RoadRUNNER Zen Motorcyclist

Riding in the New Year: The Snail and Gazelle

Jan 05, 2014 View Comments by

Riding in the New Year: The Snail and GazelleI attempt to get out and ride on every New Year’s Day. Some years it’s just not possible but this year it was dry and in the mid 30s, which is rare here in the northeast in January, so I was glad I could head out for a comfortable first ride. I don’t tend to make New Year’s resolutions; a calendar always seemed like an arbitrary and meaningless thing to try and decide to change your life around. That said, the New Year’s Day ride is a perfect occasion to remember the past year and to think ahead to the coming one.

My favorite book is John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany. It was made into a film called Simon Birch. Even though it only loosely resembles the book, it is still one of my favorite movies. There’s a line delivered by Jim Carrey that has always resonated with me: Time is a monster that cannot be reasoned with. It responds like a snail to our impatience, then it races like a gazelle when you can’t catch a breath. Many of us have to suffer the snail in winter and then try and keep pace with the gazelle in summer.

My daughter Devon gave me a unique gift for the holidays, a leather-bound journal filled with parchment paper with an intricate brass clasp. It looks like it came right from the set of the Lord of the Rings. When she gave it to me I thought of that line about time from Simon Birch. I wished instantly that I’d had it forever, that it was gnarled, weathered, soft and filled with my handwriting; but it doesn’t work that way. The monster won’t allow it and can’t be reasoned with.

There’s always a first ride of the year, arbitrary though it may be, and the mind automatically thinks ahead when the calendar changes. As I rode along I looked forward to a lot in coming year: seeing friends at RoadRUNNER’s Touring Weekend this July in West Virginia; taking a photography course with Cori this winter and riding two-up with her in summer; making friends out on the road; a 300 mile off-road ride I may attempt next November; getting myself lost and finding my way home. I especially looked forward to filling my journal with all those experiences and with new ideas and remembrances as the monster allows. See you on the road in 2014.


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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.