Thursday, March 9, 2017

On Riding

Daytona Bike Week is starting tomorrow and runs through two weekends. I've tried to go and check it out but the crowds are appalling and I don't fit with the pirate themed posing and motorcycles-as-lifestyle-ornament standing around and preening on the waterfront. I've passed through, been deafened and been glad to move on. 
Naturally the motorcycles, mostly Harley Davidson's show up in the Keys as a spin off from Bike Week, usually the week before. It makes sense, because unless you have  a private yacht (shown below) or a plane a motorcycle is about as interesting a way as any to visit. And many of the riders fly to South Florida and rent a bike for the tour through the Keys followed by a ride up the eats coast to Daytona Beach about seven hours north.
This is one of those weeks, like Bike Week in September that I make every effort to leave the Bonneville at home and ride the Vespa. This puts me outside the field of Harleys on the highway. Triumphs don't rate the pirate world of Harley Davidson but Vespas aren't even a blip on the horizon. People who ride Harleys tend to be focussed on their brand to the exclusion of all others.
I think my preference for solitary riding rather than in groups is an extension of my personality, as I like to decide for myself how fast to ride and when to stop and where to go precisely. My time on my motorcycle even when commuting is a time to be alone with my thoughts. When I used to sail I spent hours on passages sitting on the rail watching the waves go by. It sounds boring but it was an excellent meditation. Listening to the motorcycle as I ride does the same thing on long straight empty stretches of road.
I'm not much interested in listening to music or making phone calls while riding. I like the purity of the ride itself. I am as grumpy as you might imagine when I hear distorted music playing from windshield speakers on passing motorcycles. I am also annoyed by motorcycles leading parades of slow moving cars on the Overseas Highway.  I was trained years ago to make progress on the road and I have this weird instinct to move smartly along the road at all times. I am genuinely surprised to see cruisers cruising...makes me an idiot! I use my mirrors and signals and only pass where permitted but I if you are bumbling along in car truck or motorcycle close to or below the speed limit I won't wait around for you to wake up.
And I find it odd how all our idiosyncrasies, prejudices beliefs and needs and desires burn along this narrow stretch of asphalt frequently supported by islands and columns all the way to the mainland. Scooters and all.