RoadRUNNER Zen Motorcyclist

On Being Led

Jul 28, 2013 View Comments by

On Being LedLast week I wrote about leading rides and its challenges and rewards. This week I thought I’d write about what being led feels like. During the Touring Weekend my new friend Ken and I led the leisure group on the northern loop. It was a lot of fun and a long day in the sun; yet when we arrived back at the campground we still had two hours to kill before dinner. Ken had mentioned being ready and willing to show us some more local roads anytime we liked, so as only true lovers of riding can do after eight hours in the saddle I said, “wanna go for a ride?” Ken’s response: “dirt or pavement?” and we were off.

I like leading because I love people and I’m a natural caretaker; but that night, chasing Ken through the mountains surrounding Maggie Valley I learned that following can be a rush too. I can’t remember having had so much fun riding. I had no idea where we were headed or for how long. I had no idea how sharp the turns ahead were or where the obstacles might be, I keyed off of Ken’s speed and counted on him pointing out anything I needed to be aware of. I have a vivid recollection of the smile I couldn’t wipe from my face. We were flying, hard on the throttle, hard on the brakes, dodging gravel and trees, and at one point sliding the rear end as we came upon a utility truck stopped on a blind turn. I remember at one point Ken picking leaves from his helmet as we ducked under low lying branches.

We reached a mountain summit after a long series of steep hairpins and we pulled off to the side of the road. Ken said “ok, shut off your engine”… “huh, why?” I responded. “We’re gonna coast race”, he said. “Oh, ok”. I’d never done it before but for what seemed like 10 minutes we just coasted down the mountain around more hairpin turns racing silently and engine-less. I’ll admit that in the beginning I was a bit timid and unsure, not having the use of the throttle to work against the brakes; but after a few minutes I started loving it and trying to use the weight of my V-Strom to catch Ken on his KLR.

I gave no thought to the 200 miles we’d already ridden or how tired I was. I thought only of the next turn and the one after that and of not letting him get too far ahead. Sometimes adventure is just realizing the moment while it’s happening. Eventually Ken gave me the sign to start ‘em up again and we rode on around a peaceful lake and back home to Maggie Valley as the sun began to set.

That evening, with the ever present threat of a storm and after a long hot, fulfilling day leading, I got to put all the concerns and stress of navigation aside and, for a glorious hour, tear across the countryside with my only concern being to fill myself up with as much joy as I could physically hold. I’m easy to please and honest emotion does it every time. From now on whenever anyone asks if I’d like to see some local roads, my answer will always be an emphatic “yes please.” You never know when an impromptu ride will settle in your soul.

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About the author

I have been motorcycle commuting since 1998. I created Zen Motorcyclist (formerly Commuting Motorcyclist) in 2011 and work as a motojournalist, software developer, CAD designer and IT/CAD manager in the Surveying and Civil Engineering field.