Around Town with Michael
When I was sixteen I lived with my parents in the Midlands of England. In the UK one could get a motorcycle license at sixteen. I got my license and my parents bought me my first motorcycle. I commuted to my school on it. It was a 250cc Triumph Tiger Cub. That was fifty-four years ago. I now own a 1200cc Triumph Bonneville. In between these two bikes I have owned three Harley’s, a BMW, two Honda’s, a Bultaco and two BSA Lightnings. Just as with all the humans and animals in my life, each bike had its own distinct personality. I won’t go into the details of the quirks of those old friends but I will say that motorcycles have put me as close to flying on my own while still being on the ground.
Traveling on a motorcycle is unlike being in any other motor vehicle with the possible exception of a convertible. The operator is in the world instead of traveling through the world. Smells that would never make it into the cabin of a car, can be so strong on a bike even at speed that the operator can’t help but connect to them. The rider can also taste the air. The sense of touch is activated by the wind that is created by passing through it at speed. Birds can be heard as can can conversations of people in the street. So, all senses are activated. The rider also feels and hears the motor underneath them and their body reacts to the terrain upon which the motorcycle is traversing.
I took my first ride of the season on Ruby, my Triumph Bonneville last week. Just as with riding Cyra, my mare, being on a motorcycle never gets old. True, I am much more conservative in my riding style as compared to when I was in my twenties but I still get after Ruby from a dead stop asking her to rocket me from zero to sixty in mere seconds. That never gets old either. My current riding approach is to find a half hour or so to go out on a route I have crafted that keeps me mostly off busy throughfares and gives me twisting roads and hills to carve through with my two wheeled friend. I have taken longer journeys in the past on my bikes. I once road the interstate the length of Vermont in the rain with my college roommate on the bike with me. Those days are behind me now.
I respect Ruby’s power. She has the potential to get me into serious trouble but that is not what I seek with her. I know what she is capable of. I also know what I am comfortable doing on our adventures. I am content to hop on Ruby when weather and time allow even for short rides to reconnect to the feeling of flying while still on the ground.