When you really think about it, it seems absurd; compress fossil fuel and air in a chamber, ignite it with a spark and have the explosion drive the compressing piston down the cylinder as it turns a crankshaft with it’s connecting rod at an average of one hundred explosions per second. Not to mention intake and exhaust valve action, especially when there are four per cylinder.
Even more absurd is what’s done with the power generated from internal combustion. Several years ago I demonstrated that to my current spouse riding pillion on my Blackbird and when I hit second gear at eighty miles per hour I almost changed my marital status again in the three seconds it took us to hit the century.
I’ve been without this power since last November when I sold this machine, believing I could leave all things motorcycle behind and the risks that go along with them. But, I was ignorant to the risk I was taking in selling the bike, and that was my own internal combustion. See, ever since it rolled away from me I thought I might explode.
I tried to convince myself that my motorcycle was just a machine. Besides, I had another, more powerful, more comfortable, to take its place, but it never hit that release valve, that fail-safe switch in me that takes perspective and turns it 20/20. Even though it was topless, it was still compressing regardless of what it did to corners or how it responded to throttle input. It was still a cage.
I was on Hell’s Backbone a couple of weekends ago, having since repurchased the Blackbird, on Highway 12, riding up the Grand Staircase where I admitted perhaps the overriding absurdity of my living; my experience with this motorcycle was more than the sum of its parts. I was liberated, from what I can’t really narrow down, but the experience was spiritual, centering, cleansing, escaping, zen.
There’s no frame through which I see on this ride. My vision is limited only by smashed insects. There are no side air bags, no five mile-per-hour bumpers. Just ahead of my grip is the road passing beneath me, three hundred sixty degrees around. It’s the closest I’ll ever come to flying especially reaching terminal velocity in half the amount of time it takes gravity to do so while actually feeling the coefficient of drag kick in.
While there’s still some insulation, a helmet, armor mesh, gloves and boots, the feeling is as close as I’ll ever get to being one with context. For the record, I hope I never get closer, this is close enough, thanks. But, it’s been in this proximity where my internal combustion has desisted, acquiescing to the eleven hundred cc’s of the machine beneath me.