I went to a regular Tuesday dinner with old motorcycle friends tonight, with Dave's encouragement. Two couples we know who travel indefinitely -- one by bus, one by boat -- were visiting, so it seemed like an especially good opportunity to dip a toe back into my old life.
It was so interesting being there, falling right back into my former -- real? -- self. So familiar, yet many aspects seem new: sitting through a whole meal, finishing a whole sentence, listening to a whole story. When I used to attend these dinners regularly, I was strong and self-confident; my career was flourishing, my need for adventure challenged with frequent motorcycle trips. For the most part during those years I was seeing another motorcyclist, and that hasn't changed either (except that we're married and have three children, details details).
A topic that often arises is if I'll ever ride again. I don't dare really ask myself that. Practicality, my ally and nemesis, and what got me started motorcycling in the first place, says no. I started riding because of free parking anywhere on the UCLA campus -- and my first bike got 70mpg! -- but I got hooked in it for travel. Motorcycling is a high-overhead activity, not just in the gear, bike, space, time and money, but for me there's the added physical and fear challenges. I was able to cope with those hurdles with experience, constant practice and intense desire, but I'm not sure those are as strong now.
I was never a thrill-seeker speed-junkie weekend-afternoon fair-weather squid -- even adrenaline scares me. The things that attracted me to an apparently dangerous activity weren't about the danger, and are still in me: the need to accomplish small goals, the desire to be moving in the outdoors, the mental catharsis from a repetitive activity, the endurance challenge, the paradox of wanting solitude and company. Trail running satisfies much of that too, though ironically 1 year of running injured me far more than 10 years of motorcycling ever did. Still, the stakes with motorcycling are much higher now. It's not just my life I'm risking anymore, it's four other people's too.
Will I ride again? It's about as likely as was my starting to ride in the first place, or having three children. Both were unlikely to the point of improbable. But they happened.