On Autumn Days and Motorcycles

Motorcycles exist for autumn days like this one. The crispness of the air touched me even as I zipped on my riding suit. The morning sky was a perfect cloudless blue, expressing the kind of clarity that makes the sky seem higher somehow. I have never experienced anything that connects you to the day the way a motorcycle does.

Whatever a day is, the motorcycle will lay bare the soul of it. Hot days are brutally hot, the wind like the hot breath of the Devil himself. Cold days will cut through any number of layers and technical fabrics and bite your bones. The blessed days of Fall become even more pleasent, comfortable and refreshing.

The comfortable confines of a car robs days like these of thier power.

You may appriciate the quality of any given day as you get in and out the climate controlled box we call a car, but you are isolated from its power. There are no pillars and columns obstructing the view atop a two-wheeled conveyance. You get the same view available on foot, but at speed. The smells that are usually muted through air filters, ducts and fans are experienced with full intensity on a motorbike. We smell the earthen decay of hay before we see the horse farm. The scent of flowers wafts into our helmet before we lay eyes on the meadow. Every motorcyclist is aware of every animal who's life ended at or near the road. And then there is the wind.

I ride in a full suit, and even with that layer the pressure and flow of the wind is the defining feature of every ride. I can understand why people ride in t-shirts and shorts--the feeling of the wind at low speeds is intoxicatingly pleasent. At higher speeds, the wind has a raw power usually avaialble only to someone standing in a hurricane. The visceral intenstity of winds at higher speeds encourages adrenaline to flow, and every motorcyclist understands why so many of us perish chasing speed. There is no sensation in the human expereince more powerful than a motorcyle accelerating quickly, running hard on a straightaway, or leaned over in a tight curve. I ride responsibly, but I feel a kinship with those who can't resist the siren call of a motorcycle's throttle.

I have to confess I have moments where I see a straight bit of empty road and cannot resist the thrill myself. My bike never sounds happier than when it's throttle is twisted all the way open.

The concentration required to keep a motorcycle on the road and out from under the lumbering, four-wheeled beasts that always threaten us is freeing. The motorcyclist is not thinking about the office, text messages or Facebook. He achieves a state of Zen enlightenment found by those who mediate, runners, sky divers and others who push their brains beyond or below consciousness. At its greatest, riding completely removes the awareness of self. The most present moments of my life have been following the line of a curve.

It is autumn days like these where the true nature of Tallahassee cuts through. Our Canopy Roads, which fully earn the capitalization of a proper noun, become the very best versions of themselves. Our early autumn is lush and green, and the shade on these paved paths through the forest preserves the morning crispness well into the afternoon. All those sights, sounds, smells, and wind coalese into an asphalt paradise that invites exploration.

I fully believe you have not seen Tallahassee until you've ridden a motorcycle on a Canopy Road.

I wrote this post just for writing's sake. It was fun, and I realize it sounds like a 10th grade essay. :)

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