I see them. The gentle leaves falling to the ground, blotting out the once green neighborhoods in tones of yellow, orange and red.
Our sky’s give in to the clouds. Slowly removing the blue from our sights, and replacing it with the dreary gray that has moved in, bringing with it, the pat pat pattering of rain gently striking the ground in rapid succession.
It’s autumn in the Pacific Northwest. And while the people pack up their motorcycles, along with their lawn furniture and volley ball nets, I dust off my own, and prepare for the winter ahead.
I’m not certain why, but this time of year brings something out in me. Something that drives me to want to ride. I am the opposite of the fair weather rider. I am the adverse weather rider. A sick dieing breed of individuals, who some believe are crazy, and require the help of a psychologist to study the pure insanity that courses through the veins of our bodies.
What drives us to wake up each morning, only to stare outside at the precipitation, as if calculating in our minds, each inch to be traveled in the days commute? Then grinning, as you take one last drink from your coffee, dawn your gear, and ride off into the morning traffic.
I’m not certain. Maybe it is our souls begging to feel apart of the natural environment around us. Isn’t that why we originally got our bikes to begin with? To feel apart of the environment, to feel the wind against your body, the sun radiating down all around you, encompassing your body in a warm glow. Isn’t that what we consider the freedom that we enjoy so much, and others just cannot understand?
I believe it is the same nature. Some of us feel the freedom in the sun, while others of us, feel it in whatever nature throws at us.
I am not much of a summer rider. In fact, I enjoy it only if I can go somewhere worthwhile. I don’t enjoy sitting in traffic in the summer. Oddly enough, I don’t mind the traffic in the fall and winter. I get some sick thrill of sitting in it, while the rain falls around me.
It is odd, for the 3rd fall in a row, on my R6, I have done just that. Yes, I ride in the summer, but I enjoy the commute more in the later months. I spend more time on my bike during these months, than I do throughout the rest of the year. Why is this? Why do I enjoy what seems to be against the norm?
I believe it comes from my upbringing, a trait that was instilled in me by nurture, rather than nature. Much like how I enjoy waking up early mornings before most people even show up to work in New York. I was raised on a farm, and my clock was that of my father, waking us up for work. It was the need to always be ready.
Twelve years later after leaving the farm, and my body still reacts the same. It is programmed to sleep lightly, wake early, and eat quickly.
Summer meant work on the farm. Lots of work. The bikes were used for work. Fall and Winter was down time. It means time to have fun on the bikes. Was this fun I experienced the root of this feeling, this need?
I realize even more now, that getting back to my roots is more important than ever. Much of my childhood was spent exploring the neighboring White Bluffs Nature Reserve, which was formally thousands upon thousands of acres of land in the Central Region of Eastern Washington that once formally belonged to the Atomic Energy, or what has now become known as just the Handford Reservation.
I explored these deserts from a young childhood, until I was an adult. Hours upon hours were spent in this expanse of sagebrush, cacti, and sand. Landmarks found, once forgotten, I would ride blindly in any direction, just to find the next piece of history.
Years passed and the miles passed by, and eventually I would end up with a riding partner. Another avid young adventurer who much like myself, grew up on bikes starting from a young age. Hell, I remember when he broke his leg at 8 years old from hitting a circle track wrong. He later would have this same experience later in his life, about 10 years later. We never learned from our prior mistakes, and continued to ride wherever, and however we wanted to. If any part of my childhood could be considered the best of, this is the period of time in my life that would be considered the best years of them.
Owen and I would put down the miles almost every day for several years. Enough, that my XT that I obtained in the Fall of 92, would eventually brake the fifty-thousand mile marker. A bike that was never licensed for public road use, took the beating of the Eastern Washington terrain for several years.
I believe this, is the root of what others consider my insanity. I was born and raised in this fashion, raised to adventure, and did so. Even if only limited to one region, I explored almost every square inch of what I was given in my 10 years or so of riding back there.
And I believe that is why I find excitement in the rain. It gives me back a piece of my childhood, as if my body, my brain is telling me I need to return. To get back to the basics, the beginning, where it all started.
With that, I look at myself, and my choice of ride. A 2007 Yamaha R6. A great fun bike, one that I do not regret purchasing, but it really was to scratch an itch. I’ve owned mainly dirt bikes and dual sports over the years, and a cruiser. But now it was time for a sport bike, and with that thought, I bought it.
It opened my world up to the track, to the race, to the adrenaline of bombing down the front straight at over 150mph. To put my skills once again, against others. It created friendships with some of the greatest people I’ve met. So I cannot say I regret what that R6 brought me. But it is time to move on, to find a better suited bike for my day to day travels, for my day to day adventures. It just does not work for what I enjoy doing, and it took all these years to realize just exactly what it was, that I was missing.
So what will my next bike be? Well, there is the old XT, which I have been restoring, and modifying over the last year. It is the heart of my childhood, so it is time to make it apart of my adulthood. Then there is what is next? Maybe a KLR? DR? GS?
I am not 100% certain at this moment what my choice will be to carry me on my adventures and for once I don’t care. I am more excited to see where the breeze eventually takes me.