Rooster Tail

It is the first cool morning after a long hot summer.  The sun shone brightly upon rising, but an hour later the clouds have lazily drifted in.  I could care less; an hour after sunrise I am fifty miles from home.  The twin cylinders beneath me are pushing me along…to somewhere, anywhere, nowhere at all.  I have my visor slightly open and the cool breeze in my face feels like heaven.

It is early September, and in the bluffs along the Ohio River the forest canopy is as heavy as it has been all year – but there is a crispness in the air after the laden haze of summer that offers a delicious promise of the autumn to come.  I have not seen another human being for the better part of an hour – just birds, squirrels, and one small deer too young to be skittish as I rolled past.  The air smells of leaves and creek mud…and beneath it all, only noticed subconsciously at this point, sweat:  the familiar smell of the inside of my helmet that is indelibly imprinted upon my brain as the smell of riding.

The forest opens up; I am approaching a small town.  Or, rather, a crossroads – a handful of houses, a tiny church, and a volunteer fire station.  As the shelter of the canopy falls behind me, I start to feel the first drops of rain.  By the time I reach the stop sign at the crossroads and pause to decide which way to turn, it is steadily pouring.  My leathers are porous, and my arms and thighs are getting wet – and heavy, as the leather absorbs water.  I start to notice that distinct smell of wet leather in addition to the maturing corn in a nearby field.

I notice a child watching me – she must have been in the yard before the rain started, but now she’s taken shelter beneath a carport.  She is twelve or thirteen years old and is looking at me with something approaching pity in her eyes.  I slip the shifter into neutral, and realizing that she can’t see my smile beneath my mirrored visor, I raise both arms out to my sides, looking heavenward, and then turn toward her with an exaggerated “what do you do?” shrug.

Almost imperceptibly, she shakes her head.  The gesture, and the situation, strike me just so, and as I drop down into first gear and turn left past her, waving goodbye, I start to laugh.  I am laughing so hard that I have to work to concentrate on the slickening road.

And as the sun peeks through the falling rain for a moment, I can see it in my mind’s eye…the arc of droplets being heaved skyward by my rear wheel, cutting the light into a rainbow of glittering diamonds.

But that is all behind me, and I am moving on, my skin cooling and my leathers already drying in the wind as the shower falls away.  I keep my front wheel pointed straight ahead…to somewhere, anywhere, nowhere at all.

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4 Responses

  1. I am sorry you don’t have access to this experience anymore – at least, not externally. You will always have it in your mind, and hence in brilliant posts like this one.

    Thanks. I went to the grocery store early Saturday morning, and the cooler weather and the unexpected sprinkle that hit me as I left to get into my car jolted me back to moments like this. In the two or three miles between the store and my house, I pretty much wrote this whole thing in my head. (I like it when that happens.)

    I’ll get it back. Somehow, someday.

  2. Someday, my friend. Um, if you ever visit AZ would Dys let you take the Vulcan for a spin? It’s not a sport bike but it’s a hella lotta fun…

    You know, I’ve had similar offers before – a friend of Dys’s rode her bike to our house once and said “Here, take it around the block,” and I turned her down. That was before I even had my bike. After mine was totaled, another friend invited me to a rally and said I could ride her bike all I wanted while I was there, and I turned her down too. Part of it is a measure of just how utterly horrible I’d feel in the extremely unlikely event that I had some sort of an accident on their bike.

    And part of it is that I know how addictive the experience of riding is. I’m just not sure how I’d handle that little spike of a hit, knowing that it would be another looooooong and uncertain time before the next one came long.

  3. it’s so nice to get a window into the sheer beauty of your writing, nice variety on your blog 😉

    You mean, “Hey, this was good for a change!” 😀

    Thanks, Romi, I appreciate it. I know this was something different, and I really enjoyed writing it.

  4. See, when you said “Rooster Tail” I thought you meant the wake my outboard engine makes just before the boat’s about to plane across the water.

    Hey, this is my obsession; get your own blog!

    Oh, wait…

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