Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Who doesn't feel free when they're riding down a two lane road in the middle of nowhere? Living here in SE Arizona with lots and lots of open space and two lane roads to nowhere, I find it easy to get lost in freedom out on the road.
Although I prefer my backroads, I even feel free in the middle of heavy Interstate traffic. As hard as it may seem for non-riders, even riding in stupid maniacal traffic I feel free. When sometimes the riding gets a bit hairy in heavy ridiculous traffic, though, I'll find myself yelling out in defiance, "Motha Fuckaaaa!," and I'll usually roll the throttle and pass a few cars occupied by people whom I feel bad for, stuck in their cages and all. It's an adrenaline thing I guess, but I love the feeling of independence I always get when rolling out from such a situation.
Ever notice going down the freeway when you are passing or being passed by families in their minivans that the dads who are driving rarely look over at you? Maybe they're embarrassed; maybe they're resigned to their plight; maybe they just can't bear it. The moms riding shotgun typically look out the window at you with a forlorn expression, staring over usually seeing my wife riding behind me, wind blowing her hair, intent. Oftentimes I'll raise my hand and gesture a peace sign, and the mom will respond with a wry smile. I wonder if she too wishes she could change places with my wife.
The kids in the back seat are glued to the windows. I remember doing the same when I was a kid. Full of wonderment I was enthralled with the roar of the bike, the black leather jackets and chaps, dew rags, and dark sunglasses, and the rugged look of the biker. And when there was more than one bike, I would crane my neck for as long as I could watching the bikers pass us and quickly ride ahead, watching them until out of sight, eventually letting myself fall back into the car seat releasing a sigh of wistful desire.
When I was a kid many years ago my dad said to me, "Everytime they pass a law you lose some freedom." He was right. Imagine, in New York City it's illegal to purchase a fountain soda pop drink larger than 16 ounces. Are you fucking kidding me?!!
Helmet laws piss me off! Not because I think it's wrong to wear one, although I only do so when required, but because the law has taken away your freedom of choice. Notwithstanding the myriad of positions and arguments for or against, for me it's purely a matter of freedom. Since the attacks on 9-11, our civil rights have been severely curtailed. Surveillance cameras are ubiquitous. Photo-enforcement cameras lurk in waiting for you. Nothing is left unobserved. Except maybe in the middle of nowhere on our bikes. Still too far out for the long-arm of the law to press you into compliance.
So I ride. Because it's one of the few vestiges of freedom. So, when you get a chance to ride, go. And for you dads and moms cruising in that minivan, consider buying a bike and leaving the kids with grandma for a while, so you too can enjoy what we know to be true; that the freedom of the road is special, and it is to be cherished and protected for as long as possible.