The Sounds of Almost Silence

           Some years back, when I was offered a regular column with a start-up motorcycle mag, I made a promise to myself that I would never flog the dead horse topic of Why I Ride. I have no real problem with this topic, but how many times have you read a story dedicated to this subject? I agree with the person who said, “If I have to explain it, you wouldn’t understand.” Lately several non-motorcycle people have asked me “Why do you ride?’  I apologize to everyone who feels the same way I do about this topic. For those who may be wondering why I ride please read on.
 

I have heard all the reasons. I have experienced many of the things that people say is the reason they ride. There have been the starry, summer nights when the road went on forever and the bike was running like a Swiss watch. The red glowing sunsets that you are certain were painted by the very hand of God. The twisty road that goes on and on and you drag your pegs on every corner. I have even had the proverbial “one with the bike feeling.” on countless occasions.
 

But the actual reason I ride? I’ll tell you; the reason I ride is so I can wear my helmet. Surprised? After I thought about it, it became obvious; I ride so I can wear my helmet. Before you start thinking that I must be a few sandwiches short of a picnic or that maybe I rode the short bus to school, let me explain my reasoning.

 One particular Saturday afternoon I was sitting in the living room thinking about the things a man thinks about on a Saturday afternoon when he sits in his living room thinking about the things a man thinks about. My youngest daughter came in to introduce me to her new boyfriend. Did I mention the new boyfriend has a Mohawk hairdo approximately 12 feet from the tip of the spikes to his shiny bald head? What hair he does have is a lovely shade of green and he has enough piercings and safety pins in his face to grate a block of parmesan cheese.

“Dad this is my boyfriend Festering Boyle, we’re going to a Rancid concert to do some moshing.”
 “That’s nice honey, could you pass me my helmet please?” I said with a sigh.
  “Uhh, Dad, it’s winter, you can’t ride anywhere.’ She said as Festering snickered under his breath and mumbled something about “dude” and “sticking it to the man”
 “Oh yeah,” I said, “Guess I’ll go take your mother’s vacuum cleaner for a spin, if I can find the kick start.”
 

I usually try to avoid Rancid things, and moshing, well it sounds like a strange ritual you do when dancing around a fire while wearing sheepskin chaps. I think Festering Boyle is still a gentleman to my daughter; otherwise a traction test on his fingers might be in order.
 

My eldest daughter also seems to have a knack for making me put on my helmet. Let us observe. 

“Dad I need $150.00 for a new pair of shoes for the prom.” Did I mention this kid has enough shoes to make Imelda Marcos jealous? She has an entire closet full of new shoes for the prom!
 “That’s nice honey, here, take my wallet, could you pass me my helmet please?’
 “Uhh dad, it’s winter.”
 “Oh, okay, I’ll go try the spin cycle on the washing machine.”
 

I’ve learned to watch my wife’s mood swings and body language and I am pretty good at getting the jump on her, by the time she gets to me, my helmet is securely on my melon and a virtual “cone of silence” surrounds me. I am immune to any thing she can say. When she talks to me all I hear is Charlie Brown’s mother talking to me. “Wonk wonk wonk.”

I just smile and nod “That’s nice dear, can’t you see I’m wearing my helmet?”
 “Wonk wonk, winter wonk!” she said.
 “Yes dear, I’m going to see if I can drag the pegs on the snow blower.”
 

When I have my helmet on and I’m riding my motorcycle, all I hear is the drone of the engine, the wind whistling by and I am alone in my thoughts. I am able to think about the road ahead, the destination, the other people I ride with, or any other thought that comes to mind. Riding is a great way to clear the cobwebs out of your head. Best of all when my family decides to drop one of those little tidbits of conversation that makes me want to jam an ice pick into my ear I am safe. There is no way I could get an ice pick through the side of my helmet. Now if I could just figure out how to fix all the ice pick chips on the side of my helmet.
 

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~ by cdnrider on April 1, 2007.

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