Pilot has been given the go for APU start. (Sticks key in ignition)
APU pre-start is complete unit is ready for activation (turns on key, notes lights came on)
Control surfaces are being put through a pre-programmed series of movements (turns handlebars and checks brakes are up)
Pilot has been advised to close and lock the visor on his launch and entry helmet (helmet? Where DID I leave that thing?)
Go for auto-sequence start (puts thumb on starter button)
Onboard launch sequencer is in control at this point (brain wonders if it’s up to the challenge)
We are GO for launch.
Ten… nine… eight… we have a go for main engine start… (deep breath)
Ignition sequence start… five… four… three… two… one…
Yeah, one would think an engineer…after 35 years of riding…would have a somewhat complex, thorough, and methodical approach to launching his motorcycle. The passion should be gone…removed from the equation. Safety and procedure are supposed to be paramount. The elimination of the art from the deed. Modern society seems to demand it. Nothing to fight. Nothing to create. Nothing to destroy. Nothing to be passionate about. No way to die.
But that’s no way to live.
Modern society is somewhat at a disadvantage when the real world intrudes.
I am not. I live there. Life IS art. Damn messy too.
My launch sequence would be the the equivalent of the shuttle pilot sticking his head out the window and yelling, “LIGHT ME!”
There’s a savage joy in the instant response of the big machine…an elation at her willingness to dance to the precise, fractional inputs to her controls.
It’s a complex dance, and though the manipulations of the controls are minuscule, the results are not at all subtle. Muscle, blood, steel, concrete. Cages, landscape, weather. The human element…emotion, skills, and failures. Ground pounding power. All these slam together and fly apart in a rapid sequence that’s hard to comprehend.
I live for this dance. I may die for it too. The consequences if I miss a step can be extreme. The machine, in the heat of the ride, is as much a part of me as my own beating heart. Following my lead, she will faithfully convey me straight to my death if I’m not up to the challenge.
Hope you’ve got your shit together…
Hope you’re quite prepared to die…
The neighbors get annoyed when I loudly sing that while zooming down the alley. Cops too. They seem to take it personally. It scares me that the cops are too young to know what/who CCR is.
The indifferent hostility of the city only adds to the dance. One driver switches lanes on top of me and never even looks. Another deliberately edges me out of my lane, using 3000 pounds of steel as a weapon to get his way. I can move or I can die. I’m never quite sure which I’ll choose.
This time I moved. He throws his coffee at me when traffic patterns put me near him again.
But this time, as in most, I win in the end.
The traffic breaks.
They can only shuffle along in their enclosed, protected, and colorless world.
I can fly!
I break the bonds of earth and run with the winds, smells, and sounds of the city. The beat of the engine becomes my pulse. My desire is instantly translated into movement. My very thought becomes direction. The passion rises…and the power becomes endless.
The machine and the man become an act of sheer will.
Time moves differently in that world. Hours, minutes, and miles merge with the mind guiding the flight. Where the machine leaves off and the man begins becomes a question. The road streams by, dealing up challenges. The mind learns, without possibility of mistake or self-delusion, exactly what it is capable of.
The dance continues until the universe ends…
…or until I have to stop for gas.
Which will it be today?
Live. Ride. See. Fly.
I’ll see you on the road.