come up with is "Because it feels good." Several forum members have chipped in with their answers and here is mine:

The alarm goes off and I groan; I'm still a little stiff and sore, but most mornings I am. As I lay there trying to wake up, I rotate my ankles and listen to them pop and snap as the bones re-align. Once they settle in, I can stand on them again. My back is stiff and pains race up and down my spine. Compressed vertebrae in my neck, healed rib fracture, and three more healed fractures in the lumbar region remind that I haven't always been nice to myself. Knees are OK so far, but I haven't tried the stairs yet. They'll remind me when I start that.

When I make fists, people can hear my tendons as they pop, the carpals and metacarpals in my hands grind audibly now. I tell myself brake- and clutch-levers are good exercise. I can usually straighten my fingers all the way on a good day. Stormy weather limits that sometimes. Some days I have to pull my fingers straight or twist the joints enough to get them to pop and unlock. Yeah, it's like that.

I slide the choke lever, turn the key on and hit the starter. The bike comes to life and I let the idle settle for a little before I twist the throttle enough to get the voltage display to start to show a charging state. She warms a little while I pack my crap into the trunk or panniers. Jacket, helmet, chin-strap, glasses and gloves. It's my starting mantra. Helps me to remember them all. By now, the bike is running smoothly and my pulse has quickened to the point that I start to feel alive again. I start to feel good again. Memories of David's Honda 125 that I really learned to ride on. The '73 Kawasaki Z1a that was my first bike. Then the Gold Wings: the 83i, 85a and now the current 90 1500.

I am settled into the saddle, now a part of something larger than I am; truthfully feeling that the sum of the two of us is greater than the whole. A reminder, to borrow a quote, "I'm not as good as I once was, but I'm as good once as I ever was." This bike, this machine, this extension of my desires and wishes, helps to make me feel better. "Because it feels good" is a great quote.

I get physically tired riding a bike, I don't get drowsy as I might in a car. Music goes with me: perhaps a Broadway soundtrack (Chicago, maybe Rent). Molly Hatchet, any of the Mussel Shoals groups, or Bob Seger can get me into trouble. Maybe I'm feeling Celtic today and it's Silly Wizard, Old Blind Dogs, Dougie McLean or the Wicked Tinkers. Could even be the Nickleback or Rush this time.

As with the ears, the nose gets a workout as well. Broken three times, I'm surprised sometimes that it stays with me, let alone lets me experience that wonderful scent of fresh mown lawn. The freshly baled hay in the field I rode past. The fall foliage assaulting my eyes at the same time that I can smell the leaf mast in the fall air. Or a sudden gust of apples ripening in the orchard, the late-night ambrosia of Honeysuckle, here and then gone.

Because it feels good says it all.

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