Threw my leg over the warmed up Harley at 6:30 a.m. this morning. Kissed Boo goodbye and told her I’ll be back in two weeks. Worked my way on the backroads down to 212 West through Montevideo in the cool of the early morning hours and headed West. Had lunch with a young cop buddy I met a few years ago in Redfield, South Dakota. Just sitting in the park on a bench, munching a sandwich and talking about work and motorcycles. He loves to hear the old stories, and at my age, its all I have left. Now its 2:00 p.m. and I’m cruising West on 14 through the rolling South Dakota prairies. Keeping the bike at 60, I’m in no hurry.
The sunlight warm on my face, the dry wind blowing through my hair, the clock turns back and I feel 40 again. The sun casting cloud shadows on the prairie to my right, teasing me, urging me to kick the bike in the ass and race them, but I don’t. Tried that years ago, they always win. I laugh at them, and they race away, disappearing over the hills ahead. A herd of antelope suddenly appear on my left, loping along inside the fence line, I wave, but they don’t wave back, suddenly veering off down a dry grassy coulee, and disappearing from sight. The good rich smell of hot engine oil comes and goes with the breeze, the Harley has settled into a steady rhythm and the deep throated exhaust mutters along behind me. I haven’t seen another vehicle in about an hour. the last one a truck load of young girls, giggling and daring each other to wave at the biker. In my leathers, and behind the shades and dew rag, and from a distance, I probably look a bit exotic. Boy, would they be disappointed! But now, its just me and the ribbon of road, stretching out ahead of me, winding through the hills and out of sight. Beckoning and promising adventure, somewhere up ahead. Just the way you like it when you want to be alone for a while with your thoughts and just enjoy being alive.
I’ll cruise down, arcing to the South to pick up I-90 West, with a pause for the cause and a cold drink at Vivian. Maybe talk to some other bikers. On a bike, you’re never without new friends when you want them. Eager to swap stories, talk about weather ahead, and enjoy being part of a family, ever ready to stop and help a fellow biker, or share a beer and a laugh about the things we’ve all seen and done on the road. If you’re ever in trouble, call a cop. But if you’re ever in real trouble, call a biker.
I’ll pass through the Buffalo Grasslands and Rapid City, then on up to Sturgis which is just starting to wake up with the Rally just a few weeks away. Then over to Deadwood before picking up 14 to roll through the curves down through Spearfish Canyon to the Spearfish Canyon Lodge for a relaxing late supper. Spearfish Canyon, a spiritual place where God himself must ride a motorcycle on warm Summer days, with the soft, fragrant scent of pine everywhere and the gurgle and splash of Spearfish Creek to keep him, and all the bikers who come here, company.
I take a deep breath, its really good to be here, on the bike headed West. Suddenly, I hear a familiar voice, calling to me. I blink and the prairie fades away. “Hey, I said, are you alright?” Its, Boo, down below me, as I stand on a ladder, propped against the side of the house. My hands are sunk to the wrists in foul smelling glop in the storm gutter. I blink and look down at her. “I said, are you okay? You’ve been standing there motionless for almost ten minutes, just staring straight ahead. I thought you’d had a stroke. Jeez, you scared the crap out of me, you dopey old bastard!”
I clear my throat and drag more glop out of the gutter, tossing it into the bucket tied to my ladder. “No, I’m okay, I was just thinking about something and got caught up in it.” I can sit down with a home brew and tell her about it later. She’ll understand. She’s a biker, like me. She’s rolled the curves through Spearfish Canyon, smelling those pines, and has sat in the warm sunlight, with her feet in the cold, clear water of the creek on many occasions. I’ll finish my task, and then maybe open that homebrew and clean the bike, and maybe the dream will come back and I’ll make the Lodge by early evening, to sit and have a bite to eat and a cold beer before heading to my room and a nice soft bed.
Some people ask me, “Aren’t you scared, riding a motorcycle around like that?” No, I’m not. But the plain and simple truth of it is that what scares me, what really scares the living hell out of me, is what happens when I can’t ride a motorcycle around like that anymore.
What did Frost say? I have miles to go before I sleep.
Author: Jim Fleming (Jafrum.com Customer)