What do you linger on while on a motorcycle trip? Is it the destination? The bike? The expectations? Or are you able to take in the experience moment by moment while on a trip?
Whether they are long or short, to destinations near or far, we gain something incredibly unique out of each ride we choose to take; it’s not just the odd looks from folks that think we must be crazy. Personally, I’ve always been drawn to the experiences we’re able to obtain while on a bike that so few people will ever have in their life. We can get to places that others will never see, we can smell and feel the environment as we ride. We become engulfed in the atmospheres we travel through; this experience is rare and offers something necessary for our souls.
While in a car, you have heat, AC, snacks, all the creature comforts; you separate yourself from the environment. It’s easy and it gives a false sense of safety. While on a bike you experience the good with the bad, it’s not easy at times but, as a rider, you must stay disciplined while travelling by bike. You succumb to the weather — lovely or treacherous — and you must integrate yourself within each element of riding to truly enjoy it.
When I wrote about my love for maps in the November/December issue I was elated to see so many comments from like-minded people still in love with maps. I was even more ecstatic when Max Burns reached out about the article. I remember meeting Max when I was young and although I hadn’t read his books at the time, I remember this sense of weirdness and wisdom that exuded from him. I recently revisited his book On Any Wednesday and soon found myself reading words that rang true to my views of motorcycle travel throughout the pages.
We work so hard to find places to ride to, but in the end, it’s never about the destination. In Max’s words, “Destinations are artificial limits established by humanity. They don’t exist naturally.”
We create them to limit ourselves and stop ourselves from further succeeding the limits of a trip. Sure, a destination is great and necessary at times, but what if the greatest unknown is just ahead of your set destination? What if it’s not? Maybe riding just a bit further allows you to have an epiphany.
Often while travelling, especially across the country, I’ll hit a wall; not a literal wall, thank goodness. But a wall that makes me want the destination to be within arm’s reach. Something happens, normally two days in, when I just want it to end. Luckily this doesn’t last for long and I stop dwelling on the end and focus on the moment I’m in while on the road. I’ve noticed throughout the years that one of my favourite moments while travelling is being an observer as I ride through towns.
Sure, you get noticed from town to town — you’re a motorcyclist, after all. But you can take the time to be still and observe people, see how others live, sense their daily activities, and see the joy that others take from life, all while being a passerby. It’s an incredible feeling, to step outside of yourself. Then get on your bike and ride away — noticed, but never really seen. You become a faint glimpse within someone’s day, a ghost in their life.
“When confronted by discovery, travel transcends from mere passage to the excitement, just as the gathering of knowledge is far more entertaining than the simple possession of it.” Max states, “Neither knowledge nor roads own a destination. When knowledge works as it should, the more we learn, the more we realize we don’t know. Each fact inevitably yielding more questions than answers.”
Each road, trail, or goat path we take by bike allows us to find something new about ourselves. We can not only explore in a way so few will ever experience, but during that time we often find ourselves in a meditative state where we can explore ourselves and come to realizations we may or may not have expected to come to. Each turn offers us something new to find in ourselves through nature.
Whatever you choose to linger on while on a trip this year, don’t let it be the destination. Find enjoyment in the small things you experience, knowing that no one else will have that same shared impression of that moment. Sometimes we won’t get the pictures of the most amazing scenes we had while riding, but maybe that picture was only meant for you and no one else. Each moment we experience while on a bike is truly unique; sometimes things so special aren’t meant for everyone. One last note: if you haven’t, go and read a Max Burns book.