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Old 07-03-2006, 03:57 PM   #1
Bonneville54 OP
I am the World
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Joined: Nov 2001
Location: Grass Valley, CA
Oddometer: 415
To move is to feel

We are all familiar with the effects of centrifugal force. We feel it every time we accelerate, every time we lean into a curve. We feel a force pushing on us as we accelerate or pushing us to the outside of curve. It is sometimes referred to as the “fictitious force” because it is present only in an accelerated object and does not exist at rest.

You have to ride to feel it. Only when you speed up or change direction does one feel it.

I like that.

Enter Ernst Mach – an Austrian philosopher and physicist whose ideas were later to influence Einstein. It was Mach’s work with shock waves associated with projectiles moving through the air that the numbers naming speed were named after him; Mach 1 for the speed of sound, Mach 2 for twice the speed of sound and so on. Mach proposed (Mach’s Principal) that inertia – that force we feel – is caused by the interaction of an object “with all other matter in the universe”. All motion is relative. I like that idea too.

Now, it was my exposure to the Episcopalian faith at an early age and my time as an altar boy that pretty much ruined me for organized religion. Now when I need salvation and redemption, I ride the motorcycle. This is where my middle years speak to me and it is in these years I stopped going for a ride and became a rider. I think sometimes, in these middle years, the appreciation for the “fictitious force” is heightened and one understands, ever so subtly, just what Mach was getting at.

The great thing about motorcycling is there does not seem to be a long practice, no zazen, no great amount of work needed to reach this place of understanding. Some seem to get it right away and for some, like me, it takes a few years more. But if you like motorcycling, there will come a time when you’ll want to penetrate the heart of it.

There are detours, wayward paths one can travel on this road to the heart of the motorcycle. I am a re-entry rider, loosely defined as a rider with a large space between rides and in my case the space spanned thirty years. The first years of re-entry were filled with both bliss and anxiety on almost every ride. I asked a lot of questions that now seem so irrelevant to the heart of the ride. Some of the questions I asked before each ride (and still ask) were pragmatic; “Have I checked the oil level? The tire pressure? The battery? The coolant? Other questions now seem fatuous in nature; How many miles will I ride today? Do I have my GPS, Valentine, FRS? Have I filled my log? When meeting other riders, I lusted after their bikes, wondering if that one or this one would better fit me, whether that one or this one was faster. Had less problems? Was prettier? Was my gear the smartest? The safest? Was my seat the most comfortable? Is the weather perfect? Would the roads be smooth? Howell Raines, in his wonderful book Fly Fishing Through the Midlife Crisis, writes about a similar anxiety by the virtue of silly questions about upcoming fishing trips… “I had made my hobby into work”

At some point I stopped asking the questions with no meaning. I stopped asking which motorcycle was better because I know the best motorcycle for me is the one I’m riding now. Often, I leave the gadgets at home and the accumulation of miles for miles sake has ceased. When I stopped thinking about the motorcycle and started feeling the ride and the road I found the path to the heart of motorcycling to be a short one. A ride understood by one who understands it not.

Interestingly enough, it turns out to be faster trip with heated grips.
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Old 07-03-2006, 06:01 PM   #2
Self Imposed Exile
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Joined: Jan 2006
Location: NA
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Thanks for taking the time to post this. I liked it.
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Old 07-03-2006, 06:25 PM   #3
Right Turn Clyde
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Joined: Sep 2005
Location: Bridgerland by Green Canyon
Oddometer: 841
Should a guy be ruined on that "fictitious force" because he grew up riding with jerks, or bikers who only know upright, straight-laced riding?

The force, joy, reason and inspiration behind both the church and riding can be readily screwed up for us by others (a few of which are even well meaning). But the wonder of each still awaits us.

Good post.

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