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.
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.
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
Kenny and I have been riding motorcycles together for about 7 years now. On the surface we often move in unison. To the observer we seem to ride with the same style, same pace, and the same lines. On more than one occasion it has been called a dance. This dance that we do together is something that I have never experienced with another rider at this depth. I can honestly say that I love to ride with Kenny. 99% of the time it’s a beautiful thing.
The Other 1% – The Downside of the Riding with a Loved One
By the nature of your relationship, there is a focus that your mate gets that a friend doesn’t. What people don’t often consider is that there is an unspoken downside to riding with a loved one. Worry.
Even when you are confident that your partner will do everything in their power to keep themselves safe, it’s the things that are outside of their realm of control that can really eat away at you.
The Seeds of My Worry
I confess. I have become a major worry wart after watching the accident that claimed the lives of Michael and Cyndi last September. I don’t think I will ever be the same. While I’ve learned to cope with what I saw, as a human being I don’t believe I will ever really forget. It has left a scar on my heart and mind.
As a result, when I watch Kenny riding I feel this overwhelming need to protect him; to try to keep him safe. As if I could.
While in Kentucky this past spring on a day ride I was so wound up about it, I had to drop back to keep him out of my sight. I couldn’t concentrate on my own ride. I was too busy “checking” everything he was doing in front of me. I was praying a car didn’t pull out, wishing with all my might that the tires would stick to the road, mentally sweeping gravel out of the turns. It was exhausting and straight-up unhealthy.
Working Through It All
We two are completely at the mercy of the universe, like everyone else. The two of us still have so many places to go together, so many adventures not yet taken. I daydream about it often; Kenny and me dancing along the asphalt. I’m working hard to give myself over to the process and to learn to trust again. One step at a time…
How about you – Do you ride with your partner? Is it wonderful, terrible or maybe a little of both?
Riding relationships, platonic or otherwise can be tricky to navigate. In my experience so far I can sum them up in three main categories.
It’s Not You, It’s Me
I love you, you’re wonderful. Don’t ever change. Except for the part where you want go riding with me.
Sometimes you really like someone and yet their riding habits don’t mesh with yours. Maybe they ride too close, ride too fast, ride too slow. Maybe they take forever at gas stops, never show up on time, wait until we’re about to leave to decide that they need to fill their tank. I have a very small threshold of tolerance for these nit-picky things. My liking a person enough to hang out with them doesn’t seem to bridge the annoyance gap. I’m callous that way.
Dysfunctional Relationship Riding
This is another strange predicament, much like that break-up where the sex is good so you still hang out occasionally. You share exhilarating riding but the stopping is a drag. Maybe you don’t click on a conversational level. Different politics, points of view, maybe they’re just a drip. You want to drop them like a bad habit but the riding is good so you just can’t quit ‘em!
I So Want To Make Out With You Right Now!
Every once in a while it happens. You meet a riding partner that fits you like a glove. You meet that someone who shares the same mindset, a comparable pace and the same thirst for adventure. This is riding partner nirvana! Someone whom you never have to wonder if they’re going to be riding up your ass, dragging behind, leaving you behind. You don’t worry if they are into the route, if the day is too long, if they are enjoying themselves. You just know. They’re like you. They get it. When you find this relationship, cherish it. You’ve got to kiss a lot of frogs before this prince(ss) shows up.
Have you had similar experiences? Do you have another relationship type to add to my list?
I found this gem on a picture CD that was buried deep in our spare bedroom closet. I believe it was taken in 1999 outside of the North Castle Diner in Westchester, New York. I have no idea who actually took the photo.
Even though it is me, I barely recognize the person standing there. I know the motorcycle better than I know the girl. The motorcycle hasn’t changed at all. This was the time in my riding life when I was still invincible. I sometimes miss that girl; miss those Sunday rides with the guys. But really what I think I miss most is the blissful ignorance.
I’ve got a few years distance now to look back on those days. On many occasions I have asked myself if it was me that kept me safe, some higher power or if it was just pure luck. Though I will never know for sure, I am grateful.
So what do you think? Do you believe in luck?