Road trips are a huge part of being a biker. Not the Sunday-afternoon-bar-hopping-with-friends kind, although those are equally important, but the pack-your-shit-and-grab-a-sleeping-bag kind that are part of a process that the normals don’t understand. The spiritual quest that’s sometimes necessary to set a rider right with the world is the type of sojourn that doesn’t require company or conversation, just a direction. Sometimes, even the direction isn’t relevant. I love life on the back roads with knees in the breeze, and the longer I’m out there the happier I am, the less I want to be around people, and after it was recently suggested that maybe I can’t be content in one place anymore, I found myself questioning how I fit in the regular world.
I love riding so much that I just don’t want to stop at the end of the day and I know that this part of the affliction isn’t really rare. We all love our wind time. For me, I spend my time out in the world consumed by a desire to absorb everything around me. As I assume it is for everyone, sightseeing is a favorite pastime. While I make my way from town to town, deadline to deadline, state to state, I’m especially fond of spying animals like razorbacks in Arkansas, raptors on the wing crossing the deserts, or chevrons of Canadian geese migrating along the coast of Northern California. Watching bald eagles fishing from the Columbia Gorge in Oregon early in the cool mornings as I head to Sturgis is always spine tingling. In the predawn of a Big Sky morning I heard elk bugle above the sound of my engine through the mountain passes once, and later the same day, watched big horn sheep teeter on cliffs while I raced storm clouds into the setting sun. Wyoming antelope do indeed play with deer in the spans of wide-open fields, and America’s buffalo still roam. These are the glorious sights and sounds that consume the good days on the road, right along with the not-so-good days of battling insane drivers, wretched weather and mechanical malfunctions. It isn’t always euphoria, but it is always an adventure—and it’s what feeds my soul.
Thanks to the use of at-pump plastic, I can go all day and never speak to another human being and I’m good with that. Communicating with others is only a problem when you drop your kickstand so I tend to stay upright as much as possible and avoid interacting unless absolutely necessary. Spending a great deal of time inside my own head and isolated, I didn’t realize until recently that maybe that’s not such a good thing. It’s not like I hate humans or anything, it’s just that I don’t typically spend a lot of time interacting and tend to tune out the world. I don’t watch television or listen to the radio, either. When touching down, I’m discovering that stepping back into the rat race can take a bit of adjusting, so I’ve set myself up with a challenge that I think will prove to flex my social skills and nudge me into some personal growth in the process.
The project outline I’ve been discussing with friends has been met with a wide range of feedback. Some think this will be an easy, no-big-deal thing since they assume I’m exposed to people all the time. Some think it will be a very hard thing to do, and there are a handful who know my loner traits so well they’re certain I can’t do it at all.
Starting on my birthday, May 15, I will have begun posting a new image daily of a stranger with whom I’ll have an interaction to include a conversation and, obviously, a photograph. I will do this every day for 365 days at www.thunderpressed.wpengine.com. There will be text to accompany the image, and hopefully it will be of interest to you, the viewer. I’ve tried not to set too many rules so as to avoid setting myself up for failure, but it all comes down to forcing the issue of shyness, stepping out of the comfort of my own self-imposed isolation, and viewing the world through a different set of eyes. In the process, maybe I’ll get a glimpse of how the world perceives me, too.