I just turned forty four; that’s just a number. A day later Dusty World is going to cross the thirty thousand page view mark. That’s just a number too, but I like it a lot more than forty four.
Last year I was stuck behind a large group of cruisers and wondered out loud on the Concours Owners Group what the etiquette is for passing them. It’s hard to pass a big group because of their shear size, and breaking up their formation by having to pull back in during a pass seems rude. In addition to upsetting several bikers (a word I don’t use to describe myself), I got some good advice from motorcyclists who have been doing it for a long time. The best advice came from a fellow who said that if he comes across a mobile chicane like that he just pulls over has a smoke and ponders things. He then gets back onto an empty road in a contemplative state of mind. Why so be in such a rush?
I liked his Zen approach though it isn’t in my nature to do it. The other day on my short commute into work I was riding behind an ancient Muppet in an SUV who was barely doing 40 in a 60 zone. He wasn’t going to work, but he’d elected to hop into his mobile castle and putter down the road in front of as many people as he could. With a bike your power to weight ratio is stratospheric. It’s (very) easy to make a pass, but rather than feed the speed monster I tried pulling over. It helped that it was an absolutely stunning October morning with golden sun streaming through ground fog…
I stopped, turned off the bike, and sat on the side of the road for a few minutes soaking it up. Once you drop the gotta-pass thing the urge quickly fades away. In the stillness of that sunrise I became aware of what was pushing me. Part of me was already thinking through all the things I had to do when I got to work and anxiety to get it all done was taking root without me noticing it, hence the urge to blow off traffic. Your subconscious can be a pain in the ass that way, infecting what was otherwise a beautiful morning ride in to work with an unnecessary sense of urgency. It’s nothing that a moment of reflection can’t beat back though. How often have you reacted to stress or pressure by passing it on to something else? I transfer moods like this all the time.
I took a couple of more minutes and photographed the sunrise…
Back on the bike I continued in to work, getting there five minutes later than I otherwise would have but in a mellow state of mind. I actually caught up with the Muppet and his train of frustrated commuters in the next town over, so my five minute sojourn with the rising sun didn’t make me any later than I would have been anyway.
This Zen break was easy because nature was putting on a show, but it’s a habit I’d like to try and get into. Nurturing a calmer mindset results in deeper thoughts, and time to ruminate is one of the reasons I love riding a motorcycle so much. The time to reflect doesn’t hurt either. If I can sense when worldly pressures are infecting my mindset on the bike I’ll become a better rider.
July 2-18th I was commuting on the bike every day from Elora to Milton. The ride took me on country highways, country backroads, down the escarpment, on a 13 km blast down the 401 to James Snow Parkway, then 5 kms of urban riding in Milton.