In the words of Billy Corgan, “Today is the greatest day I’ve ever known.” Yes, a little over the top – considering the births of my children, my wedding day and Feb. 6, 2011 – but still, it was nothing to shake a stick at.
The weather was with us, the guys are funny, interesting and thoughtful and my first big road trip has revealed some insight I now carry like valued possessions. Some small and some large, but all true.
Top 10 truths from the road:
1. My ass (not in the global sense, but my actual Gluteus Maximus) hurts a lot more from two hours on my motorcycle than two hours on my rock-hard road bicycle.
2. Quality gas stations in southern Indiana are hit and miss.
3. People equally fear, respect and enjoy a group of Harleys and the riders on them. Most times we are allowed to pass like a parade or funeral line – as a complete and sacred unit.
4. Fellowship is everywhere and it’s instantaneous.
5. The shape of Kentucky is one of the best state shapes available.
6. Outdoor advertising is mostly lost on bikers. You spend little time looking at anything that’s not directly in front of you. One of the very few outdoor headlines I read today was 18 miles north of Nashville and it read, “Prepare to meet thy God.” I was hoping they didn’t mean that literally, because I was doing about 80 mph on a corner and seriously needed to brush my teeth.
7. I packed too much. Most of these fellas are just rolling with a single bag – and it’s not so big. I don’t think I’m high maintenance, right? Crap.
8. Sunscreen and lip balm are our friends.
9. There are seven more wolves in my wolfpack.
10. Lastly, the largest and most obvious truth, is one that addresses the greatness of being on a cycle. It’s a point that’s made in “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” Robert M. Pirsig talks about traveling in a car verses going by bike. Harley-Davidson exploits the same fact in their last TV spot, “No Cages.” Persig explains how life in a car is passive. The windshield is like a television. You’re inside a controlled environment and the world goes by in a frame. He explains the cycle’s side of the story this way:
“On a cycle the frame is gone. You’re completely in contact with it all. You’re in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming.”
Overwhelming indeed. Being in the scene means tasting the subtle differences in the air or riding through cold pockets where you feel the temperature drop 10 degrees. It’s smelling the sweet cologne of each and every road kill or hearing the jingling of iron chains on the back of a flatbed semi. It’s experiencing so many things you just can’t in the “cage” of your car. Even in a convertible, you can’t match the 100 percent active participation of being on two wheels.
And that’s the truth.
Tomorrow, we hit Tupelo, Miss. and then on to the flood-ridden greater Memphis area. I hope to let the trip reveal other insightful gems and to simply enjoy the ride.