I’m still discovering new roads around Prescott. Heading west on Iron Springs Road instead of my usual going-to-town east launched me immediately into unexplored territory. I’d planned to take two left turns at Kirkland and Kirkland Junction to create a 50 mile loop, but I felt so wonderfully alive when I got to the second intersection…I turned right instead.
Beneath the ordinary appearance of this cold Arizona morning, marvelous worlds turned unnoticed. Chemistry, physics and thermodynamics meshed in unlikely perfection to sustain a planet brimming with life. Dazzling contraptions, teeming yet fragile, cycled endlessly into and out of existence. Earth’s intertwined systems called for a conscious observer to appreciate their complex beauty.
Today that would be me…alert envoy on a desert-colored Harley Fat Bob, taking the long way from Phoenix to Prescott.
I’ve been on the new rocket job for months now without posting to CarpeMoto (5 month gap). When I got home tonight, I told Rosalie I’d developed a theory for why I always feel so tired. Constant 11-12 hour days at the office are a factor.
This is the Moto I think I may Carpe.
“Reflections on Motorcycles and Books” is the subtitle to “Riding with Rilke“, a classic ride story written by Ted Bishop. Ted is an English professor at the University of Alberta and a serious “book guy”. His research into English Modernist writers requires him to visit university and private book collections to study the original manuscripts of writers like Virginia Woolf, James Joyce and George Bernard Shaw.
In the summer of 2004, combining business with pleasure, Professor Bishop rode his Ducati Monster from Edmonton to Austin, Texas, covering a wide swath of western North America en-route. He gives us a well-told story about his adventure. Ted also reflects on manuscript research and and famous writers’ interest in motorcycles.
‘The Big Store’ is reducing its inventory, selling its older rental movies. A Norton Commando?…I’ll spend $5.
The film was a pleasant surprise. Rosalie liked it too.
‘What would you do?’ the subtitle asks…with a wedding planned in a few weeks and a diagnosis of terminal cancer? Ben does what most of us would. He buys an old Norton and takes off.
Beautiful Canadian scenery, whacky tourist attractions and unusual encounters gain a special poignancy and charge with death sharing the stage. Ben and his old Commando beat odds steeper than Ben’s prognosis when they make it to Vancouver Island seven days later. The road, of course, is Ben’s life; a week, his lifespan.
Motorcycle riding has potential to be a spiritual exercise, a “memento mori” (Latin: “remember you will die”). Awareness of an element of risk fosters a more intense appreciation of life. Life in the moment–vivid life–is what many of us experience on a motorcycle. A skull tattoo would probably enhance this feeling (…, Rosie?).
Asked if he had taken any pictures on his trip, Ben answers, “Yeah, a lifetime’s worth.”
Carpe = Grab it! Do it! Pin it!
Moto = Two wheels whimsically propelled by exploding dinosaur residue
A few years ago, at age 54, I bought a neat little Suzuki DRZ400SM (SuperMoto) and learned to ride it on the rural roads of San Juan Island. It sounded like a lawnmower but it was easy to ride and was a great-handling little bike. I was hooked.
More than the other sports I’ve tried, riding motorcycles has been consistently rewarding: It makes me feel alive.
CarpeMoto.com is my motorcycle diary and running inquiry into why we ride.