Motorcycles and Photography

I am ready for spring. Planning for this summer's destination and conversations about riding have made me ache to get on the bike.

Ache. Yearn. Desire.

I say in the girlie chat that I LOVE my bike, and people type in a polite "lol", but it's true, I do. Or rather I love what the bike brings to the table. Challenge. Adventure. Spontaneity. The excuse to wear black leather even in the middle of summer. The return of my former self, fierce and fearless, even if only for an hour or two.

Everything else falls away when I ride. I have no room in my head for the everyday mundane bullshit of life when the pavement is blurring past at 100 km/h, only inches from my foot.

So I let it go. And it's always an eye opener to see what's left.

And I love the bike for where it takes me. Riding is rarely about the destination, but is always about the journey; just going out for lunch can take all day. The shortest distance between two points on a map is shunned; it's the squiggly, curvy lines that invite the two wheels to play. More often than not, maps are used less as a guide to where I am going and more of a tool to find out where the hell I am once I've gotten myself lost misplaced. I know some people that ride with very specific routes already mapped out. I am not one of them. I'm more of a "hmm, where does this road go" kind of traveler.

While I'm not a camera geek with major equipment when traveling, I do try and take thoughtful photographs. I look at photographs as a memory trigger, but not in an I-was-here way. You will rarely find a shot of me in the "this is me/us in front of the _______" style of travel photography. Rather, the conversation around each picture is more along the lines of "this is where I/we _______".

I've set up a Flickr account to share some of my photos, but really more as online storage - nothing like the near-failure of a back-up hard drive to make one look at redundant redundancies for that which can't be replaced. And while going through what I think are some of the better ones, I am constantly distracted by the memories.

This is my favourite photo, taken at the end of a too-long and too-hot day. We were heading into the setting sun, and both were suffering from headaches and dehydration while we pressed on to try and make Kayenta by nightfall. I saw this framed in my rear view mirror and stopped to take this. I can still remember how the red dust tasted in my mouth and how silent it was. After the photo and a brief conversation ("This sucks." "Aye."), we decided that enough was enough, and headed back to Mexican Hat. While we stayed in the worst motel in America, we had one of the best steak dinners ever.

This is a dark and dismal photo of Cornerbrook, to be sure. But I always get a feeling of relief when see this. It had been my first day on the Rock, where I found that water-resistant is not the same as water-proof when it comes to bike gear. It pissed rain - all I wanted was to be dry and warm again. I also remember how exultant I was when I took that photo, as that was the day where I learned that I can, if necessary, ride in the rain, through the gravel of road work, for 150 kms, with a broken clutch cable.

This is my favourite picture of myself. We were on an overnight shakedown trip, testing out some new camping gear before our big trip to the Gaspe Peninsula. We had stopped in a little town on the shores of Lake Huron on a perfect, sunny day for gas and ice cream. Ice cream is important on a perfect, sunny day. Hunny Bunny had gone in to a bank, and I was sitting on the curb in the shade waiting for him when I caught sight of my distorted reflections in the chrome of engine parts. It's always struck me as a good analogy for all the me's that live in this body: the me I am to my husband, to friends, to family, to students, to co-workers; all different and none reflecting what I think is the true me.

You know what they say, every picture tells a story. Some make me laugh, some sad and nostalgic, some make me feel very grateful for being in the right place at the right time with the right people. I've given myself a writing challenge/exercise for my March break, to pick a photo each day and write about it. For those who have looked at my pictures, I'm open to suggestions on which photos to use. Who knows, I might even bore you by posting some of them here.

1 Responses to “Motorcycles and Photography”

  1. # Blogger Mike

    I fully concur with this your post here. It was even interestingly timed, as I just resurrected my pretty blue friend this morning from its winter hibernation.

    I'm moving from Pittsburgh to Georgia in about a week and a half, and I think what has me the most excited is year-round motorcycle fun. I'm going to be living pretty much in the middle of nowhere, too, so that promises for some interesting roads.

    Mike (aka ISS Spock)  

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