Running Out of Rain

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If you could have heard the song playing in my helmet on my rainy ride to work this morning, it would have sounded like a broken record skipping along repeating the same verse over and over. All too often we bikers get something stuck in that helmet of ours and it takes miles to shake it loose. I know it’s not that unusual to be riding down the road taking in the sites and humming a tune, but do we always get to pick the tune? Is there some deeper reason a lyric or song gets stuck in our head? The song stuck in my head this morning was Gary Allan’s “Every Storm,” and not just because I was riding into the rain. But when you think about it, every storm will run out of rain. Just not soon enough for a biker.

Being the avid motorcyclist, I’m always prepared for days like this, and when the weatherman talks percentages for rain, he really should mention the odds. Like your odds of rain in comparison to not having a rain suit with you. Your odds of ever seeing rain go down considerably after investing in a quality rain suit. Much like the odds of running out of gas near a gas station. This will always happen at the furthest point from civilization as possible.

Just like every song you hear, there are deeper meanings involved. It’s always up to the listener how words will be translated and how it will apply to you specifically, and to me this song is all about how vulnerable we are in this world and as life sets you back, it’s a matter of holding your head up knowing there are better days ahead. We can’t live our life waiting for the weather to get better; instead, we must go out in whatever weather is surrounding us and push through it. Some days it feels like you can’t win as the storm rages around you, but this storm, like the storms before it, will end and the sun will come out again. Very important words for a guy who rides a motorcycle.

As random as the weather can be, we can also be surprised by the winds of change as our lives take turns unexpectedly. We should always know this is temporary and even if there is damage and destruction surrounding us after the storm we will see the sun again. We don’t forget, we just move past. The lyric that stands out to me in this song is how we all have thorns. Below the surface of something as beautiful as the rose, you may experience a little pain. We all experience a few thorns over the course of our lifetime, but it’s the beauty of the rose we remember – not the pain of a thorn or two.

I’m a fan of Gary Allan. From the surface his music is a little dark and for good reason. To know where this darkness comes from is important to understand the emotion which comes through in every word he sings. And with that I was humming along with the words silently being sung in my head. I don’t mind riding in the rain as some of my most memorable rides happened on days just like this. I wonder what song will be playing in my head on the ride home…

 

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Wait Just a Second

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You might say it can happen just about anywhere. Sitting on a hillside watching the sun lay its head down after a long day, the quiet surrounding you tighter and tighter as it grows dark, or sitting on a rock at water’s edge as the waves come in to greet you. Peace. Center. This is what it’s all about it, as you struggle through the days feeling pulled in all directions – and for what? To have a few moments like this, where we find what we’re looking for within ourselves. It takes the beginning or the end of something to put it all into perspective. The constant motion of water, the sun coming up in the morning to start the day or the sunset to put an exclamation point at the end of another day in our lives. We seek these few precious seconds out of a day that has only so many to choose from. But we find them – they’re just mixed in with all the rest.

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Even the clear sky, lit from a full moon, can give us pause. We often feel the need to see something bigger than ourselves to jar our senses and rattle our being. I find a lot of these necessary fragments of time from behind the handlebars of my motorcycle. It’s a combination of direction, smells, sights and sounds that put me in my place. Life is so much bigger than the road I’m on. I’ve seen the power of a storm as I’m heading right into it – and the rainbow that follows. It’s only water, right? I often talk of the sun coming up in my mirror as I head West, or the sun setting as I roll down the highway, but mere words can’t do it justice. It’s an attitude of humility that surfaces and suddenly it’s me who becomes those precious few seconds in time. I’ve been on this planet for fifty-plus years, but to this planet my life is the equivalent to the blink of an eye.

I need these “larger than my life” moments to set me straight, but it isn’t always nature that causes it. The faces of my grandchildren can bring even the most difficult day to its knees and it makes me realize that those few precious seconds we have are just that – few and precious. So whether it’s from the seat of your motorcycle, hands and knees dirty from the garden or standing perfectly still as the evening comes; take it all in as it’s only a blink of an eye.

The Storms of Life

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He watches over me, leading the way when the storms of life are coming. When there is no way around it and the only option is to put my head down and plow through it, He is there. I will not travel through this alone because He is leading the way, guiding me and protecting me from whatever this storm will bring. I do not have the strength to go it alone and He makes sure I do not have to face troubled times and stormy weather without Him. He gives me direction when I’m lost, and tells me when I should face the storm and when I should go around it. I trust Him.

When the dark clouds are approaching, our first instinct is to avoid them. We worry what might happen and wonder how we can get around it, because we get so caught up in what might happen we forget to have faith. The darkness and power of what’s coming makes us forget to appreciate the beauty in it. It is the experiences in our lives that made us who we are and we must remember that we will not go it alone. No matter how hard or bad it is, it too will end and a brand new beautiful day will dawn, giving us a better understanding of not only who we are but what we can handle. It always surprises me in how much we can handle.

When you are heading down that road in your life and you see a storm fast approaching, take a moment to look around and see who is going to ride it out with you. We hope that our friends and family will be there for us, and they will. But see who is leading, guiding and protecting you when it’s about to hit. It’s not always obvious, sometimes you have to look around for signs of His presence to see it for yourself.

My ride to work always gives me time to think about the day, week or life in general. As if I’m in some sort of meditative state, I can reflect on things and take a few minutes to figure it all out and put it into perspective. We all know our lives, as predictive as they may seem, are really unpredictable. It is this mind-clearing experience of riding to work where I do my best thinking because I’m alone with my thoughts and distractions are minimal. Sometimes it’s the obvious that we are quick to miss. I took this picture of the storm in the horizon unaware of the shadow being cast on the road before me. It may seem random to some and it may not even mean anything to others, but to me it was God telling me things were going to be alright. It is the open mind and open heart that hears the answers to questions we have, and today that question was answered.

 

“And Then the Rain Came”

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“And then the rain came.”
Motorcycles and rain…makes you think, doesn’t it? Like a boat without a trailer and Ramen Noodles without that little packet of brown stuff-something’s just not right. Motorcycles, with their lack of all-weather protection, just aren’t for everyone. There is plenty of gear for the rider to wear to help fend off any inclement weather, but that is only going to stop some of the elements. You can bundle up when it’s cold, put on your rain suit if it’s raining, and any combination of heavier or lighter gear as the temperature fluctuates. Sometimes it’s a combination of several weather conditions we deal with at the same time, and that too, is a challenge.

A few years ago, I took a solo ride to Greeley Colorado for a family reunion. The weather man, in his war against motorcycles, was predicting heavy rain on the Friday morning in July I had planned to leave. Normally his ten percent accuracy rating would not bother me, but this time he seemed serious. My morning alarm was a clap of thunder and without too much trouble I could hear the heavy rain as it came down. But we’re riding today, right? Yep.

I had already loaded my motorcycle for the weekend trip, and with just less than 500 miles to get there, I was looking forward to it. I’ve ridden in rain like this before, and I knew getting on the bike that I might get a little wet. My rain suit is on and away I go down the street to the stop sign. Boy, it is raining. For the next 150 miles of interstate the rain would not let up. I’m not uncomfortable riding in this at all, but I think there were a few motorist that were afraid for me. I stopped in Hays Kansas at the Harley-Davidson dealer to take a break and have some coffee. For July in Kansas can be hot, with the rain the temperature was just right.

Any of you that have ever ridden with a rain suit on know that you will still get wet as the rain will creep in around your neck and up your sleeves-and this ride was no different. After thirty minutes or so, I put my rain suit back on and decided to head North to avoid the storm as heading West would have put me in it for several more hours. A few miles up the road the rain suit came off and although a little cloud cover was hanging over me, it had stopped raining.

The rest of the ride was fantastic. Sometimes it takes a storm to put you on the right road-the one you should have been on to begin with. Kind of like “life.” When you’re pushing hard in the direction you think you should be going, and you’re fighting it every step of the way, change your direction.

I ended up taking the back roads through Benkelman Nebraska and Wray Colorado where my folks grew up. We visited these places a lot when I was growing up to see family but I had never been through here on a motorcycle. Kind of appropriate since I was on my way to a family reunion in Greeley. The weatherman was right and I’m glad he was.