By Larry Feinstein
Pack your bags; we’re going for a ride. You have to meet me in San Francisco on the afternoon of Sept. 8 because that is when we pick up our Indian Chieftain, a legendary bike, beautifully brought back to life a few years ago. In all my years of riding, I have never taken a passenger, so this ride is a first for both of us.
How can you go along for a ride without being on the Indian with me? I am going to imagine your invisible presence, sitting close behind me. You will not be paying any attention to the ride. Each day, I am going to tell you what you missed. Spending so much time together in close quarters could result in you wanting to share, and I am encouraging it. We’re going to roll on two-lane roads, meandering through Northern California, up into Southern Oregon and down the coastline of both states.
I am going to take pictures, write short posts on my blog and record daily podcasts to capture the immediacy of the experience
Heading east on the big highways out of San Francisco will take me to my first stop, Groveland, the street address for the opening to Yosemite. Sitting here, I can conjure the sensations from just yesterday on my own roads. When the sun is above the line of sight, with the trades blowing gently from the east, under a blue sky with shaggy, puffed clouds, surrounded by ocean and held together by an interior of lollypop green mountains, I melt into my bike. At some marker on the first day’s ride, this fleeting moment of familiar, biker bliss will slip in as Yosemite rolls into view.
The moment I thought about the ride, the urge to record it instantly attached itself. Writing is difficult for me. I am most comfortable when I have a person or purpose drawing me out. I spent a year and a half writing my life story to my young grandson, a gift he will receive when his parents think he’s old enough, probably 30 years old!
The past few years have felt a little like word MMA, always ending in a draw. Giving myself permission to commit to this ride nearly a year ago pulled me quickly back into the world of shared words. I am now obligated to meet up with the Indian and tell crisscrossing stories, one in my mind and one from the road.
I am going way outside my comfort zone. A seasoned biker would likely think I am crazy. My primary experience is a dozen years riding on the stress free, familiar roads of Kaua‘i, on easy to handle Hondas. On our trip, we will be on a much bigger bike, riding on roads that will vary each day, with no idea what is around the other side of every blind curve. There are daily destinations, never staying in one place for more than a night.
I am not sure I’d be enjoying my life as much without taking chances, although sometimes I want to pull the covers over my head and disappear from the see-everything mirror. I don’t know how many times I have forced myself to overcome horrific trepidation, only to find that getting out of bed and folding into the day was not the monster I feared. Riding a motorcycle can be like that. You always have near misses or riding miscalculations that burn your throat and explode your heart, but cruising the coastline of Kaua‘i washes it gently away and you smile, leaving the anxiety ghost over your shoulder, behind you on the disappearing road.
Whenever you feel like it, get on the back and introduce yourself because I can’t turn around while I am riding.
- Larry Feinstein has spent a lifetime wondering what we’re all about. Visit mindandthemotorcycle.com email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive updates on plans for the ride.