Last week was the first time I rode on the back of a motorcycle in more than ten years. It was also the first time I rode with my husband, Aerostich’s Andy Goldfine, otherwise known as Mr. Subjective, whose life revolves around the activity, or what he would call “a social good.” In my years of knowing him, he has talked more about motorcycling and the benefits of motorcycling than anything else. The first time he launched into a monologue about it, I thought he was a bit off – even a little weird. Who was this guy, so passionate about motorcycling? I already knew he was a philosopher, as that is one of the main attributes that drew me to him, but I didn’t understand his drive (pun intended). I was intrigued.
Throughout the years, I have heard him talk about these beneficial factors to countless people; friends and family, strangers and more. He’ll talk about it anywhere – at a dinner party, on an airplane, even at our wedding!
When we headed up Highway 61 in Duluth the other day, I knew I was in good hands even if I was still a little scared. It had been so long since I had been on a bike and even though I have my motorcycle license and owned my own motorcycle once, I hadn’t ridden in ten years. During our ride, I was surprised how quickly I went from feeling scared to feeling alive, calm, and more in tune with the present moment. It dawned on me that I had forgotten so many things about motorcycling that I liked, the ones that drew me to get my own license 11 years ago.
I forgot what it felt like to see the world from a new perspective, one without windows intercepting my vision.
I forgot what it felt like to notice things on streets I have driven down countless of times. Mouldings on buildings. A lady sitting on her front porch step smoking a cigarette. A child learning how to ride a bicycle.
I forgot what it felt like to feel the wind push against my body. I forgot what it felt like to fly.
I smelled the fresh spring flowers and the fresh spring rain which had just come down earlier that day. So much freshness is not something you encounter when sealed in your car.
I connected. I smiled at people. The elderly couple at the stop light next to us. I waved. She waved and gave me a little grin. The younger couple at the stoplight on the way home – they smiled and looked at us a little quizzically. I even stuck my hand down to wave at another biker as we passed in opposite directions.
I also connected with my husband. Feeling my body press against his, his left hand patting my left leg, letting me know he was thinking of me.
I tasted freedom and the fresh Lake Superior windblown air.
I heard the sound of the bike rumbling against the pavement. I heard the birds chirping in the trees. I heard the wind as it brushed against my helmet.
At one point he said, “We’re whimsical.” I liked that.
I forgot all of these things’ and that short ride up Highway 61 reminded me and solidified everything he’s been telling me about riding since I met him, that motorcycling is a human and a social good. It brings us closer to others. It gives us better awareness of our surroundings, helps one to see more details and to be aware at all times, and it makes us better all-around citizens and car drivers. Motorcycling makes it easier to connect with others – and oneself – easier. Motorcycling can bring one to the present moment, experiencing all of the senses at once, in a new, transformative way.
All of these attributes make me a better car driver. I am now even more aware of those around me, looking out for others who are not in cars; motorcyclists, bikers, walkers, etc. Motorcycling is a solo activity, one which connects one to others in a profound way.
I don’t love motorcycling the way Mr. Subjective does; I probably never will. But I have tasted a new sense of freedom within and I want more of it. It’s been five days since we first took that ride together. On three of those days, I asked him to take me again. I have drunk the Kool-Aid. There’s no going back and I’m a better person for it.