Riding last night
I pulled on my helmet as I was sitting on the bike. The engine was already going, but it didn't need warming up, I've just always loved pulling my helmet on while I sat on the bike. I didn't blip the throttle; I didn't shift around in my seat. But I could feel very much that I was ready to ride.
The guy next to me was on a red bike with very strange fairings that I had never seen before. Definitely a custom job. Sleek, smooth. And he had put either Ferrari or Lamborghini insignia on it. I could never tell the two apart, but I was pretty sure that neither company actually made motorcycles.
We turned on to the road and gathered speed quickly. He was ahead of me, but not by much. As I pulled through third gear, I pushed my ankle up against the side of the bike, feeling the thick leather of my brown boots next to my anklebone, a comfort thing I do every time I ride. Of all the horror stories of riding that I've heard, grinding one's anklebones flat is the only one that's every really bothered me.
We are going faster and faster, but nothing dangerous. No insane maneuvers, no showy intentions, no squidly rodomontade. The highway is clear. There are a few cars going the other direction, but we have the northeast side all to ourselves. The air is warm, but not hot. Not cool either, even at speed. It's that rare state that happens only once or twice a year where you live, but always seems to occur more often when you're on vacation, when if you are not actively trying to notice it, you cannot feel the air. You feel the pressure of the wind pushing you back and down and sideways, but not the temperature. 'This must be what heaven feels like,' I think to myself.
The sky is heavenly too. It is late afternoon, and the atmosphere is changing, but it hasn't become any darker yet. Just more pink and orange and coral. The sky behind the clouds is unreal and turquoise and it cuts the clouds out from the sky like a piece of construction paper. And the clouds don't look any more grounded in reality either. Something from Bierstadt's wet dreams. I sigh, as much as one can while pulling eighty-eight on a motorcycle.
My bike is red too, but not red like my companion, whose strange yellow Polynesian shirt flaps madly in the wind, like a safety warning sign. His bike is pristine. Mine has character. It's solid, but the thought of giving it something nice, like new fairings or chrome is like offering plastic surgery to a prostitute. It's a solid bike, but there's no need to deceive anyone as to where it's been.
The most comfortable part of the bike is the throttle grip, which I reach forward and pull way back on as I put the bike in fifth. 'Eighty-eight,' I think again, 'this isn't Back to the Future.' My bike pulls forward and again I'm glad that I'm not riding a car. I start to pull ahead of the strange Ferrari/Lamborghini bike and remember to keep my butt down on the seat as I try to tuck in behind the windshield.
I can feel it now, the wind pressing me down, the rush of the asphalt challenging my abilities to control the bike, even my gear, reminding me constantly of a knight's armor, quietly urging me to push further, harder, and ride competently and quickly in a way that makes the hair all over my body stand on end.
We enter the twisties and I lose my grasp on present reality. All that exists now is the road, the bike, and me. I don't know what time it is. I don't know where I am. I don't know what year it is. I don't my name. I don't know what a name is. All I know is to look and press and lean and carve and lap up the asphalt as it screams by my leg in a deep refreshing way that can only be compared to sipping from the Holy Grail itself.
And reality pushes away from me and I am lost. Everything turns upside down and I am no longer 'me' on 'my bike'. I am the bike. The bike is I. And I am perfect, for a moment. 'Outside, inside, outside . . . throttle, coast, throttle, brake brake brake.' I am the bike.
As the sunlight finally wins its efforts to push its rays through my eyelids I stretch slowly and curse the world for bringing me back. I push the covers back and sigh again. I stand up and head to the bathroom morosely, damning the fact that I have never owned a motorcycle.