It’s The End Of The (Riding) World As We Know It. And I (Think) I Feel Fine.Posted: February 20, 2010
I have arrived at the proverbial end of the (public) road. It’s been quite some time since I could last enjoy riding for riding’s sake. Not commuting, not getting to Point B, not anything, but enjoying the ride with no particular place to go. A succession of (not so) random left and right turns. With the increase of my Acts-of-Squidliness-to-Mile ratio, I needed some introspection. At first I blamed the damn weather. Always cold, days are too short, not enough full-spectrum light to keep the mind and body balanced. Then I blamed traffic. These idiots still can’t drive and I don’t know why I keep hoping against hope that one day I’ll wake up and the roadways will be clear of the morons that currently stretch the driving privilege to its limits. Then I blamed the drama in my personal life that I am an unwilling (and distant) participant in. It’s depressing, out of my control, and it’s really hard to keep a positive outlook. I’m burnt out on more than one level. Although these things definitely impact my riding subconsciously in one way or another, it is not where the fault lies.
It is fairly simple. I have outgrown the public streets as my playground for skill improvement and tinkering with applied physics. This is why I am so bored and under-appreciative of the few joy rides I do get in. The realization struck me today as I was zipping down familiar roads, I hadn’t been on in weeks or even months; clearly outriding my sight distance on more than one occasion, just to keep the speed up that’s required to actually make it a bit of a challenge. Not good. I kept trying to tell Miss SquidlyPants this on numerous occasions, as I made my way through the Sumpter National Forest. Things have changed, too. New cracks, new potholes… whatever happened to the sedate recon lap? Not to mention the possibility of deer. *sigh* It takes too much anymore, there are just too many variables. I pretty much have to double the speed limit now to even get close to the edge of my skill level. Not something I’d like to engage in on a sustained level. I remember a time when the ‘practice corner’ was fun at 50mph. I’m up to 90mph on exit and I still don’t have a knee down. The speed limit on that particular road is 35.
I also came to another realization, as I was leaned over in the last curve on my forest loop, hitting a bump that previously wasn’t there, unloading both ends at the same time (WTF? that’s what it felt like) and having to really fight with myself not to freak the hell out and do something stupid, like chopping the throttle or getting on the damn brakes. At least that skill is still there, although I really haven’t had occasion to practice that sort of thing a lot lately, considering it’s winter time and I find myself on the big road more often than not.
Then there’s another realization. 120mph ain’t shit anymore. When has that started feeling slow??? I mean seriously. That kind of speed used to take all my concentration. Now, it’s almost to the point of “whatever”. Doubling the speed limit, that’s what it all comes down to. 70+ around a curve in a 35, 130+ on the damn Interstate. Can’t get my kicks anymore. Not like that. I suppose I’m moving through the Stages of (Redneck Racing) Grief: first Denial; then Anger (as evident in my various combat commuting adventures); I skipped through Bargaining (or did I?) into Depression, and now I have arrived at Acceptance.
Luckily, I got a track school slot as a birthday present from TaildManx. Between that and my recently discovered urge for dabbling in land speed racing, I should be able to get my fix and improve my skills further. I just have to accept that it’s going to be slower progress (due to financial constraints) now and to keep Miss SquidlyPants in check while I’m out on the public roadways. There’s a time and a place.
Now I just have to re-find my groove, without feeling like I’m riding it like Metamucil (read: like an old lady). Maybe now I have reached a point where I can experience what other people are saying, when they talk about their reasons to ride. They go for rides to think, to clear their heads, to work things out, to enjoy the scenery. I cannot do that. None of it. When I ride I’m all business. I go into my zone, and there is no room for unrelated thought. Yes, it clears my head, but not in the way that you may think. Maybe that in itself is part of the reason why I’ve progressed so fast in my riding?!? I don’t know, but I have to make peace with this and stop pushing the envelope on public roads. I’m simply getting too dangerous on that missile of mine. 🙂