A few weeks had passed since our road trip, and, unfortunately in the meantime I didn’t have a chance to do much riding. Consequently, when four guys on bikes loaded with gear passed me on my way out to the university that first morning home I felt an involuntary sigh escape my lips and I had to resist the urge to follow them-where ever they might have been going. Of course I couldn’t go with them, I had responsibilities and, besides, I was in a minivan.
The summer term had ended in a whirlwind of activity while the Radian patiently waited for me in the garage. I looked in on her every morning before school, just so she'd know I hadn't forgotten her. Indeed, we were looking forward to some more serious riding before the summer completely ended, but, alas, it was not to be.
We had our family vacation planned for the last week in August and so our van was once more press-ganged into service…and the Radian waited some more. We hadn't taken a family road trip in, well, maybe ever and so we had an epic trip planned down the Oregon Coast to San Francisco. And I can assure you that all the incredible things you hear about the Oregon Coast and the California Redwoods are true. It is truly amazing and while the van groaned up hills and protested around corners all I could think was "I would love to be riding this."
All of a sudden it was September and I think somebody flipped a switch because the days were unmistakably shorter and the evenings were noticeably cooler. Nevertheless, the Radian is insured until November (yes, I'm optimistic) and what could possibly be better than riding through an Okanagan autumn?
Getting the bike started would help.
The Radian was not happy with me. She was giving me the silent treatment and refused to start. I don't think it was so much the weeks of neglect, but the fact that I left town and took the minivan (the minivan!) on the Oregon Coast while she sat in the garage. I can understand that, but didn’t it matter that I was taking her out now? Apparently not. We were supposed to be meeting up with a buddy for a ride and it wasn't until I told her that we were about to get shown up by a BMW that she roared into life. I guess it was just a question of motivation. Or pride. Well, I can understand that too.
Either way, a few minutes later we were winding our way up the lakeshore. I want to say that it felt good to be riding again, because it did; but, there was a stark contrast between the confidence I had felt rolling back into town after our road trip and the cautious hesitation with which I went into my first real corner this particular evening. I felt like I had taken a few steps back and it took more than a few kilometers before the Radian warmed up to me again.
The ride beside the lake under the still-warm autumn sun was pleasant enough. On the ride home, however, the warm golden light faded over the hills and nearly full silver moon drifted into the sky. It got chilly. Those nice temperature changes on the road that are so refreshing in August are uncomfortably cool in September and I realized that I should have put another layer on. Nonetheless, it had been so long since I'd been riding that I would’ve given up clothing altogether for the chance to get on two wheels again.
I hadn't realized how much I missed riding. The road noise was loud in my helmet because I'd forgotten to put my earplugs in. But I didn’t mind. The Radian's voice cut through the roaring wind and I could hear all the nuances in her song again. In that moment I found myself remembering a poem John Keats once wrote on hearing the joy in the reckless abandon of a birdsong:
"Tis not through envy of thy happy lot, But being too happy in thine happiness ,That thou, light winged Dryad of the trees...Singest of summer in full throated ease."
Keats was talking about a nightingale; but he could have been talking about motorcycles. The Radian was happy, and so was I. Like the nightingale, if we are lucky enough to find ourselves “too happy” in our happiness, we are very fortunate indeed. Listening to her sing in the deepening autumn twilight I realized that despite the chill in the air and the changing colours of the trees, tonight the Radian had somehow brought the summer with her.
David Balfour was born in Regina, Saskatchewan and has since lived in Edmonton, Alberta, as well as British Columbia’s Cariboo and Kootenay regions before settling in the Okanagan. David has had a variety of career tangents through the years: he was a roadie for a rock band in the 1990s, he worked on a mushroom farm, completed a Bachelor of Arts degree, owned a small business and is currently completing his Education degree at the University of British Columbia.
David is new to the world of motorcycles in general and MotoVida in particular. However, a love found later in life is better than a love never found at all. He lives in Kelowna, BC with his wife, Lindsay and their four children, Emma, Annie, Aidan and Cordelia, and the Radian, his motorcycle.