Since I have been riding I feel like I have been reliving some of those experiences a little bit, and not just because I seem to run out of gas. Riding was for me, in many ways, like a first date, right down to the awkward silences and sweaty palms. Sure, you kind of know how to act, but you can’t quite shake your own self-consciousness. Still, all of the uncertainty isn’t really a deterrent; quite the opposite in fact. In the new experiences and new relationships one finds oneself unwittingly and unpredictably looking at the world with eyes full of wonder.
I think motorcycles are like relationships. And my relationship with the Radian was, early on, like a first date. And, like any relationship, it’s not simply about accomplishing tasks, it’s about experiencing life together. Of course, at first it was very mechanical and superficial. There is an important phase where we were getting to know each other so that we could actually travel down the road together. As I’ve spent more time riding I find myself thinking less about the mechanical (Ok, what gear am I in?) and attending to the little things that make our relationship unique (I didn’t notice this little vibration before, has it always been there?).
Most importantly, riding is like a relationship because it puts me in a place of vulnerability. In purely physical terms, the experience is light years away from driving my van. There, I hardly notice the weather or the road conditions and the knowledge that I am surrounded by strong steel frame and some airbags gives me a sense of security. On the Radian I am completely vulnerable to whatever life, and the road, throw at me. Road conditions, weather and other drivers become of paramount importance when there is nothing between me and the ground but a cushion of air.
Consequently, when I am riding I am engaging the world in a way that is less insulated and more risky. And this vulnerability puts me in a place of trust. It’s a tentative trust that grows out of my relationship with the Radian. It’s difficult to quantify, but the world feels, well…different when I am riding. I am far more aware of the nuances in the road, in temperature, in humidity, in visibility, in sounds and colours. And I am much more aware of my own precariousness. Through all of this, I am learning to trust the Radian with my own instincts and experience. And it’s that place of trust that makes riding both enjoyable and exhilarating in equal measures.
In the end, I think it is in this precarious space where vulnerability meets trust that life is lived to the fullest. Relationships and experiences are the richest here. This is undoubtedly a dangerous place; one risks being hurt every moment. But, it is also the place where one discovers, almost by accident, the treasures we spend our whole lives searching for: things like hope and joy and laughter. The things one remembers when so many other things are forgotten. And however you are riding through life, these are treasures well worth finding.