Muscle Memory

Sometimes I wonder if I’m wired a little strangely.

Occasionally I have these dreams or deja-vu-esque feelings that sweep over me, quite powerfully.  What I’m talking about right now isn’t memory or emotion per se, but a sort of emotional memory of muscle memory, if you will.  I’ll remember very specifically and very strongly how my body felt at a certain time.  The top of the hill on my bicycle as a kid, football in the backyard as a teenager, the guitar in my hands as a young man.

Recently I had a very strong dream about being on a motorcycle.  It wasn’t even a long moment…all I can really remember is one quick transition, maybe about two minutes long.  First a quick right turn, then a reversal into a long left turn.  But it’s what I might call a full-body dream – I could tell you what every muscle in my body was doing at the time.  I don’t even know where it was; even though my waking mind has sort of identified it with this one little chicane-like turn in a small community I used to ride through, in the dream there was not that much information to clue me in.  It was just a road, somewhere, and me.

Right hand, pressure on the brake lever…I can feel the resistance through the front discs as the calipers grab, and the tiny bumps in the road feed back through the tires into the forks and through the handlebars into my palms.  Left hand, I feel the cables tensioning as I pull in the clutch.  Left foot, firm thunk as I click down a gear.  Neck craning to the right.  My left thigh and left butt cheek tighten as I raise myself off the seat; my right leg muscles then assume my body weight as I move off to the bike’s right side.  My right arm, shoulder, and chest move together to push the bar to the right.  I’m leaned over hard, holding my body upright with my core muscles, knee just off the ground through the sharp right turn.

Then the transition:  every muscle coming alive at once to smoothly dance to the other side.  Left arm and chest pushing on the left bar; weight transferring from right calf through right thigh to right butt to left butt to left thigh to left calf as I fluidly move my body from one side of the cycle to the other, chin pointed now to the left as I look past the apex of the left curve ahead.

Then the motorcycle answers back:  with my left hand providing pressure on the left bar to maintain the turn, I slowly roll on the throttle with my right, feeling the engine build power beneath me through the rear wheel, pushing me forward.  The waves in the pavement make the front wheel wobble, but the looseness in my arms absorbs it.  I feel the centrifugal force of the turn push my butt into the seat and my feet onto the pegs, and that divine heaviness builds as I open it up to the apex.

Then, suddenly, the apex is behind and I’m harder on the throttle, the pressure moving from pushing me down into my seat to back in my seat.  I gradually ease off the pressure on my left hand and slowly shift my weight on my left leg to recenter my body mass and the bike eagerly stands up, hungry for more.  The turns are behind me and the wind on my chest is a weight pushing me backward.

It’s been days since that dream and I can still feel the weight on my thighs and the tension on my shoulders as I moved my body over, transitioning from the right to the left.  There may be times that my mind doesn’t exactly remember the experience of riding…but apparently my body never forgets.

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3 Responses

  1. I have this too, although not REMOTELY as detailed. I’ll wake up and feel jolted twice: into sleep, because I was obviously running/having sex/driving my car rather than actually sleeping, and then again out of sleep. Most of the time I wake up still moving.

    I usually don’t wake up moving, but I know what you mean about sleeping but not resting in that manner.

  2. I call those field hockey dreams. The ball is coming to my non-stick side, and I wake up kicking to the left to make the save. I haven’t played for years, but I know by rote exactly how to move my body to make the save.

    Yep, that’s pretty much exactly what I’m talking about. And I have to admit, the “wake up kicking to the left” image made me laugh. And hope that Todd sleeps on the other side.

  3. “Sometimes I wonder if I’m wired a little strangely.”

    bitetonguebitetonguebitetonguebitetongue

    Heh! You can say it, I don’t think you’d surprise anybody by now!

    Calvin has that same “muscle memory” of riding motocross. It’s a rider thing, I think.

    Intriguing. I’ve never talked to anybody else about it; maybe I should sometime.

    Also… he wanted to ask about the possibility of renting a couple of motorcycles for a day while we’re in Indy? Don’t have to tell YOU how much fun that would be…

    Honestly, it would be a blast, but I think you underestimate how much time Dys and I spend at the track and how whooped we are at the end of it – the last two years I wouldn’t have had much time or energy for a well-deserved spin around the countryside. Especially if we’re gonna save any time for closing a bar or three. 😉

    We’ll talk about it though, wtf, right?

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