I was heading west on University Parkway, the stretch of US-29, a four-lane divided highway, between Athens and Atlanta, GA. It was late afternoon on a Friday and a thunderstorm was threatening overhead. People don’t mess around that time of the week. They are ready to get home to start their weekends or, like me, are already on their way to the party and are in a hurry to get there. Time is of the essence when the workweek is done. The average speed on the west-bound side was between 70-75 miles per hour. The east-bound side had been shut down due to a traffic accident and was backed up for miles. I gave quick thanks to the God of Speed for not being stuck in that mess.
Traffic was medium-heavy and I was averaging about 80 mph, making sure that I wasn’t the fastest vehicle on the road but keeping up with the faster cars of the crowd. I noticed a white sedan that had passed me, but then settled down to about my pace a little distance ahead. I eventually caught up and passed the car again. No big deal, it happens, I paid the car no mind as I continued to fling myself westward toward the horizon, bouncing around in my seat, tapping out the rhythm to some Lady Gaga tune with my right foot; I think it was “Bad Romance”. My thoughts were already occupied with playing in the twisties that were scheduled for the following day. The car eventually picked its way back through traffic and got ahead yet again.
Now it’s getting a little weird! After a while boredom and curiosity get the better of me and I am in hot pursuit of my highway stalker. It doesn’t take me long to catch up with my target. The car is still hanging out in the left lane, so I scoot over and slowly pass them on the right. I see what looks to be four college-aged kids bouncing around in their seats, hair flying, talking animatedly and obviously checking me out. Oh, shit! A carload of cheerleaders! They point and wave at me and I smile, — even though they can’t see through my darkly tinted face shield — I nod and give them a peace sign with my outstretched clutch hand. Then I grab a fistful of throttle, twist it quickly to the stop and treat them to a completely “unnecessary display of horsepower”. Gratuitous. I can’t help myself. I have no excuse. I pull triple digits for a few seconds, pass another vehicle by executing two acute lane changes to get a little high-speed lean for effect and then let the engine slow me back down to the speed of traffic.
It doesn’t take very long for them to catch up. Two songs, maybe. I’m astonished to see them again. When they pass me on the left, I see one of them is holding a sheet of notebook paper up to the passenger side window. It reads in bold-red Sharpie print:
I prop open my visor so I can make eye contact as I pace them. I smile and give them a thumbs up and a fist pump with my free hand. I yell: “Hell yeah!” even though they can’t hear me. I speed up and they stay directly behind me as my wing women until we part ways at a red light a few miles up the road. I turned right and they kept going straight. Each of us heading towards weekend adventure. I wish I could have taken a picture of this or had the video camera going. It’s the little things like these that make even a bored and hurried flight down a two-lane seemingly never-ending straight worth it. For one little instant my path merged with that of four strangers and life was just good.
That’s one of the reasons I ride.
Riding a motorcycle connects you intimately, even if only for a short moment, with others and the world around you. You become part of that world, rather than being isolated and distanced from it like you are when sitting in a car. This is one of those reasons why bikers refer to cars as “cages”. I’m sure of it.
I’ve been moaning and groaning and in generally a foul humor for the past few weeks now. I’m tired, my ears are giving me trouble and my nose is constantly running. My freaking allergies are kicking in. But it’s still mostly cold and dark, and winter just seems to hang on for all it’s worth. Doesn’t want to let go. I’m sick of the Dark Age. I’m ready for spring. And why the heck do I have to deal with my seasonal allergies and not have the weather to go with it? They start earlier each year… annoying.
Yesterday, I had this overwhelming urge to go get some 600 grit sandpaper. I looked at the temperature readout and find that it is 95 degrees on my front stoop (that’s where the “not weatherproof” sensor is located). Yes. I need some sandpaper, stat! I dig out my summer gear, slide into it via my moisture wicking base layer and head for the front door. Bright sunshine and the sound of children playing greet me as I step outside, locking up behind me. I squint into this awesome spring afternoon and am glad I had the foresight to change my shield to the tinted one. I can feel the warmth of the sun through my gear and the air even smells good today. I still don’t get it.
As I’m ready to push off and roll down my concrete pad and into the street I notice that the Pirate is covered in a bright yellow, green-hued neon-colored dust. No wonder my throat is sore and I can’t breathe at night anymore. The Augusta Nationals are but a few weeks away, the grass is growing at an astonishing rate, we’re covered in pollen, and fluticasone propionate sales are up. Yes, it’s spring time in Georgia.
A few miles into my trip I notice, as I swiftly merge onto I-20, that I’m smiling. I’m actually feeling pretty damn good and I’m enjoying my ride to the hardware store. A quick glance at the speedo tells me I’m enjoying my ride a little bit too much. I’m two miles short of hauling a ton. I change into the right lane and settle down to a more respectable speed. For the first time in a long while I’m sitting up straight into the wind. No need to tuck and hide myself behind the windshield to stay out of the cold airstream as much as possible. I see all manner of bikes out and about. It is Friday afternoon and the weekend has begun. I get it now.
Stash those battery tenders and dig out your warm weather gear, for riding season is finally here! Start your engines. It’s time to play in traffic!
I have said before that I am bored with street riding and that I’m done with it… I am not done with street riding. I confused perfunctory winter commuting with riding. I confused racing with riding. The time to ride, to really ride is upon us.
Life, again, is good!
Fun #MissBusaFact: Today, 23 years ago, I experienced my first kiss.
…and upon posting, another WordPress Surprise: