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My brother sent this to me, I'm not sure where he found it. I thought it was pretty cool, and thought you might enjoy it.


The Season of the Bike by Dave Karlotski

There is cold, and there is cold on a motorcycle. Cold on a motorcycle is
like being beaten with cold hammers while being kicked with cold boots, a
bone bruising cold. The wind's big hands squeeze the heat out of my body and
whisk it away; caught in a cold October rain, the drops don't even feel like
water. They feel like shards of bone fallen from the skies of Hell to pock
my face. I expect to arrive with my cheeks and forehead streaked with blood,
but that's just an illusion, just the misery of nerves not designed for
highway speeds.
Despite this, it's hard to give up my motorcycle in the fall and I rush to
get it on the road again in the spring; lapses of sanity like this are
common among motorcyclists. When you let a motorcycle into your life you're
changed forever. The letters "MC" are stamped on your driver's license right
next to your sex and height as if "motorcycle" was just another of your
physical characteristics, or maybe a mental condition.

But when warm weather finally does come around all those cold snaps and
rainstorms are paid in full because a motorcycle summer is worth any price.
A motorcycle is not just a two-wheeled car; the difference between driving a
car and climbing onto a motorcycle is the difference between watching TV and
actually living your life. We spend all our time sealed in boxes and cars
are just the rolling boxes that shuffle us languidly from home-box to
work-box to store-box and back, the whole time entombed in stale air,
temperature regulated, sound insulated, and smelling of carpets.

On a motorcycle I know I'm alive. When I ride, even the familiar seems
strange and glorious. The air has weight and substance as I push through it
and its touch is as intimate as water to a swimmer. I feel the cool wells of
air that pool under trees and the warm spokes of sunlight that fall through
them. I can see everything in a sweeping 360 degrees, up, down and around,
wider than PanaVision and higher than IMAX and unrestricted by ceiling or
dashboard.

Sometimes I even hear music. It's like hearing phantom telephones in the
shower or false doorbells when vacuuming; the pattern-loving brain, seeking
signals in the noise, raises acoustic ghosts out of the wind's roar. But on
a motorcycle I hear whole songs: rock 'n roll, dark orchestras, women's
voices, all hidden in the air and released by speed.

At 30 miles an hour and up, smells become uncannily vivid. All the
individual tree-smells and flower-smells and grass-smells flit by like
chemical notes in a great plant symphony. Sometimes the smells evoke
memories so strongly that it's as though the past hangs invisible in the air
around me, wanting only the most casual of rumbling time machines to unlock
it.

A ride on a summer afternoon can border on the rapturous. The sheer volume
and variety of stimuli is like a bath for my nervous system, an electrical
massage for my brain, a systems check for my soul. It tears smiles out of
me: a minute ago I was dour, depressed, apathetic, numb, but now, on two
wheels, big, ragged, windy smiles flap against the side of my face,
billowing out of me like air from a decompressing plane. Transportation is
only a secondary function. A motorcycle is a joy machine. It's a machine of
wonders, a metal bird, a motorized prosthetic. It's light and dark and shiny
and dirty and warm and cold lapping over each other; it's a conduit of
grace, it's a catalyst for bonding the gritty and the holy.

I still think of myself as a motorcycle amateur, but by now I've had a
handful of bikes over a half dozen years and slept under my share of
bridges. I wouldn't trade one second of either the good times or the misery.
Learning to ride was one of the best things I've done.

Cars lie to us and tell us we're safe, powerful, and in control. The
air-conditioning fans murmur empty assurances and whisper, "Sleep, sleep."
Motorcycles tell us a more useful truth: we are small and exposed, and
probably moving too fast for our own good, but that's no reason not to enjoy
every minute of the ride.
 
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