I want to drive it all day long.
Alas, all good things must come to an end. It was a gorgeous fall day; temperature hit 21, sun and cloud, warm breeze. The forecast was calling for single digit highs and below freezing nights for the next week. It will not be long before we will see snow activity. The riding season was coming to an end for me, and today was the perfect opportunity for that last ride before storing the bike in the cottage basement for the winter.
With each ride I have attempted to extend my learning to the real road, apply the training lessons to achieve greater comfort with riding and with my specific machine. On this occasion, I wanted to go faster, take the bike onto the highway, get ‘er into fourth gear. So, out to Highway 28 I headed.
A train of vehicles awaited me at the junction with the municipal road. I hesitated, thinking, it is busier than anticipated and maybe not the best time. And I stood by until there was a BIG gap and out on the highway I rolled. Up to third gear, 60 km/hr for this stretch until we were past the town and the speed limit increased to 80.
More throttle as the engine revved higher, popped ‘er into 4th and we had accelerated to 90 km/hr, moving with the traffic in front. Keeping up with the vehicles meant edging faster to eventually cruise at 100 km/hr … a new league record! Well, a record for me at least.
I was struck by the amount of wind. The windshield reduces much but I still felt jostled, threatening my balance, at least in my mind. I was keeping my eyes straight ahead, looking in my mirror on occasion but less than good practice would expect. I viewed oncoming traffic as an intrusion, one which I wanted to avoid, so I moved more to the middle of the lane violating another best motorcycle practice. Then it happened.
A motorcycle was approaching and as we got close together, the driver dropped the left hand to a 45 degree angle, two fingers showing, giving me the wave. Carefully taking my hand off the handle bar, I reciprocated. And with that simple gesture, I became a real biker, part of the fraternity.
On the way home to the cottage after confirming the local golf course closed for the season, there were a number of bikes on the road , providing numerous opportunities to show I belonged. I was feeling proud of myself, excited with accomplishing the next milestone. Slowly rolling around the corner for the last descent down the cottage road, the bike veered off the beaten left tire track and the front wheel gave out on the gravel. Down I went. Welcome back to earth. I propped ‘er onto two wheels again; with a scraped elbow and knee, I hopped back in the saddle to finish that final leg. All in all, a wonderful final ride, ready to put the bike away with a sense of accomplishment.
Knock me down and back up again. I love it now and will love it again. This is the road, and these are the hands that will drive me again, when the spring rolls around for another season and we pick up for more entries into the motorcycle diaries.