|01-09-2002, 10:39 PM||#1|
Joined: Jul 2001
Location: Nicetown, USA
This ride report was sent to me by my buddy Eric's (Moonbeem) daughter.
Ammi has told me she would welcome any direct feedback regarding this story:
Loose Gravel: A Query into Motorcycle Mystics
Hearing my father talk about GS riders, I wasn't sure if it was like being the victim of
an infliction or a member of an elite group. Only later did I discover that it means
being individually enlightened on two wheels. . .
I left Europe wearing high heels, a cell phone in my pocket, and dragging my
Samsonite suitcases behind me with the intent of dissipating my newfound culture in
the Idaho cabin of my parents.
The first indication I had that I was no longer in the world I had become familiar with
was a gathering of dirt under my fingernails. I was continuously cleaning my fingers
and eventually asked myself where the hell all that dirt was coming from. I realized
rather abruptly that in my cobblestone street and sterile white flat there is no dirt.
Even on long runs in the forests of Germany, gravel paths prevent muddy shoes. I'm
convinced that the dirty hands were symbolic of a much more epic difference
between my two worlds: That of my childhood home and family, and that of my
career woman, organized desktop lifestyle.
Most of the memories of my travels while I was in Idaho are centered around smells
and winds. Some moments seem to be isolated by such a uniqueness in the
atmosphere that I cannot find any comparison, nor the words to describe them.
In the deserts of South Idaho and north-eastern Oregon there is a wind that indicates
its presence only by carrying the smell of sage past ones face. Nothing moves out
there when you are standing still. Walking across the dry soil will force small
creatures to scatter from one bush to the next and the only sound you hear is your
clothing scraping against the rough sage leaves.
It was these small experiences that woke me from an office-induced coma and
reminded me of life and the many colors and flavors it promises.
After much discussion and eventual persuasion, my father decided to sit me on the
back of his GS and ride across the country with him. The issue wasn't whether or not
there was room (though we will address this later in some detail), but whether or not I
would actually enjoy such a journey.
"But we're going to sleep in a tent." He said.
"And we will be riding all day on some pretty rough roads."
"Are you sure you will like it?" What he really meant was 'please don't sucker me into
taking you along only to listen to how numb your butt is and how hard it is to sleep
without a pillow.' I wasn't going to give in, even if I was concerned about the well
being of my latest hairstyle.
On a July Sunday morning we began packing. The rule was: Pack everything you
are absolutely convinced that you must have with you, then cut that in half. It was an
easy enough equation and I was up to the challenge. After filling my allotted saddle
bag (it took me two hours to decide which essential items I would leave behind), I
was still holding the journal that I refused to leave behind. I detected a bit of
reluctance in Eric's manner as he packed my book in a bag that was previously not
reserved for my belongings. The book came, and the result is this monologue of
We also had to find room for our running shoes. Running shoes were an essential
item for the both of us as we were in the final weeks of our pre-triathlon training. In
the final phases of packing we were left with three essential items of which we could
only pack two. Running shoes, rain gear, and a very nifty (and apparently 'essential')
portable tire pump. After much discussion, a decision was made.
"The running shoes have to come. We have to race in two weeks! This is when
training really counts, Dad." He couldn't argue with that.
"The rain gear takes up a lot of room." He said. I was already imagining drowning in
the flow-off of some sixteen-wheeler that we would be passing in the middle of a
"You're not bringing the pump just to impress the other riders?"
"So is my curling iron."
"It's not going to rain." And with that, he packed the pump and muttered something to
the effect of 'not a cloud in the sky.'
Once packing was complete, we discussed the route to Boise and the approximate (a
very loosely used term in biker dialect) riding time involved. We estimated something
around eight hours. I have since then learned that numbers, judgment of time, and
most other universal laws apply much differently to people who ride motorcycles (that
is, if they apply at all). Whereas an hour to a car driver will mean that from the time
they start driving their car to the time they reach their destination, sixty minutes will
have passed, an hour to a motorcyclist includes only those minutes when one is:
driving without other traffic hazards (like other cars, Goldwings, and intersections),
driving on roads worthy of two-wheel travel, or driving over the speed limit. Excluded
from this calculation are minutes during which: refueling is occurring, lunch is eaten
at Dairy Queen, the driver is lost.
I had never been anywhere south of Coeur d'Alene in Idaho but had heard much
about nearby bingo halls and mystic potato fields for which the state is known (that
and a few bad apples). We took Highway 95 and headed for Boise; passing RVs,
SUVs, and other fashionable acronyms. Along the highway we passed a sign that
said 'Coeur d'Alene Indian Reserve' and I recall feeling a great sense of relief that we
were reserving Indians and that they were even posting it on a sign to console the
conscious of concerned citizens.
There were other indications that we had come across Injun Territory as well. After we
passed the government road sign, the forest continued on in its usual bushy green
way until we came unsuspectingly around a curve and were momentarily so
disoriented by the spectacle in front of us that there was no question of the bright
bingo monument being a driving hazard. The parking lot was a sea of Cadillacs that
rested on a shore of handicapped walkways to the entrance of a senior citizen
As we drove by the first few firework stands (our favorite being the Patriotic Missile
Factory) and smoke shops, I began to notice other changes in the landscape. In the
towns there were almost no houses with real foundations. Something told me that it
wasn't the nomadic habits of Native Americans that resulted in their mobile home
housing habits. Nor could it be the cause of their broken car collecting.
I get the impression that the Native Americans are a people who are dying out (not
that this is any idea new to people of the world). We haven't even gone as far as
integrating their culture into our own. We quarantined them off (what was left of
them) and consider ourselves good Samaritans when we lose a couple of bucks at
the casino or buy our children M-80s for Independence Day. And after our
systematic raping of their culture, not to mention outright genocide of their peoples,
we have the nerve to point our fingers at a nation in social despair and demand more
from them. We take their fishing rights, cut their forests, kill their animals, and make
Indian Reserves so that someday we can have a museum in 'honor' of them (and set
up Little Tomahawk's Spare Rib Grill next door).
We passed through the reservation and I was glad to see the fields again. The wind
was blowing over the grain, leaving golden-brown lines swaying across the hills.
Sometimes we would drive miles without seeing houses or other signs of civilization.
When I hear Europeans talk about America they are always terribly descriptive with
statements like 'It's so big.' I assumed it was a lack of information or experience,
perhaps lexicon, that forced them to make such general statements. I found that
once I was there and traveling across the countryside, I understood that sometimes
that was the only description. Surely, when in comparison to European countryside,
America is simply big.
As we came down into Lewiston (a horrid smoke stack of a town), I could see
scattered clouds on the horizon. I recall a wisp of a reminder that if we got a flat tire,
we were prepared, but if it rained, we were not. Once out of Lewiston we began to
climb out of the valley. Eric left the main road in a moment of biker intuition (it's like a
sixth sense) and took a smaller road winding up the hillside.
I've seen a few amazing things in my life and I suspect that I will be seeing more as
this life continues. I've seen how the trilliums bloom in spring, and how the coliseum
towers over an intersection in Rome, how the Rhein river weaves its way between
the wine hills of Hessen. None of those things brought such great wonder to me,
such breathless awe, as the view I saw that day of the world stretching out before
When we climbed this road, I was rather certain we had found biker nirvana. There
was little to no traffic, and nothing but curves and cool, dark pavement. It was like a
seam between the fields, a scar of modernization and industry, but even the road had
its place on this hillside. As we rose above Lewiston (which was thankfully quickly
from view), the plains expanded before us, reaching in every direction, painting a
horizon of browns and greens. And there was nothing. There were no clusters of
tiled roofs, intersections, trains.
It was all so enormous, so infinite, that I wasn't sure if my tears were from the wind in
my face or the realization of how small I was in comparison to all this. I hung onto
the bike, leaning with it around each curve, a serpentine of yellow stripes below us,
and a world of wonder before us.
Once we were out of the valley, it was clear that the clouds posed much more of a
threat than they did from the other side of Lewiston. We pulled off the road and into
a town made of a few scattered houses and a closed gas station. We put a few
layers of clothes on beneath our leathers (I was actually wishing I simply had rain
gear to wear over them) and left the station just as the rain started.
The first drops were something akin to blobs of liquid launching from the heavens in
some kamikaze flight towards us. I could feel them through my leathers, cold and
wet. The few clouds in front of us had gone from white cirrus to simply a black wall
and the only road around was driving straight into it. Being that we had no other
choice, we drove towards the ominous sky as any determined biker would.
And then it began to rain. The drops that came down were so big that I felt as if I
were sitting below a waterfall. I was soaked within a matter of minutes and was
fearing a death by drowning when suddenly, by some miracle of God, the road turned
and led us to the edge of the storm. The rain stopped. I turned my head to watch
the blackness move over the fields behind us.
To the right of us, the sun met the storm and two rainbows stretched across the sky
from one end to the next.
We stopped at the next gas station to change into dry layers and warm up and all
Eric said (with his charming grin and see-it's-not-so-bad-without-raingear look) was
"No rain, no rainbow."
Unfortunately, the next several rain storms we suffered through were at night and
there were no rainbows to be seen. We arrived in Boise late and with wet bones and
voted to stay in a hotel rather than meet up with our friends and set up camp. The
next morning we drove south of Boise to meet up with several other GS riders for the
start of the Nez Pierce Rally.
When we arrived, most of the bikes had already left. The two remaining bikes
belonged to Tommy and Allie, and their son, Nick. They had waited for Eric to arrive
(familiar with his perpetual, chronic ability to be late) and even had warm coffee for
us. Tommy's bike looked as though it was similar in age to me and had a skateboard
bungeed onto the back. Allie was riding a R 1100 with matching bags pronouncing
'www.motormom.gone' across their beemer logos.
The chase bus was still there as well with the Pierce Rally organizer, Mike. He gave
us our maps (something that looked like a placenta made of roads), gave us simple
directions, and was on his way. The idea was to follow the highlighted roads on the
map and meet up at camp sometime later in the day. It sounded easy enough to me,
but then again, it was my first rally and Mike-map experience.
We were lost approximately 2.3 miles after departure. 2.3 miles after that, Allie laid
her bike in the gravel and tore off a bag, not to mention put a lovely hole in her steel-
toed boots. We took a break to repair Allie's bag and eat trail mix. I unpacked my
journal and trudged up the hillside to find my place in some sage and write.
Out there in the deserts of southern Idaho the landscape is made up of dirt, sage,
falling fences, and cows. And perhaps the occasional No Trespassing sign
(promoting use of heavy artillery for violators). As I sat there between the sage
bushes I listened to the silence of the wind, how the desert seemed to swallow all
other noises and the only movement was the restless sage.
The air out there was crisp and thin and even though the sun was warming, the
breeze would lap the heat off me before it reached my core. A lizard scurried past
me and around a bush. The rawness of my surroundings took my mind for a walk
and I recall wondering what this place was like before homo sapiens took it over,
carved roads in hills like scalpels carve in skin, and built our strewn-out homes
across the country.
I don't want to belong to that category of people who believe changes should never
take place and that we humans have simply raped and pillaged our mother earth.
Nor do I fancy being so naïve as to not consider our effects or responsibilities to the
earth. As a species that seems to multiply and expand faster than most bacteria, it's
difficult not to view us as some sort of parasite or disease that is sucking the very
essence out of this planet. We can't change that now, or can we?
If some nomad in the northern parts of Africa had never figured out that you can use
the seeds of a plant to grow new plants, agriculture wouldn't have come about. If
agriculture hadn't come about and people were forced to carry with them everything
they gave birth to, first of all, the Catholic church would have no chance, and second,
we wouldn't be overpopulated. Perhaps there are other planets in the universe with
completely nomadic peoples who live off the earth and replenish it with their own
Sometimes on the motorcycle we would reach hilltops where I thought maybe, just
maybe we were the only people to have ever seen this. Maybe it hasn't been
touched, scoured, abused by others. On certain occasions, I could tell that the
people there before me thought exactly the same thing, watched where they stepped,
and kept the view to themselves. These are the places that remind me where I am
and how grateful I can be.
The desert is one of the best places to come across untouched land. Or at least
unpopulated. With it's sage bushes and dull brown soil, lizards and bugs, it fends off
humanity as if it were the pest (and perhaps it is). Because there are no trees to cut
and no fruits to be grown, we quietly avoid it and build our cities in old growth forests.
If one takes a closer look at the life of a desert, it's much more attractive. Naturally
we don't want to tell anyone that, lest our deserts become the final frontier.
That day we spent hours lost in the desert, riding like wobbly children on new bikes
up what Mike referred to as 'roads' and what everyone else refers to as 'cow trails.'
There were so many of these cow trails put on this map, it's a wonder anyone took so
much time to make a map of them at all. After riding around aimlessly and with
hunger setting in, I was convinced that no one ever mapped the actual roads at all,
but simply drew some squiggly lines and handed it into the Geographical Atlas offices
thinking 'why do cows need maps anyway?'
We would often find signs (scratches in the dirt) left by other bikers, pointing us in the
right direction. There was a spot on the map labeled Silver City which we began
viewing with similar affection as that to the Holy City because we were certain there
would be a burger joint there. We drove through creeks and over rocks, avoiding
nervous cows and closed gates behind us. What we thought was Silver City was
actually a mine falling off a hillside. I can't imagine that people actually came out to
these places and built a mine. How did they get here? Did they live here? Was it a
family or a business? It was so far from everything else that it didn't make sense to
me. It also didn't appear to be a very successful mine, in its broken down, sun-
Hunger-driven, we headed in the other direction, down through the hills. Trees
began to appear again. Eric entertained himself by riding through all puddles and
laughing like a madman while doing so. We weaved down a valley next to a creek
for miles and seemed to be spat out from the hills rather suddenly. The road
widened, and what looked like a house appeared on the left.
For a brief moment I was in a completely different world. The only sound I heard was
the distant hum of engines and my own breathing. Through the drops of mud on my
visor I watched the house as we drove past it slowly, and regardless of our speed,
the entire moment remains like a slow motion film to me.
The house was a single story shack with an open doorway and one, perhaps two,
windows in the front. It was only a few meters wide, wooden, and grayed from the
sun. The roof hung well over the front, making a sort of porch. Hanging from the
edge were pieces of wood, feathers, small trinkets that I could not identify. There
was a dog somewhere. Below the porch roof were two people sitting in chairs,
watching us roll by as if we were the entertainment for the afternoon.
Past the house was a great wall built likely by children from scraps. There was
something written on it though I no longer recall what. And a tepee, or the poles
therefore were behind the wall. I saw children playing. There were things lying about
upon the ground. Tires? Wood? Rubbish? We drove past and I turned my head to
the road again. A few meters later we found some shade and stopped for lunch.
As we began to eat, more bikes came off the mountain and I believe every rider
mentioned the house, not simply because it was the only one they had seen for
hours. We all dug into our bags and took out whatever food we had in order to
arrange a smorgasbord of edible delights. Allie made us sandwiches and Eric and I
donated trail mix and Clifbars (what our diet had consisted of up until this point).
Pretty soon there were a dozen bikes, people greeting each other, exchanging
stories of how lost they were or how many cows they nearly ran over.
~~~~~~ continued ...~~~~~~~~~
cRAsH screwed with this post 01-10-2002 at 01:02 PM
|01-09-2002, 10:41 PM||#2|
Joined: Jul 2001
Location: Nicetown, USA
Loose Gravel Part II
That night we pulled into camp somewhere in north eastern Oregon. It was a half-developed hot-spring tourist attraction off the side of the highway and very much in the middle of nowhere. We parked somewhere on the edge where we could see the
horses and cows off in the distant fields and set up our tent. I attempted to go for a run but the desert floor was soft and littered with miscellaneous holes from hooves which threatened to turn an ankle. The last thing I wanted was to be out in the
middle of nowhere cuddling with a sage bush to keep warm.
I wandered past some horses who did not appear content with my presence. I rolled beneath a few barbed wire fences and tried not to forget which direction I had come from. Far from camp I came across the skeleton of a large cow. It was almost
whole, left just as it had lain down long ago. I examined the pieces carefully, picked up a femur and awed at the size of it. The cow must have been enormous. A vertebrae lay to a few feet away from the rest of the skeleton and I picked it and took
it back to camp with me.
I presented it to Eric proudly.
"Look what I found, Dad." He looked at it for a split second, as if perhaps he were slightly interested but then biker/father mode kicked in, the look disappeared, and he said "Neat. We don't have room for that."
As I was still recouping from the lack of rain gear the previous day, I was very aware that there was no extra room on the bike. I dropped the vertebrae next to the tent and went to pillage the grill for a hot dog. I wasn't gone for more than a minute and
upon my return found Eric attempting to strap the vertebrae to the front of the bike, telling me that his bike is referred to as 'the Red Bull.'
That night the sky was clear and when the sun set everyone gathered around the fire or went for a dip in the hot spring. In the warm water you could see the stars so clearly in all directions, even their reflection danced on the surface of the water. Conversation was light, people floated around and complained about how lost they had been. I hadn't offered my theory of map origination, though now that I think back, perhaps it would have been a good idea. Maybe then we wouldn't have gotten so lost the next day.
People who ride a GS for the purpose of riding a GS (not to exclude other riders, but our test subjects were limited) are unknown followers of the Be-Here-Now Theory. I never heard statements like 'I have a meeting next week,' or 'what if we're late?' Such considerations of time have no place in the travels of GS riders, and not solely for the reason that they are always lost. So during our travels, I was forced to adhere to Be-Here-Now practices myself. I've come to the hypothesis that it may very well be exactly why people ride.
Living in the moment allows one to experience the moment at a focused point. Our own perceptions of the experience can be better enhanced if we clear our minds from yesterday and tomorrow. Those were or will be experienced. I'm quite certain that most philosophers and anyone else who thinks beyond their next meal has come to the same conclusion and further investigation is not necessary.
For exactly these reasons, I quickly forgot my world in Germany. My job became unimportant (unimportant! I have a proposal due at nine a.m. next week!!!) and my white tile floors may as well have been dirt. My Italian shoes and French cigarettes had no meaning anymore. At least not where I was. I was so consumed by the smell of plants, the setting of the sun, and counting how many stars were visible at any given point in the night. Somehow those things seemed more real to me than ever before.
It was a vision quest on two wheels.
**** Though commercial breaks are not common to essays, the author would like to make a short break here for an off-the-subject anecdote.
Somewhere around the 8th page, the author had three days of writer's block tougher than most bricks and concrete that you can purchase at the local brick layer's shop. She would turn in her bed at night, contemplating some sort of center theme to tie her
paragraphs together, but nothing came. In an act ofdesperation, she turned to biker friend, Ray (crash-master extraordinaire). Thanks to Ray's moment of motivational inspiration, the author can now continue to write. "Get fucked-slam-up," he said.
Please disregard any spelling errors for the next two chapters.****
The next day we camped somewhere else in Oregon. Where is nonessential
information, partly because I don't remember, and partly because when you're out
there, titles and governmental signs are of no importance (particularly speed limit
signs and road closure notifications). It took us approximately 172 map-unfolding
ceremonies and countless arguments to get us where we were going, but with
Tommy's Me Know, No Map approach, we eventually managed to find the rest of our
clan somewhere in the mountains.
After arriving we decided that perhaps a bit of training was in order and Moonbeem
and I decided to go for a run up the hill. At the trail head there was a sign that
warned against hiking alone as a result of recent cougar sightings and cautioned
against running, should one be sighted. Great. With that we started up the hill at a
snail pace (because my legs were inclined to move more at some speed akin to that
of an amoeba). The forest there was incredibly lush and the trail curved around and
over the hills, but no matter how high we seemed to go, we never got to the end.
Generally a trail has some sort of goal, some breathtaking view to boast. This one
only had trees and grass with which to lure potential hikers.
After some time we decided to take our five minute break and head back towards
camp. I got a head start and went tearing down the trail by myself knowing that Eric
would soon catch up. At some point I thought I heard something in the brush and
stopped. I heard it again and my biological cougar alarm went off. I walked a bit and
then, to my utter surprise, discovered that it was no cougar, but a herd of wild horses.
My presence there was an obvious intrusion into their backyard and they did not
appear to be very amused.
As a single being, intruding on such creatures is not such a great offence. We seem
to be a greedy bunch of space-wasting beings though, and a great feeling of shame
overcame me while standing there, like a person showing up at a party to which they
were purposely not invited. I read once that there are two kinds of people, those that
arrive in a room and say 'here I am' and those that arrive and say 'aah, there you
are!' Humans seem to belong to a third, undefined group that says 'here I am, now
get the fuck out of my way, I need a new shopping mall.'
All the animals of the forests have been prey to this expansion and the devastating
trampling of the land. Perhaps one day they will go Animal Farm on us and revolt.
Some theorists think Mother Earth is doing this already. Christians, on the other
hand, accept this planet like a child with a new Christmas toy. Adam and Eve took it
for granted and now there is no hope left and it doesn't matter anyway because the
faster we fuck it up, the quicker Armageddon comes about and it's eternal paradise
for us all (or those deserving). Wouldn't it be a good idea to have a backup plan, just
Of course, having a backup plan to Armageddon would suggest a lack of faith, which
is simply not acceptable. If we slid some kind of 'holy intervention' clause in there,
we maybe could get away with developing such a backup plan. Until now, no biblical
scholar has been able to interpret any phrase in the bible to suggest that such a plan
would be a good idea. Of course, they have interpreted that Jezebel was a whore
and Lot's wife was a nymphomaniac orgy-goer. And that Mary was a virgin. If those
boys hadn't got bored by the time they had finished scarring the integrity of the
female version of our species, perhaps they would have found a need for a backup
plan. Naturally, if Armageddon doesn't come and there is no backup plan, the taster
of forbidden fruits will be blamed again.
Campfire discussions that take place amongst the likes of Beemer riding folk is
generally not your typical conversation. It may have been a good opportunity on that
evening to bring forth my theory of a back up plan (or even a proposal), but for
unknown reasons I kept it to myself. The fire was warm, the creek made a bit of
background music, and people told tales of paradise roads and new brake
developments. Sleep came late, my leathers acting as a substitute pillow.
The following day we rode to Paulina Peak with a few other riders. We took back
roads through the Oregon high deserts that led us up to the great volcano crater the
back way. Out there on the high desert you feel so close to the sky that the clouds
seem almost like a blanket looming ominously over your head. The roads will stretch
out for miles in front of you until at some distant horizon, sage bush meets sky and in
the middle somewhere is a single yellow dotted line. It is something like a road to
The concept of infinity is relatively baffling in itself. It isn't a concept that I have spent
much time considering because it tends to put a person in place. It's like watching
the universe expand before your eyes and seeing how big (or little) you are in
perspective relation. It's an awesome contemplation. Seeing the clouds lay before
me brought me to question what infinity is or why we even have such a broad
concept if we can't make use of it or fully understand it. Not in this lifetime anyway.
I read once in a book a comparison between infinity and a hotel that never gets filled
(due to unlimited possibility for reservations and expansion). It was a horrid book
about apologetics (a wrongly named science as I am a firm believer that Christians
sure as hell should be apologizing for their religion and apologetics does anything but
that). It was a half-assed explanation, but in a biased and scientifically incorrect
manner brought the reader to the conclusion that God existed and that He obviously
intended us to become Christians. Apologetics could sell refrigerators to Eskimos
with a similar technique.
What I don't understand about the Apologetics technique is that it seems to take the
only good things left right out of Christianity: the faith and mysticism. Traditions might
be able to weasel their way into that 'good things' group if the Christians would stop
pillaging pagan celebrations, calling them Christmas and Easter and making them the
biggest shopping days of the year. The Catholics might have a chance with
Communion as well if they would really start drinking blood (great lot of wussy
vampires they are) instead of wine.
faith (f th) n.
1. Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or
2. Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.
3. Loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance: keeping faith with one's supporters.
4. often Faith Christianity. The theological virtue defined as secure belief in God
and a trusting acceptance of God's will.
5. The body of dogma of a religion: the Muslim faith.
6. A set of principles or beliefs.
Strangely enough, I didn't notice any reference to faith including some sort of
'scientific proof' being required, necessary, or suggested before real faith could be
attained. Nor do the Apologetics say that of a good Christian. But they feed
apologetics theory down Christian throats and watch it slither it's way into their faith-
fattened bellies like justified oil. The result is Christians using it to scientifically justify
their faith to non-Christians.
I am by no means suggesting that one should blindly go into faith without
understanding or questioning the background, though this often seems to be the
case. My personal favorite brand of Christian is the 'educated Christian' - a rare
bunch of college graduates or avid readers that can justify, explain, and confirm their
religious beliefs in a few short arguments such as:
1 All things have a beginning
1 All beginnings have a creator
2 God created the universe and made man to be Christians
As entertaining as their arguments and logical building blocks may be, I find myself
disappointed by the lack of spiritual meat involved. I've often questioned a close
friend of mine who is a raging lunatic of a Catholic Apologetic with the result of such
Ammi: So why have you chosen Christianity over a variety of other less blood-
Raging Lunatic: I've read the research, scientific and dogmatic, and found that
Catholicism holds an absolute truth against which I, and no one else, could
Translation: My mom baptized me as a Catholic, will disown me if I convert, and I
therefore need to justify all the time I spend in church basking in the knowledge that I
I want to know what makes a person be a Christian beyond all the earth-bound rules
we have. Much to my chagrin, it appears most people choose Christianity exactly for
the earth-bound rules. The worst part of it is that everyone seems to think that God
wants us to follow these earth-bound rules. My honest opinion is that we can't
control ourselves when it comes to pleasures of the flesh (anything from shouting
curse words to sleeping with the neighbor's wife) and therefore have to resort to
some sort of watchdog book that remains a constant reminder of our sins.
I am certain that these guilt emotions that come with morally questionable actions
also come to those people who are not religious or even spiritual. Some might argue
that it is God's hand massaging some ethics into our spirits, but if that is the case
then why do we need religion at all? For the weak? Or for the lackers of faith?
Obviously these questions are not only applicable to people of the Christian faith, but
followers of all religions. Naturally, the Christians will get the bashing here because
they've been out marketing eternal paradise since long before Christ's birth and
simply deserve a good rubbing. As far as I am concerned, this place is a paradise
and any promising of no sorrows, full bellies, and happy hearts is a waste of my
Now, if all these advertisers for heaven had ever been riding across the deserts of
Oregon or through the ranches of Eastern Washington, they'd know better than to try
to impress us with glass lakes and golden streets.
Besides, I don't think Dunlop makes tires for golden streets.
[COLOR=royal blue]** Pictures for the following segment are here. ~ cRAsH **[/COLOR]
The next days were spent in a sea of BMWs and tents in Redmond Oregon: Home
to this year's National BMW Owners' Association Rally. I was somewhat comforted
to see that even doctors and lawyers are riding beemers. Naturally, they drug them
to the rally on a trailer that had a matching paintjob to either their RV or their bike and
then rolled them around the parking lot as far as the washing center, then entered
them in the bike show and watched them like guard dogs should an unsuspecting
viewer attempt to leave fingerprints upon the new wax job.
The GSers were noticeable because the vast majority of them 1. Had dirty bikes
and 2. Never made an attempt to wash them.
Wandering around the tent city brought me to further contemplation about riding,
which brought me to further contemplation about the meaning of life and the
definition of all the words involved in such a phrase. Only I think the meaning of life
is completely devoid and avoiding of definition. It should remain so as one person's
definition will not be the same as anyone else's. This is kindergarten theory, so I
The idea is an attempt at understanding why people ride. There is a statement that
goes: If you have to ask, you wouldn't understand anyway. We will apply this in the
question of why people ride. The only thing I can compare it to in my life is running.
But if one doesn't run, they can't understand it either. It's an unspoken bonding,
something our linguistic abilities cannot describe, between the self as an individual
on this planet at this time and the 'real' self. They are two completely different beings
and it may very well be an important goal to connect the two together. Maybe this
variable, the biking, the running, serves as the link between those two selves.
The one self has societal responsibilities, jobs, families, bills, trash to take out, flat
tires to repair, books to read. The other self is independent from all these things. It's
the self that comes out when your bank account is as dry as a wishing well after
seven years drought and you go shopping for those really sweet leather boots
anyway. It's the self that screams 'The world is my oyster!!!' when you are limping
down the sidewalk because you just caught your toe on the curb while jogging
carelessly (something I experience on a regular basis, mind you). It's the self that
says 'I never have to go back to work if I don't want to' when you're riding around the
ridge of an Oregon volcano and you can see from your fingertips to the end of the
And maybe this is what the riding is about. Maybe a few people got a taste of this,
got together and made a big rally. I'd like to think that the rally started from an idea,
or some distant understanding of that concept, that knowledge. Even if it was the
first person to ever make a BMW motorcycle who wanted to spread his secret
wisdom, I'll accept it gratefully. No matter if it was twisted into some chic rally with a
bunch of people who have helmets that match their motorcycles (Moonbeem is no
exception to this vain display of bike/rider affection). At least it hasn't been made a
mys·ti·cism (m s t -s z m) n.
a. Immediate consciousness of the transcendent or ultimate reality or
b. The experience of such communion as described by mystics.
2. A belief in the existence of realities beyond perceptual or intellectual
apprehension that are central to being and directly accessible by subjective
After a few days of wandering around, comparing motorcycles, and drooling over
Jesse bags, we headed back north with a group of friends from all parts of the
country. We were a questionable pack of bikers, with Tommy and the skateboard on
his motorcycle, Moonbeam's bovine corps remnants mounted to his grill, and a chase
truck with Ray (recently separated from his GS in a most tragic tale of 'new tires')
behind the wheel and Nick on camera duty.
~~~~~~ continued... ~~~~~~~~
cRAsH screwed with this post 01-09-2002 at 11:40 PM
|01-09-2002, 10:42 PM||#3|
Joined: Jul 2001
Location: Nicetown, USA
Loose Gravel Part III
[COLOR=royal blue]** Pictures for the following segment are here ~ cRAsH **[/COLOR]
Our first day was spent on seldom-traveled roads of north-eastern Oregon (they say
that beaten paths are for beaten men), leaning into curves, losing our party, and
doing biker yoga. Biker yoga is good practice for finding 'The Zone.' It's 'practiced'
(though we hate to use such institutionalized sounding words when discussing
biking) by letting someone ride in front of you and paying close attention to their
movements and how their bike takes curves. It's especially effective if the person in
front of you is good. Naturally, one must later analyze and apply techniques to their
The Zone (and GS riders know exactly what I am talking about without further
clarification) is that fine, smooth flow that one gets while riding when senses are
tuned, the bike is tuned, and the two are in tune. We were riding in The Zone all day.
As a passenger, one has to learn to become one with the bike. It became a
meditation in a sense, feeling the bike move below me. Sometimes I thought we
were dancing. What I never thought about was work, laundry that needs to be done,
or various other materialistic goals I may have in the life of my other self. On the
bike, every moment was like a new experience, a thing to approach with wonder.
Whether it was the way the clouds moved across the sky, a snake on the side of the
road, or the view of a river in a valley: Each winding road brought us to new places,
physically and mentally, perhaps even spiritually.
I recall at camp during the last morning we had asked the ranger if he knew of any
roads around that were nice for biking. He had said there was a road that went
through a ranch but that he wouldn't even take that road in a car and most certainly
not on a bike. He said they called it a 'brake burner'. You could see all the heads of
the riders nodding in agreement to comments like 'sharp curves' and 'dangerous
corners' as if they were equally concerned. As soon as he walked away, Moonbeam
said 'What'd he say the name of that road was?'
We eventually found the road and drove through a ranch in Washington that had
more acreage than a beach has grains of sand. It was an amazing piece of land,
beautifully kept, serene and rural. The road was a private, narrow, dirt road with no
traffic that led across some plains and to the edge of a ravine. When we came out of
the wooded area and saw the land break before us, every rider stopped to soak up
The road we were on made a steep zigzag all the way down to a river that met in a Y
a few miles away. One could see the ravines stretch far in front of us in three
directions and the way the river weaved its way around like a restless animal on the
earth. We wound our way down to the water, rode along the river's edge for a few
miles, and then wound our way back up the canyon only to once again see the
winding river and broad ravines. I still have the image of dust clouds led by black
spots moving along the road below us and how the clouds seemed closer when we
got to the top.
I suspect there are many ways to achieve enlightenment in life. Some people seem
to find what they are seeking in the words of scripture, others in peyote ventures
(which seem to be frequently landing people on Jesus' doorstep: I'm sure the Church
is behind that), and yet others in science. Only these seem to me like some kind of
mass-produced enlightenments. A production band of pre-packaged understanding
that even comes with a handbook in the box. Does spiritual knowledge have to come
with a manual in six languages?
The knowledge about which one is most certain generally tends to be that which they
cannot explain. So why is it that our spirituality has become so challenged that we
are now forced to belong to groups for some sort of spiritual support? Do all these
people really have something in common? Do they really know why they have
chosen a faith? Should a faith be chosen or experienced? Does any of this matter?
When I am walking through wheat fields up to my waist and all I can hear is the soft
singing of the grain rubbing against each other in the wind, the sweet smell of harvest
surrounding me, I know that it is right and good. And for a brief moment, I'm damn
certain that I am experiencing life exactly as it was meant to be experienced. This is
why biking brings me such a richness in living: Because around every corner, and
every night around the campfire, and every herd of elk we pass is a little piece of
mysticism that is realized. And then I see that it isn't about being able to understand
it. It's about being it.
I returned to Europe with an attitude adjustment, if not as a completely new woman. I
couldn't even bear to wear anything but my flip-flops and cut-offs. Presentation had
lost it's importance. I came back to live rather than simply inhabit, to experience
rather than just be an innocent bystander.
And, of course, to buy a GS.
** If you would like to email Ammi regarding this story, she would love your feedback:
cRAsH screwed with this post 01-10-2002 at 01:00 PM
|01-09-2002, 11:21 PM||#4|
Howling "Mad", Adventurer
Joined: Aug 2001
Location: Granite Falls, Washington State, USA
A really great read, what more can be said. Thanks for sharing this two wheeled tale.
Dave, aka "Mr. Cob" Want a STEEL SKID PLATE for your Ural, contact me for details.
My photos, http://mr-cob.smugmug.com/ Help a CHEAP bastard keep his Smugmug, use this coupon ( geyYbNZwLLrl6 ) thank you.
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