Yesterday’s Harley adventure


Took the Harley into dealer for routine maintainance in small town over 60 miles away. Servicing took somewhat longer than expected (of course). As I waited, I realized a significant storm was approaching. When finally got bike back, promptly took off but realized that although there was blue sky above, I was heading right into the storm rather than away from it and it looked like the worst of it was right where I would climb over mountain. Got lucky as road curved away from storm. Although road going up and down mountain was very wet with rivulets of water streaming across, somehow I avoided the rain.
Stopped in Christiansburg (still over 20 miles from home) to meet wife for dinner. Again blue sky was above but while we were eating, the storm gathered. As we left resturaunt, I was a few minutes behind wife on highway 460 and could see raging storm ahead right where I would cross two mountain ranges to get home. It was my first experience on a bike in really heavy rain. Cars put on emergency flashers and many pulled over to wait out the storm. I was soaked in seconds. No overpasses to stop under so I continued over the mountain ranges on to convenience store still about 4 miles from home. Lightening and thunder were all around me and very close. Unnerving to put it mildly.
Finally stopped under shelter for gas pumps at the convenience store to put on rain gear and to consider my next move when lightening flashed right on top of me. Decided being by gas pumps during lightening storm was less than wise but storm was too heavy to continue ride.
More luck (I thought) when rain slowed to drizzle so decided to make a dash for home while I had the chance. Big mistake! Downpour resumed with lightening and thunder all around. Visibility poor. Cars started pulling over again but a near accident occurred right in front of me as one almost slid into another as he was pulling onto gravel shoulder. Realized that it would be rather inconvenient if I stopped behind the last vehicle and another slid into me so decided it was best to continue on another half mile where I could get off 460 onto road that winds up our mountain.
Huge lightening strike immediately behind me made hair on arms stand up as I made the turn onto our mountain. Rain then slowed somewhat and no more lightening strikes nearby so I was able to make the two miles up the mountain without serious difficulty but when I turned onto the gravel road that leads down to our driveway saw that three fast moving rivulets were roaring down the road forcing me to ride in center where the gravel is thickest, the very area I usually avoid. Made it to gravel driveway only to realize that the storm had basically turned it into a creek. Fortunately wife had left garage door open so I was able to make it down the 200 yard driveway to safety without mishap, totally soaked and stressed but otherwise unharmed.
Lesson learned: No motorcycle belongs on road in such weather conditions but sometimes you are caught in situations where you just have to make your best judgments as you go and hope for the best. (Yes, if I had it to do again I would have hunkered down in the convenience store even though probably would have been there for hours).

zen motorcycling


For me there in nothing more enlightening than a long ride when all conscious thoughts are excised and I become totally focused in the moment. During such times I seem to effortlessly enter a deeply medatative state. Extraneous thoughts sometimes intrude but I look on them as strangers, messages from my true essence, one of those alien creatures who reside deep within us all but with whom we only rarely communicate if we acknowledge them at all. At times I become aware of poetry and prose , perhaps nonsensical, perhaps messages that are essential to my existence, usually quickly forgotten except for the emotion it produced.

During my resent ride to Florida the following phrase (or some reasonable approximation) presented itself:

A flower which never grew is more notable than the most fancy bouquet
For it shall never wilt and its beauty can never be forgotten or destroyed.

What does it mean? To even attempt to tell you would be pointing at the moon. You would see only my hand and perhaps the lunar orb itself..

I can only say that It is Zen. Or perhaps it is not.

Me and my Harley


Last October, after several years of contemplation,  I decided I wanted to enter the world of two wheeled (motorized) exploration. Two years earlier I had scheduled the motorcycle safety class for beginner riders but the day before I was to begin class I had a spill off a bicycle, fracturing my left humorous (not a laughing matter). After rehab and more contemplation I decided to ignore the implicit lesson/warning of the mishap and proceeded with the class.

Initially, it was my intent to obtain a Harley but a friend who has long been an enthusiast of the big bikes suggested that I start smaller since I had never ridden before. After considering it at some length, including the fact that I reside in a mountainous area of southwest Virginia and with a fair measure of trepidation of our long uphill gravel driveway and the gravel road that I would need to traverse  with each ride, I purchased a used Honda Rebel, a small bike of the same type used in the safety class. It was a wise move.

By last month I had put over 2000 miles on the little bike,exploring the mountain roads throughout this region and becoming an almost instant advocate of Zen motorcycling while gaining some measure of confidence with only a single fall on the gravel driveway. I decided it was time to graduate up

Last month I purchased my BBH (Big Bad Harley). I wound up with a bike that has a number of frills that might be considered anathema to the concept of Zen riding (I realized the value of a GPS while lost in West Virginia on the small bike) but can always turn the gadgets off.

I have discovered that riding directly benefits my writing. While living in the moment which is the essence of Zen riding, creative ideas seem to materialize without intent or effort to the point that the whole direction of part two of the Mfecane trilogy and perhaps the very category of the work itself has been changed dramatically. More about that later.

Me and my Harley are seen below:

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I have been having a great time although it is taking some effort to get accustomed to the huge weight difference between the BBH and the little Honda (900 pounds versus 315 pounds). Longest single ride so far was about 380 miles to Charlottesville for lunch with my youngest son and his family on Memorial Day but trips to Virginia Beach and Florida are in the planning stages for this summer.

Next year: California here I come!