What I like best about hitting the open road on the back of a motorcycle isn’t just one thing; it’s five. My five senses, to be exact.
Now, I’m not what anyone would call a daredevil or a tough biker chick, but I like to think that unless something utterly terrifies me (like driving a car in New York City), I’ll try anything once. So when I had the chance to ride a motorcycle (driven by someone I trusted completely, of course), I climbed aboard. That first ride around a parking lot was heart-stoppingly, mind-blowingly frightening (keep in mind we were going under 15 mph). What stands out to me the most, when I think back on it, was the vulnerability of it all; feeling so exposed to the elements and the possibility of becoming intimately acquainted with the road surface if something went wrong. When I climbed off, knees quaking, I thought I’d had enough. I vowed never to get back on another bike.
But there was another time, another bike. This time it was a motorcycle with a less severe riding position, one where I didn’t feel like I was perched on the edge of a tiny seat. And where I didn’t feel like the only thing between the blacktop and me was my grip strength and sheer determination. This time was different; I felt safer, snuggled up and holding on. It took a few rides before I dared loosen my grip on my fearless driver, and a few more before I would turn my head and open my eyes.
But I got a helmet and a jacket with armor. I learned when to lean, and how to sit back and enjoy the ride. I’m still trying to get the hang of not banging my head into my partner’s back when we come to a stop. But I wasn’t terrified anymore. In fact, I kind of loved it.
I love that the ride, not the destination, is the point. I love feeling the wind around me, and opening my visor so the sun can warm my face. I love seeing the tiny details that would’ve gone unnoticed from a car window, like a flower barely peeking out of some underbrush on the side of a road. I love hearing the whoosh of the wind around my helmet and feeling my body move with the bike (and my partner). I love smelling the fresh-cut grass, and even the freshly fertilized fields. I love that I feel like I’m part of the environment, not just passing through it in an air-conditioned car.
I also love tuning out everything else and retreating into my bubble, as I like to call it. I’m with my favorite person in the world, following the gentle curves of the road or roaring down a straight stretch of highway, but I’m also completely separate. We don’t have any radio communicators in our helmets, so I’m alone with my thoughts as we ride along, content to follow wherever the road takes us.