Sunday, March 18, 2012

First ride of the season (FREEDOM)

Did you feel that?  Riding season has begun again.  It starts slowly, with a day of agreeable weather here and there and then WHAM!, spring is here.  Hope springs eternal at the start of a new riding season.  Like the start of a new school year when anything is possible, your weekends and time behind the handlebars feel unlimited.  After a long winter or, in our case, a mild winter, the warm weather encourages thousands to gas up and go.  Anywhere.

And that’s what riding is all about, isn’t it?  Freedom.  The freedom to choose your destination and point your bike towards it.  It almost doesn’t matter which direction you choose, as long as the roads are smooth and there’s an open lane in front of you.  What to choose?  The seacoast or the mountains?  

Living in New England provides a lot of riding opportunities and challenges.  If you ride a sport bike and want to test yourself, there are many difficult back roads with lots of switchbacks.  If you have a cruiser or a touring bike, you might enjoy a milder pace and endless vistas.  We have it all, here in New Hampshire, some of the best riding in the country.

For our first ride, I picked a familiar destination about 2 hours from home.  We know the place and the roads there take you through rolling hills and winding twisties.  With the aforementioned mild winter, the signs proclaiming Frost Heaves were lying.  The road was smooth most of the way, until a route change put us onto a road in need of repair.  No worries.  After blasting along for most of our trip, it was okay to slow the pace and to pick a line on the bumpy pavement.

We stopped for lunch, to talk and to drink coffee.  The company was better than the coffee but even bad coffee is welcome at times.  We ran into some friends, eating in the bar at the restaurant and enjoyed seeing other bikers out enjoying the day.  The parking lot was filled with many different types and brands of motorbikes, all of their owners reveling in the day.  

It’s nice to have company on a ride but, as always, someone has a deadline.  Two of us took the fast way home; the others returned from the direction we arrived.  With a highway return, we rode as fast as sense and traffic would allow.  The bikes love the cool, dry air at this time of year and we wasted no time on the road.  Our return was almost half of the time that our outbound trip took but was equally enjoyable.  There is nothing like a fast bike on a smooth road!

I shot through a tollbooth and was not at all surprised that my EZ Pass transponder hadn’t worked.  I noticed it last year on the few passes through toll areas.  A phone call should set that right, as it has worked for me in the past. Arriving home at a decent hour, I still had time to enjoy the setting afternoon sun with my spouse, grateful to her for allowing me a day to myself.

 A first ride is like a first kiss, you never know what to expect.  Today was a good one and I look forward to many more this year.  Most of the riders I know say that they will “ride more this year”.  Somehow, life, work, other obligations get in the way.

We’re fortunate to have this personal freedom and to live in a country as large as the United States.  From my door, I can look west to thousands and thousands of miles of undiscovered adventures.  All I have to do is plan one (or not). 

Get out and ride.  It’s what you need.  It’s what the world needs, more freedom.

A low, slow wave,

Joe Rocket