Riding is the easy part…
"Am I ready for this?" I asked myself for what must have been the thousandth time that week and probably the hundredth time that morning. There just was not an easy answer. Was the equipment ready? Sure…at least as ready as I could make it. Was the bike ready? Absolutely. I ride my machine, and ride her hard, but I also maintain her well and would trust her for a multi-thousand mile trip at any moment's notice.
The machine and the man. The bike was not my worry. The man and the machine. Always there are two major components to the equation…the machine was ready, but what about the man? Was I ready? Me? Again, there was just no easy answer. Physically I was sure I was up to it. I am extremely…durable. Mentally was an entirely different question.
It takes a certain thought process to be able to leave your wife, family, and friends and set out on a month-long voyage alone, into unfamiliar territory. I have it…sometimes. Other times I simply wonder why I do it…why I desire it. There are no easy answers there either.
"Know thyself" is kind of a personal quest of mine so I usually try to be honest with myself and frequently do some deep soul searching. It had not helped at all this time. Was I ready for this? I truly didn't know. That felt very strange.
I took a deep breath of the balmy Texas night air as I scanned the friendly dash lights of my F6 Valkyrie cruiser. I sat lightly in the saddle with both feet on the ground, not quite ready to move yet. The city was eerily silent despite the quiet rumble of the big machine beneath me. Four am on a weekend will have that affect. Another deep breath did nothing to quiet the swirling feelings. Just what was this I was feeling? Fear? Excitement? Anticipation? Anger? Was I hungry? I really could not pin it down; the sensations sliding from my head down my spine and into my stomach, and then rapidly back to my head again. The trip left goose bumps in its wake.
Staring into the night, breathing deeply of the balmy air, I found myself wondering what was ahead and at the same time trying to understand what it was I was leaving behind. My head was in turmoil and I was already lonely and yes, I admit it, just a bit homesick.
Scary, since I had not yet left the driveway…
Ahead of me was a 12,000-mile journey into unknown territory and essentially unpredictable conditions. The storms were waiting. The roads, some inviting and some overtly hostile lay ahead. The people, friendly and otherwise were scattered on my route. New friends, new places, and new problems were waiting over the horizon. Uncertainty loomed.
Behind me were my friends, my family, and my career. How would my journey affect them? Did I even have the right to allow it to? Just what is it that drives me on?
I "blipped" the throttle on the gleaming black and chrome machine. The unique and quietly powerful sound of the big flat-six engine instantly responded, reminding me of the forces at my command.
I gave a last glance back at the house…at the comfortable and familiar life I was leaving behind…and then looked ahead and gunned the big bike. As I accelerated out of the driveway and headed for the highway I wondered again. I grinned and slapped the big cruiser on the tank, and then hung on as I rocketed up the freeway ramp. Was I ready for this? I still didn't know.
I would just have to go and find out.
I'll see you on the road.