Thursday, January 18, 2007

Oh Yeah, The Great Outdoors

The number one question I get asked about commuting (and riding in general) is some variation of: "Don't you get cold?" During the summer, I get asked if I get hot. I always get asked what I do when it rains.

Yes, I get cold / hot / wet / dry / itchy / bored / excited / scared / thrilled / angry / amused. Depending on how long the ride is, I can enjoy all of those conditions between stops for gas. It's pretty neat what happens outside of our voluntary containment in hermetically sealed boxes (some of which roll around and help us carry our coffee-like beverages).

Recently I got caught in the rain on my way home from work. Thankfully it wasn't terribly cold out, and I got home soggy but safe and happy. It was one of the best rides I've ever had. To be honest, I like getting rained on.

Similarly, riding in the cold is uncomfortable, but exhilarating. It only takes a few minutes to get used to the cold (granted, those few minutes are torture. I hate being cold.) and, provided your clothing choices were appropriate, being outdoors is always better than looking out a window.

I've found being outside is far preferable to sitting inside in a climate-controlled room. "Constant" might be reassuring and "safe", but it's also dreadfully boring. The boredom makes it nigh-impossible for me to stay awake in a car (or classroom, or cubicle, or...) for any length of time.

Rain is real. Wind is real. Cold is real. Heat is real.

Room temperature? Not real.

Riding, for all its discomfort and occasional danger, is real. Riding distills everything great, and terrible, about life into a heady and addictive elixir. The difference between riding a motorcycle and travelling by car is like the difference between eating a fresh apple and sitting down to a bowl of canned peas.

So sure, some mornings my fingers hurt from the cold, but I wouldn't trade the ride for a lifetime of cozy fingers and coffee-drinks.


gary said...

That was an inspired post!

So much of our consumer culture in this country is all about denying or defying reality. But when you become a Rider, you welcome reality back into your life and learn to appreciate it's myriad stimuli.

You become de-numbed, like taking the red pill in "The Matrix".

I enjoyed reading this. Thanks.

Ride well,

Lucky said...

Thanks Gary.

Now if only we could find a way to de-numb more people.

Life is pretty nifty for those who notice. :)

Steve Williams said...

I second motion that this is an inspired post. You've identified a riding truth that is lost to most people.

I get asked the same questions and feel much the same as you do. I even ask myself at times when I am on the road and my hands are numb and no warmth is in sight why I am still happy. Exhilaration, anti-boredom, its all there in your post.

It's 25 degrees F right now and after I down this piece of lasagna in front of me I am going to head out for a ride knowing my hands will be hurting when I get home.

Wouldn't pass it up though because the rides are great.

Biker Betty said...

As motorcyclists, we accept that there will be times when we are cold/hot/numb. I don't even think about it, it just a fact. I just love being on the motorcycle and getting around. Pure bliss :)

Combatscoot said...

I feel the same way about my work. I didn't know what I was getting myself into when I left home and went to the Air Force, but I came to really appreciate getting outside in the elements to fix airplanes. Every job I have worked-at since has had some element of outdoorness and fixing mechanical devices. Now, I want to be an HVAC (heating and air conditioning)tech when I grow-up. The only sucky thing about that is the potential for commuting to work in the company truck. I am hoping to get a job with a school system, which means I can at least ride the scoot to the shop before enveloping myself in the comfort of a maintenance truck.

Fairings said...

Riding is surely a pure bliss!

Homedecors said...

Inspiring. That's good about riding.