An intensive care unit (ICU) is a great place to think – there is so much time on your hands at all hours of the day and night, and you get to meet all these really nice people. The problem is you really can’t focus on much, the shadows dance against the wall and change. I blame it on the Dilaudid, or Plato, or life itself. Much of my waking hours early on were filled with a kaleidoscope of images from the past, in some cases the distant past: people, places, and bikes for the most part, and questions.
“We’re in such a hurry most of the time we never get much chance to talk. The result is a kind of endless day-to-day shallowness, a monotony that leaves a person wondering years later where all the time went and sorry that it’s all gone. ”
–Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values
Establish, project, extrapolate. Visual clues, internal clock, any sensory input repeated over and over again; aka, seat time. There is a sense of timing, a rhythm, that works, and many others that do not. Once you throw traffic in there, you must adapt. So, you change the model to your liking and do the same thing; establish, project, extrapolate. And it all happens in real time, at speed, every lap. That is road racing from a neuroscientist’s point of view, and it is also your daily commute.
Humankind has been preoccupied with fire and metal throughout recorded history. The Greeks had Hephaestus; the Norse – for simplicity’s sake – had Logi, though their table of organization for all things fire and metal related is about as cumbersome as General Motors before their reorganization, and the Romans? The Romans had Vulcan, often depicted with a large hammer, their god of fire and metalworking, the master of the forge.
Road racers live in a world of numbers. It is all about the numbers; split times, lap times, finishing positions, championship points, tech violations by a fraction of an inch, and classes delineated by years. It is also my birthday next week. Well, one of my birthdays anyway. It all boils down to the numbers.
I see Comrade Burns has taken another page from John’s Little Red Book to hold forth yet again on his notion of making the United States a communal roadside bangles and holistic herbal healing stand. From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs or something. In the last episode, we discovered the reason kids aren’t buying bikes is because we don’t live in a worker’s paradise. Well I’d like to take a moment and interrupt John’s embryonic five-year plan to simply say, “Piffle.”
I am a product of the 1970s, the decade of the UJM (Universal Japanese Motorcycle), what’s become known as the “standard” motorcycle. I come from a generation that gazed at Bol d’Or or Suzuka specials on magazine covers and drooled. I was a “standard” guy by any measure, and my meager means at the time made it so. Much as I once drooled over a new Ducati 900SS sitting in a shop next to an equally alluring Darmah, I could no more afford those bikes at the time, much less the upkeep, than I could an Ivy League education. The beauty of those bikes though was evident right down to the attention to detail and artistry of the controls and rear-sets. But I was a rubber footpegs kind of guy; I was woefully standard.
There are two types of people in this world; there’s the truly innovative and creative, and then there’s folks like me who aren’t but appreciate their work and wonder why I couldn’t have come up with those ideas. Case in point, an old friend, Steve Tice, and my 1970s-era Bell Star helmet that would ride up on my head at go-to-jail speeds.
I’m a simple guy. The thought of a good burger and a beer on a veranda somewhere magical appeals to me; perfect roads, inspiring views, some sort of isolated Shangri-La, it’s not a lot to ask. Well, okay, maybe it’s a lot to ask, but it is nice to imagine. A guy can dream, and then the strangest things happen, only in California.
“There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”