Friday, February 25, 2011

Riding two bikes on one day

As Marlon and I hurtled down the freeway today I looked in my rear mirror to check he was behind me, and saw nothing but white clouds of smoke coming from my bike. The engine still felt strong. I pulled into the emergency lane and left the engine running to gauge the fault. A blown head? Holed piston? Everything was wet. The liquid was clear but we quickly determined it was oil. No serious problem. I hope. Excess oil had blown out the crank case breather. It should not happen again. But in the process it covered the rear part of the bike, including the rear tyre, and also the exhaust. The smoke was the oil burning on there.

I decided I would park the bike at home for the day, and check my theory of the problem later in the week. And so, the beauty of having two bikes: Five minutes later and the Honda Hornet was ready to go.

After leaving late and limping back home on the SR, Marlon and I could not do the big ride we had planned. So we chose the default piece of pleasure: King Lake to Yea, and thereabouts.

Beyond Yea we rode to Highlands then west to Seymour, through rock and bush land. We stopped.

We spent the whole afternoon riding, and into the evening. At dusk on the outskirts of Melbourne we watched planes coming in low.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Wintry Ride on a Summer's Day

Again, only a short ride today, along dirt roads where a century ago now-important artists took day trips.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Time to Ride

I only had four hours to ride today, but made the most of my time. I rode a common route, through Kinglake to Yea, then up toward Seymour and down to Strath Creek, on to Broadford, Whittlesea and Hurstbridge. I had to be back early to watch a movie at a friend’s house: the 1990 film I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle.

Making the most of my time meant riding most of the time and loving it. I stopped beyond Strath Creek for photos.

It seems that time was a theme today. Riding along the fast winding road from Yea to Seymour I thought how a ride is like life. Soon the ride will be over and I will be looking back on it, just as I might do when I've reached the Autumn of my life. In the moment, in the events, there is no structure or narrative, but looking back I will see it as a meaningful whole. Realising this fact while in motion, mid-ride, creates an opportunity to become present with the now, rather than being lost in some distraction. But then something else happens: I also feel a certain angst, a desire to grasp at the now,  so that I can hold and treasure it. Which of course I can’t do – every moment slips through my fingers. Some part of me longs to grasp and hold this current riding experience. It is as though that part assumes that this experience and the time it is in are separate, such that I can stop time from coming and taking the experience away. But of course the moment is made of time. Time is internal to what it is, it's very substance is time. And this is true of life also: we are beings in and through time. What we are is time-made, and to stop the time is to stop us. So here is a paradox: that there is something legitimate in my desire to hold this moment and stop it slipping away, just as there is regarding my life and the people that I love, and yet what is there in front of me, whether it be this ride, my life, or my friends, is timely, beings-in-time, made of time. Get rid of the time that steals them and you get rid of them.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Hidden in the Storm

As I prepared to ride yesterday the rain came down. I knew thunderstorms were forecast but didn't care - I needed to spend a day lost in 'the zone' on my motorcycle. The need was not due to some difficulty in coping with anything; rather, it was like the body's need to drink water. A healthy need of the soul.

I went up the Tullamarine Freeway out to Lancefield, then to Lake Eppalock. The road from Redesdale to the lake is constant sweepers, beautifully matched to my single cylinder motorcycle, and I overtook the one truck with ease, leaning down on the tank as the engine continued it's low rumble like a 1950s machine.

Lake Eppalock was almost empty a year ago. You could not see the water from the picnic tables. Now it is filled to capacity.

I rode into Bendigo where my Mum is staying. Fifteen minutes into the visit a great storm came: very heavy winds and lightning and thunder that were low and loud, crashing above the house. I was forced to stay for an hour before it eased enough for me to head off into the rain.

I rode toward Maldon over flooded and storm-damaged roads, and detoured to Cairn Curran, another body of water that was almost dead a year ago and which is now at capacity.

From Maldon I made to Castlemaine, again meeting only one other vehicle, which I easily overtook in the 50's racing style. Then at the Freeway entrance I turned off early into Elphington, on to the old abandoned Calder Highway. There are few things I love so much as an abandoned freeway, especially one that sweeps and rises through mountains.

Eventually the old freeway rejoined the new one, and I jumped off again just before, on to back roads outside Kyneton. Bushland and mountains gave way to civilised sheep country and pines. By now it was dusk.

It was dark by the time I hit the Freeway. The closer I got to Melbourne the more it stormed and the worse visibility became for all of us. I wondered as I rode, at why people stared at me with strange looks, or why when I overtook and moved in front of somebody, they made a point of overtaking me again. Such behaviour is not too unusual, and has different causes usually, or so I speculate, from fanscination with motorcyclists braving a storm, to contempt for difference and for being over-taken. However, as I discovered when finally at home, my rear tail-light had blown! I was completely invisible from behind in a pitch black night of blinding rainfall, and had ridden all the way home in real danger without knowing! The sad thing is that nobody made the effort to shout out a warning to me as they passed, as I certainly would have done for another, something which is particularly easy to do on a freeway.   I had, however, enjoyed the feeling of being lost in the night as I rode down that road.