Tuesday, April 21, 2009

4/21/09 Tuesday dinner

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.



Louise said...

I share many of your physical and fear challenges of riding, yet never knew you had them. I always saw you as a fearless pioneer of female bad-ass bikertude. One of the reasons I really like the scooter is its low top speed. No one expects you to ride fast on a 125 step-through. I love riding through tree-lined neighborhoods at about 30 mph...fast enough for wind in my face and a bit of lean in corners, but without all that "gotta keep up with boys on their Ducatis" stuff.

But I also like knowing that I used to do that. Tens of thousands of miles on a "real" bike counts for something. BTW, I still have moments of great anxiety during our bus travels. Sean is much more likely to take risks that I'm not comfortable with.

It was GREAT to see you last night. I wish we had been sitting closer together so we could chat more.

mommieN. said...

Bad-ass, me?! Heck no. Chicken-sh*t all the way!

But top speed wasn't what scared -- or interested -- me. What scared -- and interested -- me the most was the gnarly unpaved. Nothing like 40 miles of deep wheel-grabbing gravel or a sheer rutty hill that is a sure-fire tumble if not WFO'd. Scared the cr*p out of me, but I couldn't stay away.

Nice to hear that even a bus couple can have disparate views on driving!

And next time you're here, we'll have you two and the bus to dinner!