Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, SouthDakota, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois… 6 days… 3045 miles! One of life’s little adventures. Why?
I really enjoy long motorcycle rides. And I don’t typically mind going by myself. But why? I could tell you about the sights I’ve seen and the fun of zig zagging a 900 lb. bike through mountain passes. Or, I could tell you stories about the interesting characters I’ve met because a lot of people like to talk to motorcycle riders. Here are some even better reasons.
Physical Challenge – It is a challenge to keep your head in the game after 10 hours in the saddle. It is physically draining. The heat, or sometimes the cold is a challenge. When I’ve ridden 500 + miles, I feel like I’ve done something. My 56 year old body aches, but in a good way. At the end of the day I sleep well. Believe it or not, the next morning, I am usually ready to do do it again!
Life in the Moment – I usually have a goal, or a general route planned. But there are no guarantees. Weather always plays a role. You either wait, ride around it, or ride through it. I’ve done all three. I always have a destination, but most of the time can’t worry about it. When riding a bike, you have to be where you are. One has to watch the road and surroundings. Every curve in the road demands your attention. Every car, deer, shredded truck tire and “tar-snake” is a potential problem (tar-snakes are the squiggly patches of tar they use for filling cracks in the road. They are very slippery especially in turns). The point is the end-goal for the day doesn’t matter if you don’t pay attention to now!
Time for Reflection – With all this going on, there is still a lot of time to think. I think about God, the gospel, the church and Scripture. I refine my theology. I argue with people I’ve read on Twitter or Facebook that morning. I think about my family, my love for them and their love for me. I think about the world and what God is doing in it and for it. I look at creation and I wonder about God. Sometimes I pray – especially when I see familiar names that make me think about people in my life. I’ve seen each of my sons’ names on street signs, or billboards. Last week I prayed for the Christian leader Alan Hirsch because I saw Hirsch Road and he was the only Hirsch I could think of. With this Coke bottle, it was my brother, Scott.
Spiritual Presence – This one is hard to describe, but I’ll try. I usually wake up at 5 am. I call my wife to greet her for the day. I get dressed, load the bike and hit the road. After a few hours, I stop for breakfast. I ride more, usually skipping lunch. At the end of the day, I find a place to stay, if I haven’t arranged something at one of my gas stops. At the end of the day I find a place for dinner. Then I get back to my room and call my wife and tell her goodnight. I fall asleep – hard. Through all of this, I am constantly aware of God’s presence with me. Sometimes we talk. Sometimes we just sit with each other. But I know I am not alone. And actually, my aloneness makes His presence more of a reality. That may sound strange. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt lonely while on one of my rides. Oh, I’ve missed home and missed my Bride but that’s different than feeling lonely.
Dependence – This may be one of the biggest challenges for me. It may seem like going by myself on these trips is a statement of my independence. It is just the opposite. These trips force me to be dependent. I am forced to look for help! People have rescued me from dangerous weather. Someone helped me pick up my bike when I dropped it in a parking lot. I’ve received helpful road suggestions and corrections. Strangers have pointed me to sights I just couldn’t miss. One guy summoned a tow truck for me, while another just sat on the side of the road with me while I waited. Others just give me a little chat while waiting for the restroom. Most of all, I am dependent on the Lord for providing whatever I will need along the way. I need His protection every time I straddle that thing. And I know this.
I thank my wife for her encouragement in taking these journeys. I hope I come home a little better person for taking the journey.
Be sure to subscribe! These posts are no longer posted automatically to Facebook.