RoadRUNNER Zen Motorcyclist

The Romance of Riding

Dec 01, 2013 View Comments by

The Romance of RidingA comment on last week’s post contained a quote that led me to do some reading about President Theodore Roosevelt. In 1883, at just 24 years old, near sighted and asthmatic he set foot, for the first time, in the American West to hunt buffalo. As the story goes he endured horrible weather to pursue his passion and in the process fell in love with the West. In 1884, however, he lost both his mother and wife within hours of each other and the land he loved became his refuge from despair. He was quoted later as saying “here the romance of my life began.”

Roosevelt, it seems, worked through his grief amidst the “…deathless and measureless expanse…” of the West. It occurred to me that we all have our “West.” I can pinpoint when the romance of my life began. It was on the first long solo ride I ever took a few years ago. I used to do a lot of running and I think I did that to some degree in order to escape things; but when I started riding I had a different feeling. It was as though I’d stopped trying to outrun things and had finally decided to let them catch up and be dealt with. Of course, once you stop running real change can occur, old wounds can heal, and progress (and romance) can occur.

It’s a common phenomenon among motorcyclists in my experience. Cori and I have met a lot of people who’ve opened up and shared things over a ride and a meal that have surprised us in their honesty. Everyone has old wounds, that’s no surprise. The surprise is how quickly people feel at ease with each other simply by virtue of riding similar machines. For some the impetus is love, some loss, some passion, and some adventure.

The reasons are less important than the connections we make together. A hint of sadness, some bitterness, longing, and loss, but all shared and lessened in that sharing. No matter the reason it’s always a joy to be a part of the romance of riding.


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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.