Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Grab the Opportunity

Andrew and I had a really great ride on Sunday. The weather was extremely fine, especially considering that this summer has been liberally peppered with rainy days.

However, I had only gotten in a few hours of seat time. After meeting Andrew’s parents and riding a few short miles with he and his dad I’d had to break from our trio and head back to Indianapolis to meet a friend for church and to subsequently play a gig downtown. I felt refreshed, but a little bit cheated at the same time.

Monday dawned clear and sunny. I checked the forecast: cloudy with a 20% chance of rain all day. I decided against riding to work, but by noon I was thinking that had been the wrong decision. It looked great out. What’s more, I had begun to think that the remainder of the day was not one to be spent away from the road. Andrew himself had said a week ago, “This summer it’s almost like you have to grab the opportunity when the weather is good, because it just doesn’t stay that way very long.”

It was about 2pm and the weather was indeed good. I called Andrew. “What are you doing this evening?” I asked.
“I don’t know, but I rode my motorcycle to work,” he said leadingly.
“Really?” I said, smiling. “Well, I was thinking that tonight would be a fine night to go out for a ride.”
“I have no problem with that, sir,” he replied.

I arrived at his apartment around 6:30, gassed and ready to go. Funks packed up some belongings in his new waterproof saddlebags, and we took a look at the map. I had originally wanted to take in some roads to the west, but since it was evening we both figured that riding into the sun for two hours wasn’t the coolest idea in the world. Andrew suggested south, and I said that I’d been considering that as well. After picking over some possible routes we decided to make a quick run down I-65, hopping off at SR44 and heading west from there. We’d wind down southwesterly on a combination of 135, 252, and 45, which would eventually put us in Bloomington, IN, home of Indiana University, a number of good friends, and a fine restaurant called The Trojan Horse.

I led the way south. Wind was noticeable for me on 65 as my jacket isn’t vented, and I had to keep it opened up somewhat so I could get some airflow. I was again wishing for a better summer riding jacket. I asked Andrew about it later and he said I looked like a large, misshapen, black balloon blowing down the highway. Am I cool, or what?

The highway was a snooze, but once we pulled off and headed west on 44 it was worth it. I felt like I had arrived at a singular moment in time. The sun was about an hour from setting and it cast warm goldenorange glow over everything. We’d gone from a highway full of semi trailers and cars to a quiet state road bordered with nothing but fields, farmhouses and trees. I felt like I was living a moment in some great story, like this simple act of riding through the Indiana countryside was actually part of some amazing accomplishment. It was gorgeous, and I hope that I never grow tired of a those sights. It’s those moments that I’ll remember when I’m too old to get on a bike anymore. Decades after I’m gone this fabulous machine will belong to someone else. Perhaps it will be gone from my possession before I myself am gone. To think of it that way, I can only own the machine temporarily. In a greater sense it will never really be mine. The things that are mine, however, the things that no one can separate from me, are these memories which the bike helps me make. So even though I have purchased an amazing piece of machinery, I’ve done myself a greater service by making all these new memories available.

We continued on our wanderings towards Bloomington, cutting through little towns like Mt. Pleasant, Morgantown, and Samaria. In Morgantown I nearly took out one of the locals. There was a cat trying to cross the road from left to right, and another motorcycle was coming from the opposite direction. The cat saw the other bike and ducked back. It tried again, however, when I pulled closer. It got halfway across, stopped, looked at me, took a few steps, and then when I was almost upon it the fuzzball shot across in front of me. I had to grab the brakes to keep from adding another feline soul to the firmament.

Andrew and I talked about the ride later, and I was pleased to hear that he enjoys riding through those little towns as much as I do. Seeing my surroundings this way really drives home the age-old saying, “it’s the journey, not the destination.” I’m also surprised that, even though I have to keep my eyes on the road while I’m riding, I still seem to be able to take in a lot of the countryside somehow.

The final leg of our trip to Bloomington was along SR45. On the map it had quite a few squiggles in it, so I figured it would make for an entertaining part of the trip. I was pleased with my choice later when Andrew pulled off his helmet and said, “Man, that part on 45 was awesome!” Not only did we have curves in abundance, but the scenery surrounding us was wonderful, thick with full summer greenery, trees, and the occasional expanse of flatness from a pond shimmering with the setting sun. It made up a relatively short portion of the ride, but it was very enjoyable.

Once in Bloomington, we hopped over to the Trojan Horse and ordered up some saganaki (flaming cheese with pita bread), and gyros. Funke and I were both starved, and I think he was ready to order double portions on everything. While eating, Andrew phoned our friend J.J. who works at the local paper. J.J. was on the clock that evening, but Funks and I determined that we’d buzz by the office after work and say hello. We didn’t kick back too long for dinner, as it was already getting late. When we got back out to the bikes I noticed that our amazingly excellent parking space right in front of the front door to the restaurant had gotten us a sap shower from the overhanging trees. That’ll be fun to clean up.

We buzzed over to J.J.’s work and were given a short tour of the place. While Funks had worked there for a time about five years ago, I had never been inside. We met some of the folks J.J. works with, and then we were given a quick tour of the printing press. If you like machines, well, a printing press is machinery on a grand scale! This press is a small one, but it still occupies three stories. The ink is shipped in 55 gallon drums, and the rolls of paper weigh one ton each! We were shown an example of the printing stages used to make a photo, and it was interesting to see that the majority of the color that is used is blue. For some reason I’d thought that black would be used far more, but such is not the case.

J.J. also took me to the photo “lab.” I guess you have to use that word loosely these days, because most of the photo work is being done digitally these days. There aren’t even any light tables in the room anymore! I asked double-J what kinds of cameras his photogs were using these days. He told me he’d have to check that out for me. I’m trying to get back into photography, and it’s becoming increasingly obvious to me that stepping up to digital would be a good move. Last night provided a little more information in my research.

Our gracious host had to get back to work, so we thanked him and saddled back up for the ride home. There was a quick stop at the edge of town to pick up some fuel, at which point I was slightly disappointed to see that the highest grade of gas was 92 and not 93 octane. I know it’s not much, and maybe it makes no difference in reality, but the R90S does knock under hard throttle occasionally, and I feel better feeding it the highest octane possible whenever I’m able.

We were going to head up SR37 and then cut over to SR67 for variety along the route home, but Andrew had checked the time again at our gas stop, and it was already 11pm. He suggested, and I agreed, that we really needed to get ourselves home at some semblance of a decent hour, and so our final leg of the journey was a straight-through route up SR37 to Indianapolis. The only things of real note were that the weather was cool and accommodating, and there were a few wisps of fog that added some visual interest along the way.

Arriving home at 12:30, Andrew and I talked briefly. He was going to take the Honda back to his apartment and ride to work the next day rather than storing it at my place as is his usual practice. I thanked him for riding with me, and he took off as I flipped the lights on in the garage. The radio comes on with the lights, and I thought it was all too fitting that Rush’s “Red Barcetta,” an ode to vehicular mischief, played as I stowed the machine until the next ride.


At 2:29 PM, Blogger newloghere said...

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