Saturday, March 16, 2013

Caveat-Ruffy Road and a good soaking

It had been so hot last week, and in my bare brick 19th century house the air has hung thick and sticky.  Most nights I could not sleep until 5 or 6 in the morning.  So when the overcast sky and the rain came today I was not daunted, I would ride anyway and let myself soak in some cold.  And a cold soak it was!  But that was later.  Earlier, patches of blue broke up the sky and this song played in my head as I rode to Yea, then north.

Beyond Caveat I took a new dirt track: Caveat-Ruffy Road.  Only 8km long, it offered a rich and varied scene of farms, creeks and ponds.

I rode on to Longwood and Euroa.  The country up there is the scene of some of my best rides and I'm at a point now, years on, when I have a soft sentimental feeling for the feeling of riding there that I experienced in earlier years.  In a sense I've put roots down there, without ever living in the place.

It was interesting to dwell in the remembered feelings of riding that were normal at that earlier time but not now.  Riding is a very emotional activity, incorporating perspectives on the world, life and death.  I feel that my riding is not as emotionally rich these days, even though I think I am emotionally wiser and emotionally more skillful.  I have less sentimentality and sadness in me.  Perhaps that skillfulness is a kind of enlightenment which, like the Western Enlightenment of the late 18th century onwards, involves a certain disenchantment in exchange for its clarity?  Or perhaps, more banally, it is a consequence of the loss of novelty that comes with familiarity in a place?  Either way I feel the loss.  I need to find my way back there without giving myself over to pathos, and so to re-enchant the experience regardless of the cause of the loss.

From Euroa I rode up the wonderful mountain to Strathbogie and stopped for coffee.  The alpine town seemed to be hosting some small yoga festival.  So I tarried for a while under the impromptu, bright monotone flags.  Then I made down the mountain and, as I did, the rain came.

Then it stopped:

And then it came back.

With a vengeance.

Dense, thick rain, but warm at first.  It waited for later to turn cold, when my gloves and boots were full and running with water, my clothes soaked through under my plastic outer layer, and the fog so thick that I feared I would run off the road as I crawled into King Lake.

There was no change for the rest of the home-making: the rain was permanent, dense, and cold.  At one point I thought it was hailing.  Even on the freeway at the end it was hard to see the lanes.  I rode with my visor up, squinting to see ahead.  And took a secret pleasure in tearing along at 100kph while everybody else in their cars slowed to 70.  A dare devil bike boy of the 1960s.  A viking, laughing from deep within his fearless gut.  A creature of the storm, possessed by his animal spirit.

This post is dedicated to Mav. Aged 30 and with a baby due in a few weeks, he died a few days ago aboard his motorcycle.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my, what a rain storm. But it looks like you made it home safely after. Sorry to hear about a rider down. Always sad. RIP Mav.