Posts Tagged ‘country roads’

What a difference three days can make. (Parse that for a second, eh?) On Tuesday, Holly and I took a short run down to Bergen. The weather was sub-45 and windy, pardon my French, but il fait froid.

Tonight was in the high 60s and the last day of a sale at Stan’s. Having discovered a hole in the seat of my riding jeans, it was time for

Map picture

a run on the Fatboy. What a beautiful ride in the late afternoon sun! I love this time of the spring, when the leaves are still forming.

The hues fascinate me. In summer, the leaves are all the same shade of green, and the grasses turning from deep green to brown. Now the leaves range from lemon yellow to yellow green to deep green. The sunlight hits the tree-tops and the colors seem to dance like an impressionist landscape.

The green fields are variegated with blazing yellows—mustard, dandelion—and the light umber of broken sod, like strokes of a palette knife across the canvas.

You can see it from a steel cage, but on a bike you sense it. The air is fresh and alive with smells of new growth, manure, fresh sod, and blossoms. The air passing over the skin is moist but warm, not hot and sticky like summer and not clammy and raw like late autumn. The solstice is still six weeks away, so the air is not as turbulent as it gets when the sun bakes the asphalt and the tar snakes ooze forth. One glides through the air, like through the water in a swimming pool. In another month or so, it will hit like waves and tides on the beach, pulling this way, pushing that.

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Today as I was cruising home from the CMA Pig Roast at Stan’s, I was thinking that I have lived in this area for nearly 22 years. Over that time, I’ve gotten habituated to taking certain roads to get from hither to yon.

So many roads I’ve passed by. Maybe that comes from driving a steel cage to work for too many years. I don’t get in a car just to drive, but with a goal of getting from A to B, thinking of what I have to do, where I have to be next.

I came upon a road I had driven past several times before, and decided to see where it led. Forget the Google Maps and GPS (I used  to get around just fine without them).

You might think this is a Robert Frost style metaphor A view from the top of the "Million Dollar Highway," San Juan Mountains, Coloradofor some deeper meaning about life. Some roads lead to wonderful discoveries. All I encountered this day was the smell of manure and a few people mowing lawns. At the end of the road, I found I had backtracked, ending up on the same path I always drive to get hither from yon.

Nevertheless, I found it a welcome reminder that taking a break from routine can be like  a breath of fresh air. For a few miles,  I drove for the sake of driving, and I enjoyed the ride.

I have driven everything from dirt and gravel to six lane interstates,  Southeastern Utahbut my favorite ride will always be the two lane country highway, with a yellow stripe down the middle and a white stripe down the side.

They say the safest road is the interstate, because the travel is all going in the same direction and there are limited entrances for traffic. Yeah, safe like NASCAR—they all drive the same direction too. When every other steel-cager drives like he had a restrictor plate, and a turn signal is viewed as a sign of weakness, safe is not  a word that comes to mind.

Gravel roads are just no fun. Slow to a crawl, worry about stones dinging the chrome, and try not to let the front end hit a hole or a pile of loose soil. In fact I just found out I have a small stone embedded in my belt and it’s going to have to be replaced.

The single lane country road can be nice, but very slow going. Okay for a leisurely afternoon cruise, but one always has to watch for potholes, frost heaves, broken shoulders (when there is one), blind turns and blocked driveways.

Arches National ParkThe two lane highway is my favorite. I love watching the lines seem to weave back and forth as I shoot the curves. Making good time on most  stretches, from 55 to 65 mph, makes up for the slower parts. I think what I love most is working through the gears. For the same reason I always preferred road racing to NASCAR. Oval tracks are all about suspension geometry and tuning. Road courses are more about timing of the shift, out-braking the other driver, trying to get the inside line without losing too much speed. Read the turn, light touch on the brake, shift down at just the right moment  and lean into it, roll the throttle as I pass the apex and kick it up a gear as the V-Twin rumbles; there’s no more exciting feeling on a bike.