Living And Riding Faster Than The Fear.

 

Sinister squalls chased us for two days through Idaho, Washington and Oregon, pounding us with their sound and fury, pushing our group’s morale south of desperation while we battled driving rain, chunks of snow, near freezing temperatures and near zero visibility.

So we fled, tails between our legs, scrambling east towards hope because in Prairie City, Oregon, we had a warm bed waiting. Dark disturbances filled my rearview as I pulled to the side, waiting for Road Dirt Editor-In-Chief Rob Brooks to round the bend after yet one more photo stop. I had promised him the Pacific Northwest ride of a lifetime, but not like this.

To Mild Hogs photographer Aaron Whiteman it was just another photo capturing a cold, wet, horrid day in June, but I saw more. As I pondered the moment in time frozen by his lens a deeper meaning uncoiled.

The picture was a metaphor, an allegory that burrowed deep into spaces in my mind I pretend don’t exist, things about the sport of motorcycling I bury beneath the temporal joy of the next corner.

The dark clouds looming over my shoulder represent all of my anxieties and fears about the moto-life that chose me, cancerous thoughts polluting my confidence during the rare moments I am not in motion. My anxieties whisper their ugliness when I am still, not wearing a helmet to block their voice.

“Am I good enough to do this? When will my luck run out? Will this claim my life someday? How many apexes can I blitz before I find one with my name on it? What will my last thoughts be the moment before I become a hood ornament for the log truck crowding my lane?”

I think back to all the accidents and near misses in my moto-life, artillery shots over the bow of my ego feeding the corrosive thoughts that haunt me like the dark cloud in the photo. How long before a near-miss becomes a direct hit?

Editor Rob’s ride for the week with us, a Honda ST 1300.

 

“You’re not good enough,” the clouds murmur. “You are just a man, fragile flesh and blood not meant to move this fast. You push your luck too much. Eventually you will make a mistake, maybe not today, this month or this season, but eventually you will blunder. I am the dark cloud of fate and I am patient, never leaving, always watching.”

In the photo I look back on the angry, puffy beasts from my blood red steed with it’s malfunctioning headlight, a symbolic victim of the weather. If my bulletproof VFR is failing, how long until I fall victim to this sport?

No escaping the rain for long, even in Fossil, OR.

 

Then a closer look. Beneath the bike is a shadow. A shadow requires sun.

Sunlight and blue skies are images of hope, promise and joy. If I could, I would reach into that photo, grab my helmet and spin it toward that glowing omen. A simple, small turn of my head up and to my left and I would have seen the sun and the warmth of it’s hope. How ironic that to see the promise I would have to reach into the photo and get my head right.

Get my head right indeed. Put clouds in my rear-view. Better yet, I don’t even look in the rearview, I bury the clouds behind me where they belong, I forget the doubt, fear and anxiety of tossing my body through space and time with no protection other than wearing used skin from a cow, goat or kangaroo. We should remember the lessons, not the clouds.

The beauty and joy of the ride are worth the fears and hardships.

 

We only pass this way but once and here is how we shall use our time. We will throw our legs over fast bikes and travel the country with the like minded, similarly insane comrades. Time and speed will be how we manipulate our world and bring it under our control, not the other way around. We will twist life’s throttle instead of letting life’s throttle twist us. Most of the time we will make it to another sunrise with all our “sad captains” with whom we chose to lose our minds.

But if not, if we shall not make the next sunrise, if the clouds shall catch up and claim us, then motorcycling has been the “perfect waste of time.”

Ted

9 Comments

  1. Avatar

    A well-written, introspective piece of prose, my friend. Gives voice to those times we all toy with the fears and doubts, or rather, let them toy with us.

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Ted, you write about things so well that all of us think about, but never discuss within our group of riding buddies. Once again…….well done.

      Reply
      • Avatar

        Agreed, Bill. Ted’s musings touch something deep in all of us here at Road Dirt, and definitely with many of our readers. He’s certainly a treasure.

        Reply
  2. Avatar

    I was given an injection by a Dr that hit my spine and basically crippled me with back pain 5 days after buying a 2019 Chieftain Classic and I have been afraid to ride it for the last year. I am going to ride the bike now and face my fear of dropping or falling as I just turned 60 and I may not have much more time to ride at all? But I have never lived with fear before, as you said why start now? The end can come anytime so I choose to live and ride like it’s my last time I get a chance? Thanks for the uplifting read!

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Billy, in our hearts, we’re riding with you. Love and prayers, friend!

      Reply
    • Avatar

      “Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere; and sometimes, in the middle of nowhere, you find yourself.”

      Ride.. ride. Find yourself, somewhere… anywhere. Ride.. feel alive..

      Reply
      • Ted Edwards

        Thank you Udaya. I see you get it.

        Reply
  3. Avatar

    While reading I immediately thought of the drives to far away races and my misgivings about why I’m going riding. Sometimes the thoughts were hard to beat back. Sometimes they would last all the way to the starting line. And then the inconvenient thoughts would evaporate and the beauty of moving on 2 wheels with my favorite people on the planet would appear. Cool essay Ted.

    Reply
    • Ted Edwards

      Thank you for your comments Scott. I appreciate your comments, as we appreciate all of our readers at Road Dirt. Keep moving on two wheels. Somehow, it forces the whole world to make sense.

      Reply

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