RoadRUNNER Zen Motorcyclist

Zen Motorcyclist: New Additions

Jan 10, 2019 View Comments by

Zen Motorcyclist

A few years ago I wrote a column titled Four Legs, Two Wheels and a Grateful Heart (July/Aug ’15), in which I spoke of a new motorcycle and a new housemate (my dog Spud) that both came to me during a time when I was broken, physically and emotionally. Each served to help get me back on my feet.

Spud and I have lived together for the nearly four years since, and I’ve often toyed with the thought of adopting a companion for him, given that I spend a lot of time at work or on the road. A puppy, perhaps, I said to myself usually, or maybe a kitten. Something small, at any rate. Little did I know I’d end up with quite the opposite…

At about the same time I started thinking seriously about owning another pet, I began looking for a second motorcycle. I love my Street Triple. It’s a bike that seems to know where you want it to go. But this time I wanted another kind of motorcycle. Something a bit more classic, that growls and is low and more suitable to two-up riding. I didn’t realize it at the time, but in retrospect both searches were an attempt at healing from a trauma I didn’t even know I was experiencing but have recently come to recognize. Something too personal for these pages, but which many suffer through, like I did, in silence.

At a recent Yoga class sponsored by Peaceable Kingdom, a local pet rescue, my dear friend Kristin who volunteers there brought along a 10-year-old deaf Pit Bull-Boxer mix. Cyrus made sure he met (and licked) every person in class. His infectious personality, sleepy, hang-dog face, and comically pointed ears made everyone who met him smile. I left class not entertaining the thought of adopting Cy. But in the days that followed, the old man’s happiness and need for a home tugged at me. Me, care for an older, special needs dog? I thought … but with Kristin’s patient help, Spud and I first fostered and later adopted him.

My bike search I can only describe as similar in some ways to finding the right partner or home. I wanted something that felt right, that fit—chemistry, I guess you’d call it. I considered everything from every era of motorcycles: café racers, cruisers, adventure bikes. What caught my eye again and again was the Triumph Bonneville. I kept picturing some future couples-weekend getaway to the mountains on the stylish modern classic.

I scoured the web for Bonnies and found several possibilities a few hours’ ride from home, so on a ferociously hot day my friend Bob Walden and I set off to check them out. As it happened I found a 2012 T100 so clean and well-kept you’d swear it was brand new. I also made a friend in the bike’s owner, John, who was selling it to make room for a new FJR1300. John tossed me the keys and I’ll admit I nearly got lost during my test drive, I was having so much fun riding a bike unlike any other I’d ever ridden. The aftermarket pipes made the parallel twin growl. The Bonnie seems to express my emotions: when I’m calm she purrs, when I’m annoyed she snarls.

That initial ride reminded me of a first date where you can’t stop smiling and where a meeting for coffee becomes lunch and then a walk, and soon after, a romance that grows with patience, understanding and passion. Since I purchased the Bonneville I’ve found that it draws people to it the same way Cyrus does. Strangers pull over and smile and tell me with pride about having owned one in the past. Both of my new additions attract attention, put smiles on the faces of strangers, and each has made me countless new friends. The Bonneville is a salve for me, while Cyrus is a salve for every living thing he meets. If we all greeted each other the way this deaf old man greets others, the world would be a better place. My world certainly is.

So, I’m learning some dog sign language and starting each day with a laugh as I see Cy’s droopy face appear at my bedside every morning. I’m also finding peace by expressing myself with each twist of the throttle on a new motorcycle. Each of my new additions is helping me heal: one with laughter and the other, like a silent therapist, by mirroring my moods without judgement. The Bonnie is proof that if you identify exactly what it is you are looking for, you can often find it. Cy, on the other hand, is proof that quite often love happens when you aren’t really looking, and that no matter your age or needs, it’s never too late to find a home.

“Your heart and my heart are very old friends.” —Hafiz

Tags: , Categories: Chronicles, Zen Motorcyclist