Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I haven't ridden in a few days. I am okay with that as there is so much going on. Ken came home last night telling me of a "new" road he found that climbs and twists through rural Langley. We have done that road before, I remind him. For me the foliage and the tarmac are in my minds' eye. It was nearing dusk, with just enough light to see pebbles strewn across corners. Gravel driveways warned us that we were not alone, though the quiet was only broken by the hum of the motor. We had to turn around at a few dead ends, but even that afforded us the luxury of peeking into the acreage's that mostly go unnoticed. As light faded we found our way to the main street, leaving behind the tranquility and twists for the cacophony and intersections. I love that in the midst of chaos you can find an oasis where you can still hear the creek water running or a horse's neigh - though once again - you must look for that road as it is off the beaten path.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

It has been difficult for me to write since Tuesday. Everything was going great. I felt confident, even after narrowly missing be wiped out by a tow truck. When I heard the ICBC tester tell me the speed was 30 km my heart sank. I knew it was automatic failure. How I missed the sign was apparent....I was merging onto Fraser Highway and there were cars blocking my view. I felt sure that on a "highway" a construction zone would be at least 50 km...but alas, when I heard her voice I groaned. To complicate matters, my motorcycle novice license expired the next day....and cannot be renewed. I had to re-take the Learners test..and now I have to re-take the Motorcycle Skills Test before I am able to ride without my chaperone and over 60 km, or at night. I got back on the bike, and out....I do still feel confident and that I am good rider. The errors that were pointed out were minor. Automatic failure though with speed zones that are school, playground or construction. (sigh) (sigh) It feels like I have been learning forever. I got my Learners on a whim as I drove by Motor Vehicles one day. I didn't take lessons until August and then I was hooked. By the time I was ready for the test, I was knee deep in medical issues and my insurance ran out. When I got the 250 in May, then I really wanted to ride...and so....back I will go for the Skills test next...and you will see me riding solo soon...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

home

Riding home isn't always part of the adventure. At least, unless you are with Ken. We head out through the First Nations territories on the road from Penticton to Keremos. We are the sole occupants of the asphalt that has warning signs of No Trespassing Private Road every half a kilometer. We both mention our notice of the other signs....one, a horse at full speed..the other is of a mountain goat. It is a nice journey of easy curves within sloping hills, rusting cars and sage brush. When we hit Hwy 3 it is all about getting home and becomes like a game of Diddykong Racing, collecting points each time we pass a car.

When we turn onto Old Hedley Hwy, we are back to touring the countryside. Old Hedley Hwy runs along the river, in parts peeking over to Hwy 3. It is a gentle ride pitting rider against road. We encounter only one car and one bike the entire trip - at least 20 minutes. We both note that there are no breaks in the yellow line. There is no safe place to pass because once you are finished your left you are preparing for a right.

As I drink in the scene, I think of days gone by, and how it might have looked. I see adits, camouflaged by flora, giving hint to the origin of the settlements we have passed today. Farms that were once self-sufficient, now are strewn with motor-homes and weeds. Fruit country is just coming alive with stands beginning to open as holiday traffic begins. Diners pop up along the way to nourish truckers and adventurers.

We are back on Hwy 3 and we notice another change in temperature. We hit Manning Park and stop to don sweaters and rain gear. It is not raining hard, but we want to be prepared. When we stop we see tourists kneeling down feeding groundhogs. There are holes strewn throughout the park grass, and they are completely unafraid at the hand that feeds them. One sneaks up and scares a guy from behind. Everyone has a camera and a nut to offer and the little guys are all posers. I cannot imagine that in yesteryear it would even be thought of as novel to see anything burrow from a hole, let alone want to spend time communing with it unless it was on the other end of a gun.

It was a break before the dreaded Hope home drive. We hit light rain but we hardly notice and continue on our way. After Chilliwack we are back in the Diddykong game, though mostly sticking to our only little group that moves in the left lane. Every now and the group catches up to someone and it takes a minute or two for them to realize they need to move. If there is much hesitation, the group begins to go around...one by one. Once again back in formation, we sail on. The Hwy back was not as hard as usual. Perhaps because we had many great rides, maybe we are just used to sticking this part out. We are down the driveway with Ken's usual "We made it" out. Until next ride.....

Highway 20 Ride

The morning began early, leaving through Peace Arch crossing into the US. From the I-5 we head to Lakeway Dr, and wind around Sudden Valley where the only other thing that seems awake are bunnies that eagerly run along side us and then dart into bushes. It is a quest to avoid all traffic as we follow the Skagit River and head to Concrete for breakfast. The map was checked and a few u-turns in order to maximize the experience of a new road along the way. After being refueled with coffee, the goal is renewed to avoid vehicles, and not to hit a bunny. We curve around familiar roads, canopied by trees; next destination Winthrop. The Cascades never cease to enthrall me. The gorges, jutting cliffs, waterfalls and pristine peaks. Although this route is familiar, the beauty thrills me each time. Snow is still piled at the sides of the roads as we reach the summit. The drop in temperature is apparent.

The tips of my fingers are really cold, so I take my gloves off for a few minutes. It sounds ridiculous but is wisdom from an old lore. When I put the gloves back on, I am grateful they can warm me. It changes my perspective. When they were on and my finger tips were getting cold, I could not fully appreciate my gloves. When they are taken off and I have time to fully understand how much they were warming me, I am indebted to their protection. The descent into the Methow Valley the thermometer rises. We pushed through the quaint western town of Winthrop....we have been there before, and decide to wait to stop somewhere new.

The road continues to mesmerize as we wind through farms and rivers. The day is heating up and we pass through to Omak, our actual destination being a big-box store of no name. They can do their own advertising, as I am full of dissonance that I succumb to the lure of their budget wares on the backs of slave laborers.

We have agreed that on our bike trips we will eat only at local restaurants - no chains....our next vow will be to stay out of big-box stores. In Omak we disrobe as much as possible and head to 97 North, through Tonsaket on the Loomis Highway that takes us up to Oroville. We see two deer perished by cars within a mile of each other. It was eery to see their carcasses decaying in the afternoon heat. The mood is somber for a few minutes, as I let my mind wonder what would happen if we were the vehicle to hit the deer. A smell wafts through my thoughts to pull me back to now.

The sultry air is perfumed with an aroma, sweet and fragrant that reminds me of ginger. My senses are full and and sated. We stop by a lake for stretch and photo ops. I can hear fishermen on the lake, telling stories....laughing. Back on the bike the road is idyllic as we are by ourselves on twisting tarmac that takes us up to the border. The 10 minute wait with the sun beating down was one of the longest parts of the day. Once we are through Ken is once again finding those roads less traveled.

It is then that the metaphor of taking a unique route dawns on me. It can take longer, but is more scenic. It will often have a few more twists, turns and dangers along the way. You can be isolated on the road less traveled, but you can also open it up and really experience the thrill of the full throttle and full adrenalin. My husband has always preferred this road. For him, the journey is the adventure...it is not just about getting from one point to another. This time in my head nudges me to recognize Ken's individuality and brio.

We take the East Lake Road from Oliver to Penticton, with no vehicles impeding us. Such a rare opportunity...We both love this road as Skaha Lake and the road run beside each other. A long, relieving sigh describes the panorama of the lake and route. There are only so many ways to describe the curve of the road and the timbre of the motor as you gear down, enter, accelerate right, then left. The rhythm is natural and we arrive at the end, gratified with almost 9 hours of riding.


PS the party was not set to start for about half on hour, and so, in true biker form, I change from a sweater to a light shirt at the side of the road - cars passing, heads turning....nothing showed - I had on a tank top....but they thought it might!! I did my nails - fingers and toes, fixed my hair and put on makeup. When Ken told people at the party they all thought he must be joking.....they would not believe that I would do that.....they obviously do now...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Tonight it is me that is worried about him. He and the Pan are stranded down the road.. My bike is parked as best I could before the call that it is fuel he needs. I consider the delivery carefully before I take off, on foot, down the road to deliver the much needed elixir. Before the impending doom, I enjoyed the "status quo" of bucolic settings amidst crotch rockets and posers. Lest you are my followers, and confess your ego, then suffice it to say you enjoy the laud of the character and flash of the camera to confirm your worth....and if that has no appeal then you completely and utterly understand where I am coming from my friend. Not that anyone is immune to that sense of recognition, but, that it is the realization that recognition is not in and of itself a goal but a by-product of what is going on around us. But, I must take my leave now for the intellectual stimulation of Housewives of Orange Country....ttfn..

Monday, June 14, 2010

Being new to this mechanical machine means that I am not always sure what the problem might be. We took off last night for a local ride....Norman is still tweaking the Pan. He left and I pulled out with full throttle and no power. I checked the fuel - it was on.....and I went through the checklist in my mind. What could it be...it felt like I had no throttle at all, but I was stalling....and it still had a little give. After a few minutes, when I am not behind him, he doubles back. I feel heavy hearted as I head for the driveway. Even when he tried, it is the same result. He checked the fuel, he wiggled the plugs.....and then - just before he hands it back to me, he notices the choke is on still. Oops......at least we are up and out of here now. Ready for the bucolic journey winding through the farmlands to serenity....

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Driving through the farmlands just before dusk, I formulated a theory that if we all rode, only rode, we would be much happier people. Allow me to justify this speculation.

The gathering of necessities would be just that. Space being limited would oblige prudence and planning. No worry of extra cookies or pop being thrown in with the veggies and fruit. From this, I could deduce that we would be much healthier, therefore happier. And, it would not just be food that we would have to consider. Any shopping would be limited to what we could strap with a bungy cord, or fit in a backpack. No flat-screen TV would even be given a second consideration. I also deduce we would have less financial woes, leading again, to greater happiness. Because there is no lure of shopping, we would not have the lust for things that seems to consume many of us. I confess I have bought things I had no idea I needed.....and then never used....because in fact, I never needed it in the first place. My house would be much less cluttered and therefore need a lot less cleaning....again contributing to my greater joy.

These thoughts also brought to mind the simplicity of life for the Plains aboriginal. They knew all about carrying their life on their backs. They moved often, following the herd of buffalo. Their lives could be packed in a moment, and reassembled elsewhere. They learned how to live from the land, using only what they needed. Their loge was the people and not a place. This sounds ideal to me, as the clutter of our lives can choke out the people and relationships. If we had to move using a bike, we would be forced to consider the use of everything. We would share more things cooperatively, contributing to the community and common good of all. Happiness would abound....

I don't even have to give you the argument for the environment - it is clearly apparent. Being earthy friendly makes most people happier, therefore I would be happier.

So, if we all just rode bikes, we would be utterly sublime.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Sometimes only a ride will do...

...and so we headed out with the rebel tonight to show him our haunts. We first took him to our farmland meandering around the dike area in Delta. I really love riding beside the highway on a country road. You have the speed without the traffic. Then later we head to the Tim Horton's in Langley as Friday night it is a hangout for cars.....old, restored, pristine, modified, poser, overdone, vintage, classic...you name it, you will find it in the parking lot and spilling into the the motor vehicle branch. We walk the strip, enjoy some of the sights and head for home. Norman was having a little trouble with the Panhead. A few stalls and adjustments and we are off again. We find the road less traveled to get home, along Colebrook Road with a chicane like turn and a few twists. I am riding behind now, watching the rebel and the Pan head up the hill and around the twists.

For the rebel, the world changed today with the loss of his grandpa. Getting on the road, reminding us that life is fragile, vulnerable, scary, fun, busy, and serene all within thirty minutes, is sometimes all that will do. It is the vehicle that transports us to the sublime amidst the mundane......ride on.

We couldn't ride.....

...because of rain....but I wanted to. Even with the threat of saturated boots and gloves, I was finding myself tolerant of less than ideal conditions. Usually the notion of intentionally giving up the protection of warmth and safety from skidding, is my default. On closer examination, I reason that there will be times I will be subjected to the extremes of climate. It is not that adrenalin has poured through my veins. Conatus, not recklessness is my argument. I like to be prepared for eventualities.

Alas, we did not ride and I convince myself that I will inculcate inclement riding another day...there are several opportunities in Vancouver.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Part of me knows the excitement of a ride to Cloverdale will soon wear off. I discern it will, and yet like my dog excited to see his leash jingle I am ready and up the driveway before Ken has started his bike. I need to relish the pleasure such a mundane and ordinary journey bestows on me while I can. We made our way to Cafe Pellorino tonight for our favourite barista (our 3rd born) to prepare us a beverage. She didn't disappoint whipping up a mango strawberry smoothy that would have worked as dinner and dessert. I am content with riding in the city - though I would probably complain if we were talking.

I also know that time in the seat will bolster any wariness or hesitation that I have. I was reminded to continually check my blindspots when a car was suddenly beside me. This is a good reminder. Check and double check. The movements, the shifts seem fluid now, mostly. I feel aware of my surroundings but not fearful. Riding a 250 helps me experience the road - I mean every bump in the road, every manhole cover, pebble. I am learning to avoid the hazards, watch for Ken beside me in P3 or P1 and watch a stale green long enough to have my cut off point. I love and hate round-abouts at the same time. I was taught to signal in and out of them, but find that others would be confused. I won't say I just point and pray, but I certainly make sure they see where I am going.

I think on Thursday we will ride to Langley again......and I am already looking forward to it......

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Panhead on the Road

An hour before dusk rivals against an hour after sunrise, for riding. Nearing dusk is when we headed down to the farmlands and around some country roads close to home, yet far away. He looked marvelous and learning to shift with his left hand was easy. The bike barely needs to shift.....it has power. I am in 5th while he is still working to 3rd. It is ideal to be riding behind right now. I see the Panhead gliding smoothly, the rider and bike become one. The evidence that he is in the groove ensues when he puts his left hand on his hip. I can't see his face but I know that he is smiling....and not the smug kind of "I know I am cool" smile, but the "I love this bike and am so satisfied" smile. We twist, turn and even ride through a cattle tunnel that goes under Highway 99 and out by the dump. I am content with going at my own pace as he pulls further away. He is learning the power and the cadence of the motor. I am enjoying the sun on our back and the view from behind him.

When we are again among the houses and stop lights, the din of lawnmowers and sirens, I long to go back and start from the beginning. I want to keep living in that moment of pure joy and satisfaction at something so simple. Reluctantly, I park the bike until the next ride. I have rarely had those moments when I felt like I was called in to go to bed just when the games in the neighbourhood were getting good...you finally established all the rules and the teams are set and then mom calls you in....at once. That has happened to me recently....but only when I have been riding. I think...no....actually, I know, I have the bug and the tug for the open-road and the wind.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Sun Came Out....

...and we went for a ride. We started with breakfast in Langley at a little hole-in-the-wall and from there we headed to Fort Langley, and along River Rd. It was beautiful, serene, pastoral and quiet!! Only one car impeded us for a moment or two. That is riding! There are a few twists, but not enough to get too excited about. River Road ends at a great little fishing spot or make out place. Riding home Langley was starting to get busy. Saturday traffic is no place to ride. I also had to reef on the brakes at one point, as the intersection was full of left turners, and I wouldn't have made it. I got the feel of the bike quickly and although I went over the white lines, I was able to stop a lot quicker than I would have anticipated. It didn't rattle me either. I felt in control.

Of course all day long I have been pining to get out again. Ken insured the Panhead and so we will be out in a few hours, enjoying the wind again. I am loving riding. It is so great to poke around my neighbourhood and my city, seeing sites for the first time. The freedom in the wind and the road breathe life into me.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

There are wonderful things about living in southwestern BC, but recently, the weather has not been one of them. It is hard to suit up to ride when you are already wet. I know some of you die-hards will call me a wuss. I am not really, but I find that if your hands are shaking when you are clutching you can pop it when you mean to slip it. This could clearly launch me over the handlebars...and then on top of being wet, I would have road rash. I have an aversion to road rash, so I don't ride in the rain, knowingly. I have inadvertently.

So, my bike has been sitting idle, getting to know all the others in the garage. They have been idle too, so at least we don't have a jealous thing going on.