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.