Wednesday, August 27

Oh, Happy Sunday

I hemmed and hawed so much last Sunday before finally getting out of the door to ride that I exhausted myself. A ton of overdue work has been dragging me down and in response, I have been stubbornly, silently rebelling and wasting far too much time daydreaming about the next ride. I’ve accepted that riding for me is not only a focusing outlet, it is also an excellent excuse for avoidance behavior of all sorts! On Sunday, I was done with denying myself! Sitting glued to the computer, resisting the halloo of the road requires super human strength that I lack. The day was magnificent! Clear and perfect for riding. In my humble opinion, to resist such ideal conditions, puts one at serious risk of an aneurysm! So, to protect my health, I geared up and prepared to leave. Destination, unplanned. By the time I stepped in my boots, I decided on a compromise. Take a quick ride, keep it to 200 miles max and return, hopefully recharged and renewed and ready to work. I decided on Woodstock and the nearby Rockford, IL area. Woodstock is a familiar ride. It’s an old town with an interesting history of its own. It probably, however, is known more for its Hollywood connection. It is also the site on which the movie, “Ground Hog Day” was filmed and the town, judging from the plaques marking certain locations, is clearly proud of that fame. In the center of downtown is Woodstock Square, an attractive space with two gazebos, a beautiful lawn, and ample benches for taking it all in. The morning started off cool, around 67 degrees F and gradually warmed to the low 80s—just gorgeous—with prodigious puffy clouds dotting a robin’s egg blue sky. I arrived feeling exhilarated. I parked on the old brick street with the bike pointing slightly down (later I had to struggle to back the bike out, which required me to dog paddle backward and uphill—ugh!)
I walked along the periphery of the square and snapped a few pictures. I was tempted to stop for lunch but decided to take a Starbuck’s break—they make a mean strawberry cream frozen thingy. While sitting there and flipping through a couple of the books I bought at Read Between the Lynes (that’s not a typo) bookstore, a woman approached me. She introduced herself and looking at my helmet asked me if the bike outside belonged to me. A candy-apple red cruiser sat in front of the store window. I said “No” and pointed in the direction of my bike. She told me that her sister rode a HD, had locks (hair) like mine, and resembled me. Her sister is also a photographer and we are around the same age. Similarities continued until it got downright eerie—like, their mother’s maiden name is Hicks—my surname. Her young teenage son was with her and confirmed that I did indeed look like his aunt. \We exchanged info and promised to “be in touch.”When I left, I saw a couple near my bike. As I got closer, the man turned and asked me if it was mine. I answered and he asked me how I liked the bike. We talked bikes for some time and he told me he rode a BMW K1200GT, which just before I was leaving, he and his wife road the bike to my spot and presented it. It’s an attractive dark blue with impressive features. Actually, the bike resembles my ST but it is bigger and replete with creature comforts missing on the ST. It, for example, has an automatic suspension. He demonstrated how it works—amazing! The bike doesn’t look mammoth—I mean it looks a machine even I could handle. The windshield is automatic and its height can be altered significantly. Cruise control is built into the bike and the final drive is shaft. His wife said the Beemer is comfortable and judging from their long distance trips, it must be. Oh, and the pillion has her own bun warmer control! And, I thought heated handle bar grips reigned supreme—imagine being able to ride with a heated seat! We continued easy conversation about helmets, roads, and rides. They reside in the Barrington area so they know the insider roads well. Another nice encounter where we did not part until we exchanged emails. This doesn’t come about glued to the computer, feeling guilty about work I’ve yet to complete. Outside is where life happens in the oddest places, when least expected.That’s part of the fun of riding. Even though I ride solo—or maybe even because I ride solo, I meet the nicest people (and some of the worst). I do think and have been told by others who do not ride solo, that solo riders are easier to approach. People may feel that they don’t want to interfere if you are a couple or with a group. Had I not gone out, had I sat in my small office space on Sunday, grumbling and whining and feeling sorry for myself, I would have missed out on a little living. I can expend huge amounts of time reclining with a book and surrounded by magazines. But the chance to ride is a chance to step foot outside my cocoon. I safely navigated the many tree lined roads to Woodstock and back. I came upon a car show and stopped there as well. Yes, I’m now paying for it because I’m even farther behind in my work than before. But it is a small price to pay. It was a good and necessary adventure, a chance to honor the beauty of the day, the hour, and all those small moments that can only be appreciated and felt, an honor of those times when one meets and greets good people, to not only smell the roses but to walk or ride among the fields. Even though I ride solo, I know that no “[wo]man is an island” and on any given ride I might be privileged to connect to others in affirming ways. I need huge doses of such to counter the dark side. I felt full and rejuvenated.I stuck to the mileage and returned with a ton of desire but skimpy will. I didn’t fight it. I did some reading and called it a happy day.


D. Brent Miller said...

Ahhh! Woodstock. Some of my old stomping grounds. It's been years, but do they still have the restaurant in the old city jail. Patrons used to be able to have a nice dinner sitting in a jail cell. Eery, yes, but the food was good when it was open. The building was right on the square.


Sojourner rides said...

Brent, that restaurant--should have posted a pic of it--is alive and very well! I had thought of having lunch there but it was packed both inside and outside. I think it's called the Court House Grill? Quite a few motorcycles out in front. Lots of after-church folks there too! Thanks!

Kano said...

Woodstock reminds me of a similar town (Silverton, OR.) near where I live. The atmosphere is straight out of a simpler and more friendly time. I agree with the solo riding concept. I prefer the solo ride for the very same reasons you suggested. Great post!

Sojourner rides said...

Hi Kano,

Thanks for dropping by! I'll have to do some research on Silverton, OR as I know nothing about it. I bet there are hundreds of places like Woodstock where it looks--and feels--like time has stood still and the pace of living is gentler...

Earl Thomas said...

I have had, on occasion, the opportunity to ride with others. I’ve ridden in the company of close friends and complete strangers as well; while they were usually positive experiences, they are not my cup of tea.

I have never been comfortable in social situations; riding with others is one example of this. I prefer the solo ride, the curative qualities of spending some time alone with my bike on the quiet blue roads of the Pacific Northwest exceeds any sedative or therapist remedy to ease my restless spirit; those times when I am also glued to the computer.

At the same time however, just as you stated, the bike seems to naturally draw complete strangers to me. People who would never approach me otherwise; my reserved character and perhaps my withdrawn body language would never allow others to approach me liberally. The bike demands the attention of others, and for that I am thankful.

They say that first impressions are the most important, and I fear that I often make a horrible one. My bikes have always managed to subdue that impression long enough for the occasional passer by to get to know a little bit about the quiet guy who rides the bike, and equally important, for the quiet guy to learn a little about a complete stranger as well.

Our bikes are special in that regard, aren’t they?

Ride Well


Sojourner rides said...

Hey, E.T., I think we drink from the same cup. It never ceases to amaze me that underneath all our differences, people are pretty much the same. People tend to think of me as rather sociable but my favorite times are when I'm alone, reading, riding, snapping a few pictures, writing...People are surprised when I tell them that I see myself as shy--they double over in laughter! But social settings...I tend to avoid unless it is with a small select number of pals I've known since grammar school. We are what we are. No excuses, no apologies. Onward and upward! Be safe!