"I said that a warrior selects the items that make his world. He selects deliberately, for every item he chooses is a shield that protects him from the onslaughts of the forces he is striving to use. For that purpose you must have a selected number of things that give you great peace and pleasure, things you can deliberately use to take your thoughts from your fright... The things a warrior selects to make his shields are the items of a path with heart." Don Juan Matus

"Thirty spokes share the wheel's hub;

It is the center hole that makes it useful.

Shape clay into a vessel;

It is the space within that makes it useful.

Cut doors and windows for a room;

It is the holes which make it useful.

Therefore profit comes from what is there;

Usefulness from what is not there." - Tao Te Ching

The Motorcycle and waking dreams

I don't feel that I am capable of giving a good reason for the motorcycle to exist at all if not for simply pleasure. Sure there are many exceptions like urban transport and military/police/racing stuff that I don't have to deal with so my views are skewed. Add that to the fact that except for a few years in my 20's I didn't really start motorcycling until 2010.

 It seems like there were a gazillion other geezers getting midlife crisis and trying to make up for decades of "sometime in the next ten years" by getting a motorcycle.  So I spent money we didn't have to get a Honda XR650L,

 rode it from Nikiski, Alaska where I lived to Canada and broke three ribs and a bone in my foot on the Nahanni Range road in the Yukon.

I spent a couple of months pouting and healing and got a Honda CX500 to keep me from whining.

Next was a 2011 Vstrom 650 which I rode a lot and was about to rationalize a KTM when I had a stroke while riding through Orofino, Idaho.

I couldn't walk so I HAD to ride. I couldn't balance very well so I got a Ural sidecar outfit.

I put ten thousand miles on the Ural and feeling all retired and flaunting my dough I had an enduro style sidecar mounted on a 2017 Africa Twin.  This is the cold dead fingers bike.  For where I want to go, what I want to carry, and how I want to execute the plan, this is it.

For now.

DSC_0460

So after the pain, expense, spiritual debts and sometime misery, why can't I stay away from motorcycles.


Fun?  Whatever that is.   The most enduring memories are not of thrills but the moments when everything was just right.


Obsession? Yes.  I actually have a total account of money spent.  And no one will ever know.  Ever.


Why? Dunno. 


Maybe it's something primal, like riding and facing something  head-on rather than being encased in an armored shelter.  The noble warrior doing solo combat for his clan. 


Or maybe competitive stuff.  Any two human beings who operate mechanical conveyances in proximity to each other, anywhere on this planet, will establish very quickly which machine is faster.  In high school in Utah the biggest sport was ski racing.  I wasn't all that good but I did take tenth overall in the junior regionals in downhill.  No trophy but tenth out of eighty.  And got a taste of speed and competition. And a taste of what being in "The Zone" was.


I think that racers get into the zone more often than the rest of us.  By the "Zone" I mean that when whatever you are doing has completely taken over your awareness to the point where you don't have to think.  If you have to  make words to say "I have to take this gate a bit high to set myself up for the next three" then it's too late.  Conversion into words can destroy body / mind coordination.  You either take the right line or you don't.  No time to think about it.  I guess that's what they keep trying to say in the Zen books I never could understand.  I got clobbered a lot in Karate lessons.


I had a very short ski racing career, but I did experience the total immersion a few times.  And actually more so as a machinist.  Anyone who has worked in the oil patch knows what the term "pressure" means.  It has more in common with an understaffed control tower at LAX or a brain surgeon that has to sneeze.  Middle management in the oil patch applies it liberally.  So imagine (pre-CNC) a lathe with a 36" diameter 4 jaw chuck on either side of the headstock.  Through which a forty foot long piece of chrome moly drill stem hollow, with about 1" wall thickness and a big upset on each end about 6-1/2" in diameter.  Now spin it at 100 rpm and cut a 4 threads per inch on a steep taper, that pulls out at .015" from a square shoulder.  Smoke, chips, and an asshole staring at you.  But strangely I learned to relax and just do it.  Twelve hours a day, seven days a week for something like three months and I survived.  And ... that paid off the machine I was running so they laid me off.  ... 


I digress.


The point is you can get your shit together no matter what you are doing and for me, that particular doing, is riding my motorcycle.  But I have been nursing machines all my life.  And all of them require a certain finesse to operate so you might be really good and get into a zone operating them.  But their biggest problem compared to the motorcycle is that all the other machines I have operated were actually useful.  The motorcycle is not burdened with that problem.  The two wheeled variety can't even stand up on its own.   The three wheeled ones are barely stable when moving.  No matter where you are or what kind of road you are on there is usually some other vehicle that is better for what you are doing.


An obsession for operating a machine that moves and does little else.  Is this a dance, or some primitive rite?  Is it different from the rest of living reality? Perhaps that is the point.  It is not reality that we are dealing with here, but a dream.  Not a rational dream but one I can fit myself into.


And then we have the motorcycle, in all its raging technological glory.  And only a dream can make it useful.

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