Riding hard through a fractured landscape, the heavy raindrops spatter and run off my clear riding glasses. The lines and droplets cut and distort the steel gray view.
My helmet visor is up, having long ago become too much of an impediment to my vision in the blowing water and storm darkened twilight. I peer over my windshield and the rain assaults my face.
Rain. Clouds. Wind. Water. Road. That is my entire world.
The water blows off the glasses. Mostly.
A fractured view for a fractured soul. Wet, grey, and cold engulfs the world and defines my mood.
Wind and water almost drown out the noises of the machine I’m astride, but eventually the big cruiser makes herself known.
“What ya running from boss?”
“Not running babe.”
She is silent a moment. I slide her through a turn barely keeping the thousand pounds of man and machine to the road. Splashing through the standing water, I am throwing 40-foot rooster tails behind as I work her back through the gears to nearly 80mph. The level of concentration, tension, and attention to the “feel” of the machine and the road required to successfully navigate these conditions with this…intensity…is beginning to wear on me.
There’s more than 100 miles left to go.
I shudder but determinedly press on just as hard.
“Sure looks like running to me boss.”
“Not running babe.” I say it with less conviction this time.
She laughs. “You forget what I am boss. You can’t hide from me.”
…the soul is a motorcycle.
The cold-front had blown in hard, plunging the world into a grey chill, blustery winds, and a cold, steady rain.
It’s a herald. A sign. Summer is coming to an end. I didn’t respond well to that. I’ve known all my life that the demons that haunt me…or hunt me…grow from the cold places on this earth.
They are best fought with a hot summer night ride or wrapped in the arms of a willing woman. Circumstances were denying me both this night.
Determined, I took off on the ride anyway, blasting into the cold rain wearing little more than a tee-shirt and jeans.
What does not kill me…
Fears. Doubts. Questions I can’t answer. People I can’t help. Desires. Passions. Mortality. Limits. Things slipping from my grasp. All ammunition for the things that stalk me in this cold storm…this death of the summer.
I push it to the edge. Right to the edge. It’s a challenge. It’s a skill. And yes, I finally admit, I am running. The challenge…the experience…can stave off the thoughts.
The big cruiser seemed to laugh again. “HA! Boss! You can’t run from what you carry with you!”
I grunted, twisted the throttle to its stop, and growled, “Challenge accepted.”
Within minutes, we broke out between storms…a brief reprieve from the walls of flying water. The clouds broke…a space between east and west. Right at sunset, the western sky lit up in almost blinding oranges, yellows, and reds that are felt more than seen, experienced right to the core. The oncoming storm was deep purple but a trick of the light had the intense colors appear to be streaming upward from the darkness. Gods battle and worlds are formed in such color. Us lesser mortals that dare to ride here learn something of magic…and of life and death.
The reprieve was short. Fast approaching the waiting seemingly solid wall of cold rain and gray colors it felt as if I was entering an enemy’s land, charging his camp and issuing a mortal challenge. I’m not sure I didn’t yell as we entered the dense rain again, but I know I never slowed down.
Survived again. Chilled and shivering. Fueled for another round…only a few miles to go…we idled out of the station parking lot. The rain had changed to mist but water was still streaming off me and the bike. The memories of the explosion of color and the contrast of the dark storms burned through my mind and gave me the will to continue on and warmed my very core. A deep breath, and I extended my awareness and allowed myself to feel. My hunters were gone.
As I waited for a break in the traffic, The Dragon grumbled beneath me.
“You didn’t lose them you know.”
“I know babe.”
“You’ve only contained them.”
“Sometimes babe, contained just has to do. Let’s ride.”
“You got it boss.”
A twist of the throttle, and we were gone.
I’ll see you on the road.