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Observations From The Road: Things that Piss Me Off

When you cover a couple hundred miles on a day ride from where I live, you see a lot of other people on the road. Being on a motorcycle gives you a unique perch to see inside of theirs cars.

Because we have our own special extra-strength brand of assholishness here in the NY Metro bubble, the chances are pretty good that you will see drivers do things that will make you shake your head. Chances are even better that there will be a few who piss you off.

These are my observations from this weekend.

Hang Up and Drive

The amount of drivers on the road who are doing things in their cars aside from driving is staggering. They’re digging through the glovebox, reaching under the seats, eating, grabbing stuff from the back seat, messing with their dashboard displays, and of course… ON THE PHONE.

Oh, the phone. The blessing and the curse of technology. Do you see someone doing 32 mph weaving across the fast lane oblivious to the parade behind them? Odds are they aren’t drunk. They’re on the FUCKING PHONE!

The number of truly fascinating people worthy of not missing a single brilliant sentence that falls from their lips that I personally know? Exactly ZERO. Who the hell are all of these people talking to all the damned time?

True Story: A teenage girl on the phone smashed into the rear of my friend’s car which was parked in front of my house. She hit it hard enough to break the rear axle on the SUV. It sent her car careening up on to the curbed grass island in the middle of our road. When we ran outside after hearing the huge bang – the girl NEVER hung up the phone. She stayed on it crying to her friend until the police came.

WTF?

Car Seats, Booster Seats, Kids in Seatbelts

The 70’s are over. Having a toddler crawling around in the back window of the car, cradling an infant on your lap or having little Johnny hanging out the window on the Jersey Turnpike might not be the best idea.

Strap your kid in and see the previous “hang up and drive” section. It’s a jungle out there.

Left Lane Sandbagging

Hey, you! The one in the left lane on the highway going slower than the traffic in the 2 lanes to the right of you… MOVE! Keep right except to pass.

What is it that makes people feel like they have to just park it in the left lane? And then dial up a friend for a chat. 

US State Keep Right Laws | NY VTL 1120

How About You – What Are Your Roadway Peeves?

Go Home, Motorcycle – You’re Drunk

Searching for the Normal with a Triumph Tiger

See this girl?

Fuzzygalore Triumph

She’s pretty happy to be sitting on her Tiger and getting ready to roll into the evening. She… is me.

Wednesday night’s ride on the Tiger was the first one in about 6 weeks. The minute that I swung my leg over it and pressed the start button, I settled into a place that felt like home. There was a sense of normality in the greeting of it’s unmistakable engine note. I didn’t realize just how much I’d been starving for it.

At the risk of bumming you out, I’ve got to say that I’ve been feeling anything but normal. The recent loss of my dad has left an un-fillable hole in my heart. While I’m working towards returning to the me that my dad was proud of ~ I’m wrapped up in feelings of sadness, grief and a sense of guilt. It is a guilt for doing selfish things, for daring to want to be happy. Even though I know that is the very thing he’d want me to be.

When I clicked the bike in to gear and  pulled away I swear that I could hear my dad’s voice rattling around in my helmet, “Hey, Rach!” I guess that is my brain’s way of letting me know that he is still here with me.

I feel like a kook saying it  but it seems like I see signs of him in everything. He was in the unseasonably cool breeze that swirled around me as I stood alone in the parking lot this morning. He was in the lightning that traveled through the clouds as I worked my way through my evening run. He is returned to the Earth and he seems to be everywhere.

While I cut down the road – the Tiger felt so good, so tight, so right. The seat felt firm, the bars were in just the right place. The power stood waiting at the ready and the ease and confidence with which it tipped around corners … normal. THAT was the feeling I’ve been looking for.

With the passage of each mile I unconsciously gave myself permission to just be in that moment. I enjoyed my ride and I felt happy. All of the noise in my head went to sleep. That is one of the most beautiful aspects of riding a motorcycle for me – the moment when it allows you slip into the truest, most open form of yourself.

Motorcycles – they’re good for you.

Fuzzygalore Triumph

Cheers to feeling normal, if just for a little while.

Dear Dad – I Love You. Thank You for Loving Me.

Hi Dad,

No matter how many hours you spend listening to the air moving through a breathing machine, how much you stare at the peaks and valleys that roll across a hospital monitor, how long someone has been sick – you never really believe that one whoosh of air through the tubes will be the last. I know it has been a long and difficult battle and I know that you were tired. But I just can’t believe that you’re gone.

You always smiled sweetly when you told me the story of how I was just a wee girl and you bought me a beach bucket and shovel. When you gave it to me I looked up at you with stars in my eyes and said, “Oh, Daddy! You’re the best daddy I ever had.” Never has that been more true than today.

In just a few hours an irreparable hole has been torn in the fabric of my life. Though I’ve tried to steel myself to eventually face this day, the truth is – you can never really be prepared for this type of finality. I miss knowing you are here in the world. It tears me apart that I will never again hear you say, “boy, am I glad to see you,” and I’ll never again say, “I’m always glad to see you,” in return. You know, the way we always did.

When you last held my hand and touched my cheek, you asked me to say a prayer for you. Well, I want you to know that I did. I prayed for you to have peace, to be without fear, without pain. But I can’t help but be afraid. I’m afraid that I’ll forget what your voice sounds like or that I won’t be able to hear your laugh anymore when I think about you.

Mom told me today that you still carry my kindergarten picture in your wallet. After 35 years in there it has long since faded but she said you still loved it. Even though you’ve always told me that you love me and that you are proud of me, it’s the little things like that make me feel like a million bucks. Underneath that tough, brave, unapologetic exterior you have always been a softy. Thank you for always loving me, no matter what.

I’m really sad that we never did get to take a ride in the Ural together. I know how much you were looking forward to that. If it’s okay with mom, I’d like to ride you to the place where we will spread your ashes. Never in a million years did I think our ride together would turn out this way, but it is all I can do.

“Don’t you let those boys see you cry.” Do you remember when you said that to me? Well, I’m trying, Dad. I’m trying.

I love you. Always.

-Rach

My Dad <3

The Return of the Night Rider

The summer solstice came floating in on the breeze Friday night. The weather was cool. So much so that I wished I had a sweatshirt with me as my daughter Chloe and I watched the late sunset tiptoe over the water and on past the edge of the tree line.

long island sunset on the summer solstice

Following the longest day of the year came summer, all at once. We moved from sweatshirt-cool in the evening to hot and humid with the ever-present threat of a  rainstorm. Big blocky thunderheads have muscled their way into the skies in the late afternoons but haven’t done much other than look threatening.

On Monday evening the air was sticky. As the hour hand swept closer to the 9 on the clock, a light breeze finally began to blow. With the sun tucked in for the night and the air finally starting to cool it seemed the perfect time for a night ride.

I don’t pleasure ride after dark very often. They’re usually just around-town affairs or point to point trips. But sometimes? Sometimes you just need a little something to get a fix. With the heat of summer here to stay, so too comes the return of the night rider.

stony brook post office

As short as my night rides often are, they are awfully sweet. There is a sense of stillness and solitude that I don’t often find during the day when the world is in the grips of it’s hustle and bustle.

Familiar places look different out of the burn of the sun. Shadows and soft light cover everything. And the Ural? It sure makes it easy to slow things down, to relax and savor the night sky.

Summer night riding… <3

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