Some days. I guess not every day can start out with birds singing, the sun shining and a rainbow over your shoulder. This morning as I pushed my 890 pound motorcycle out of the garage, I almost dropped it. In a mad, desperate attempt I actually prevented it from hitting the deck. Oddly enough, earlier this week at work I caught another bike I was moving around from falling over. This is hard on an old man like me. Dropping my keys and then bending over to pick them up is difficult enough, but stopping a heavy motorcycle pulled towards hell by the earth’s gravity is not something I want to do everyday.
Dropping my keys and then bending over to pick them up is difficult enough, but stopping a heavy motorcycle pulled towards hell by the earth’s gravity is not something I want to do everyday.
So as a true motorcyclist, I shook it off, climbed on board and headed off to work. About a mile out-of-town as I settled in for my ride I actually smiled at my cat-like reflexes and superhuman strength. I laughed out loud at my own humor and down the road I went. The next few miles were very pleasant as the weather this morning was comfortable and the sky cloudy. My thoughts wandered about the trip to Sturgis, whether or not I was going to get wet in either direction for my morning commute and how all the cattle bunched up in the corner of the field are all shaking their heads at me because it’s going to rain.
So about halfway to work I stop at the stop sign at Skiddy West RD and highway 77 to wait on a car. Listening to the radio I was somewhat distracted but not so much that I wouldn’t wait on a car to pass. As I pulled out onto the highway heading north, I shifted up through the gears and set the cruise control letting my mind wander some more.
I had my listening hat on trying to diagnose the strange sounds coming from between my legs.
I don’t know what it is about the weeks before a big trip, but I tend to get a little paranoid with my bike making unusual sounds and acting weird knowing I have some miles to travel. Weird noises or a slight hesitation may not bother me otherwise, but this morning the motor was making way more noise than usual. for the next 7 miles, I had my listening hat on trying to diagnose the strange sounds coming from between my legs. Approaching the construction zone just south of I-70 I kicked off the cruise and started down-shifting to prevent an expensive speeding ticket. It was then I realized I just rode those last few miles at 70 miles an hour with the cruise set while in fourth gear. Yeah, it’s going to be a good day.
Okay, call me gun-shy. A few days ago I had a close encounter with a doe standing on the road in the exact same spot where a previous close encounter happened almost a year ago to the day. Two close encounters in the same spot with a deer a year apart. Who would have thunk it? The first was “Motorcycle Crossing” and the second was “A Second Either Way” if you’re curious.
Well, on this particularly foggy morning commute on my motorcycle, I was understandably cautious. Typically, when riding in fog your windshield and face shield will fog up as well. This morning was no different as my windshield was completely fogged over and the face shield on my Torc helmet was lifted to better see. It’s one thing as a rider to be on the lookout for anything that might stop my forward progress, but it’s also important to see and be seen.
So I set out on my journey in hopes of getting to work unscathed. The fog wasn’t too bad at first but I knew going into Skiddy, which falls into a valley, it would become worse. As I started my decent I saw a skunk scooting across the road and a second later realized his defense mechanism was in perfect working order. He must have seen me coming. Feeling good about being cautious, I’m only about an 1/8 of a mile from the curve that is a known deer hangout. As I enter the curve I see a deer standing in the ditch by the trees. Not again! It’s silhouette poised to leap in my direction, I maintained my nerves of steel and continued into the face of danger. As I rounded the curve, fully prepared for what may come, I realized the deer was nothing more than a combination of tree branches and bushes in the shape of a deer and that either the deer or the fog were playing tricks on me. Relieved, I turned the throttle and rode on. But now my eyes are seeing things in the fog that may or may not be there.
As I left Skiddy I’m sure I saw Popeye standing on the side of the road. I can’t be sure, but it sure looked like him. Further down the road I saw a herd of buffalo standing by the fence, but they were pretending to be cattle. I’m not crazy, I saw buffalo. It’s kind of like looking at the clouds and seeing shapes of animals and characters. The only difference here? If I see Snoopy in the clouds he isn’t going to jump out of the ditch in front of me.
Let me explain something here. I’m not crazy. This morning’s ride to work couldn’t have started out any more normal. I’m on time, I’ve prepared myself and I have my wallet; so what does this have to do with my mental state? As I traveled down the 5 mile stretch of road between home and Skiddy, I found myself riding with both hands in the pocket of my hooded sweatshirt. The throttle was set and my hands a little cold – so they found refuge. It crossed my mind that I’m literally sitting on a 800 pound machine careening down the road with no apparent signs of control, but hey, my hands were a little cold so what do you do…
My second observation was the freshly cut grass along the side of the county road. The day before I hadn’t noticed this, but this morning it caught my eye. I love fresh-cut grass. It smells good and it was so even and straight that I couldn’t have done it better myself. Who did it? Do they have as much fun cutting grass as I do? Does my grass need cutting? All really good questions, and I’m betting whoever cut it loves to mow grass.
As I dropped down into the valley just before Skiddy I came upon what appeared to be an exploded chicken. That’s right, feathers everywhere. I am familiar with free range and I must say I’ve never seen a loose chicken in this area, so I determined it was some other form of fowl, but at 60 miles per hour, who knows. Of course by now my hands are back on the bars and my mind is picturing chickens running across the road in their track suits but I still wasn’t convinced if that was actually a chicken. Of course it wasn’t I said in my head, but my mind keeps telling me that’s what I saw. Who knows? I’m guessing not. But maybe.
After coming out of the valley past Skiddy my mind switched gears to how a short morning cloud burst of rain made the pavement wet. I thought about how tires are pretty amazing to keep me upright going around curves in the road even while wet. At just that moment a plastic bag from Walmart came flying up at me out of nowhere. Remaining calm on the outside, I managed to contain any signs of surprise while keeping my wet tires planted firmly on the pavement. How did I know it was a Walmart bag? It got hung up on my mirror and flapped around until I could get it off. Of course my thoughts turned to how a plastic bag could be blowing around out here in the middle of nowhere, with all the barbwire fence, trees and tall grass for it to snag. So for the last three miles I’ve been thinking about chickens dressed in track suits, wet pavement and plastic bags. Is there nothing else going on in my pretty little head?
I promise you there is more to what really goes on in my head than that. Sure, our minds are free to wander as we ride our motorcycles and it’s not always about solving life’s problems. I would rather say that my ride to work this morning covered the great mysteries of life and how the food chain really works, along with how plastic bags have an effect on our planet. Not to mention the laws of physics when riding down the highway with both hands in my hoodie completely in control with a little out-of-control mixed in. As for the chicken? I may never know why he crossed the road.