Every biker has a different opinion about “the best” ride. Some like to take long journeys by themselves; go where they wish, stay as long or as little as they like at pit-stops and final destinations. Some like to travel with friends, so what to them makes a great ride is the joy of sharing it with others. Some like to seek out new sights, while others like to discover roads seldom traveled in their back yard. Some like to challenge their riding skill by “running through twisties” while others prefer more gentle hills and curves on their route.
For me, my “best” rides are those that allow me to relax and enjoy the scenery. Knowing that I won’t be exhausted from being pushed to ride too many miles in one day. The roadways will have plentiful turns, but not switch-back bar-gripping terrors. Sweeping vistas, which can be as simple as seeing a farm, corn growing, cows grazing, horses playing, and not a car (or bicyclist) in sight. Just the solid feel of my bike moving me along. Not too fast, not too slow, not in traffic, and not on a gravel-strewn cattle path.
My best rides are quiet. That is, all I can hear is the wind along my helmet and the rumble of my Harley’s engine. I do not play music via an MP3 player or radio. I want to hear the road. Sure, I have tools such as a GPS and a CB radio, but those are simply tools that aid in navigation for this very navigationally-challenged biker. (And I often turn the GPS off, as I dislike hearing the GPS lady constantly yelling, “recalculating!”)
My best rides in the past have been with my partner seated behind me on the passenger’s seat. We could point out interesting things to each other and have lots to talk about at the next stop, and for days, weeks, and years to come. Feeling his legs next to mine, knowing he was there. I cannot describe the comfort one feels in knowing that the man who always “has your back” is … well, at your back. I so miss having him with me when I ride. Alas, his disability prevents it. I still have an ache in my heart when I ride. Even though he has not been able to ride with me for seven years, that ache never goes away.
Because I have a bit of a health issue myself, I cannot ride for more than about 100 miles without having to take a significant break — like an hour, minimum. Most other riders I know want to press on, make more miles, keep going, and stop only to pee and refuel. My bike can go about 250 miles on a tank, but my body can’t! Thus, of the choices of rides that I go on, I select (or plan and lead) much shorter rides.
Last Sunday, I joined a ride that rode only 40 miles. No interstate highways were involved. Ten of us enjoyed nice views of small towns, farms, cattle, and crops. Not much other traffic, either. It’s nice to look in my mirror and see a string of headlights behind me, knowing that my fellow riders were having fun, as I was. We share the joy of the ride. For me, these days, these are my “best” rides. Not too long, not hairpin-crazy turns, not too fast… ahhhh… just right.
I also recognize that often I am the only gay guy in the group. Does that matter? Thankfully, not with the people with whom I ride regularly. They bring their wives, and sometimes their children on rides. Women riders compose a significant number of my fellow riders, too. What bonds us, regardless of sexual orientation, politics, or differing religious views is … you guessed it … “the ride.” That’s it, pure and simple. We like to ride and enjoy riding with other skilled riders. Not hot-dogs or big-mouths. They always wear a helmet, long pants, and motorcycle boots (not silly shorts with sneakers, flip-flops, or boat shoes). Just ordinary pleasant people out for a day of fun and safe riding.
I am so blessed that my home state of Maryland has much to offer in terms of great riding roads. Granted, I have ridden on most all of the great motorcycle roads in the area, but that doesn’t mean that I enjoy riding them again any less. It’s all about the ride. Nice, gentle, easy. Filled with miles of smiles.Life is short: adapt and enjoy; ride and have fun.