Friday, July 16, 2010

Keeping It Fresh

Being only in my second season of riding a motorcycle, I'm starting to feel a bit 'hemmed in'. In other words, I'm running out of new roads and places to explore, which is half the fun of riding. I live in Rhode Island, the smallest state in the U.S.A., so it's mostly a matter of geography. Also, I have lived in this state my whole life, so there are very few major roads that I have not been on, at least on four wheels.

Even if I have been down a particular road in a car or truck, that road becomes 'new' again the first time I ride it on a motorcycle. I see, hear and smell things that I did not notice driving in a cage. I'm more aware of road conditions. After three, four, perhaps five times down any given road, the novelty and newness begins to wear off, no matter how scenic the road.

Now, if I have a passenger on my bike, roads I've traveled several times before become new again, because you are sharing them with someone who is experiencing them for the first time on a motorcycle. For instance, I've ridden over the Jamestown bridge on a motorcycle several times, and it's still a thrill, but this past spring, I took my girlfriend Anna over that bridge on my Harley. She had not ridden on the back of a motorcycle in over a decade, so it was an extra-special experience for me and her. I also enjoy taking her down country roads I'm well-familiar with, pointing out items of interest along the way. Or, Anna points things out to me that I may have never noticed before. It's like seeing through a new pair of eyes.

Riding in a group is another way old, familiar roads can take on new life. As part of the Rhode Island Special Olympics, police actually block off an interstate highway for a motorcycle run from Johnston to the University of Rhode Island in Kingston for the opening ceremony. What an experience it must be traveling on a normally-busy highway and not having to contend with cars and tractor-trailers, but sharing the road with about 1,000 other motorcycles (unfortunately, I did not get to go on this year's run). Like riding with a passenger on the back of your bike, riding in a group of motorcycles adds a whole new dynamic to the ride, separate from the actual route.

Eventually, though, it all comes back to geography. Rhode Island is, well ... small ... and there aren't many long stretches of roads that aren't plagued with traffic congestion or road construction. I've already ridden much of eastern Connecticut. I'm going to have to ride increasingly farther and farther away from home if I want to discover new horizons.


  1. Ken, don't forget to head North! Mass, NH & VT allows us Row Dylanders to ride their roads