Cycle Therapy

By Al Carlos Hernandez on January 31, 2011

Three hours a week, ride it like you stole it

SAN FRANCISCO (Herald de Paris) – Most people who do not ride motorcycles believe that bikes are very dangerous and you have to be crazy to motor around at freeway speeds competing, side by side, wheel to wheel with situationally ambivalent auto pilots. Some think it unconscionable to be rolling 65 mph while face to face with Mommy vans and 18 wheeler trucks while on two thin rubber wheels, going mirror to mirror in rush hour traffic. But there is freedom in valorously mastering your own fate.

Our country has a rich tradition of vaqueros who taught the early cowboys how to ride horses, They rode off into the sunset, a stoic loner of dignity, honor, and justice. Then, of course, there were the bad guys out there too. Post modern motorcyclists are a little of both.

I am told that you never see a motorcycle parked outside a psychiatrist office, but maybe a scooter or two and most certainly a fleet of Prius vehicles.

I make it a point to schedule a three-hour time block during the day once a week to ride my motorcycle, usually down the coast. I call this theraputic process my Cycle Therapy.

My son-in-law is a private pilot and I agree that there seems to be visceral parallels between soaring above the clouds, and what we call cannon carving on the twisty roads, sometimes inches away from a play date with Elvis. It is truly liberating to virtually glide down a windy two-lane road like a bandana wearing bob sledder after being perched high on a hill, with the green-gray ocean off to one side and white capped waves crashing onto the rusty tan sand beaches below. The stingy salty air, stabbing breezes, and wind gusts nudge you back and forth. In the distance there are billowy fog blankets with flashing swords of crisp sunlight that illuminate a blue sky ceiling. The throaty grumble of the hot engine below is powerful and so very much a part of your soul. You will find yourself totally alive with catlike reflexes, not sure if you are running from something or to something . . . and it doesn’t matter at all. The Zen of Zeitgeist.

The trip is always perilous and thrilling, like riding a remote controlled two-wheeled roller coaster. Time out of mind indeed, it’s an exuberant experience that causes your mind, body and soul to re-boot and defragment.

There is something about riding a motorcycle that allows you to be a participant in the environment through which you are touring, rather than being a glass-enclosed observer. On a bike you can smell the smells, feel the temperature changes, all the while knowing that you control your own fate. Biking gives you a cocky rebellious-type demeanor, and whether you maintain a Harley style, you pilot a rice rocket, or even sport a BMW, it’s all about the aerodynamics of attitude.

Live to ride, ride to live.

I’ve learned that you don’t ride when angry or emotionally upset. Motorcycling gives you a false illusion of power and road superiority. All you have to do is take a turn a little too fast, causing the back wheel to slide out just a little and, well, it’s a sobering experience. There is a major adage when it comes to motorcycle riding: there are two kinds of riders. Those who have fallen off and those who will fall off.

Bikers are literally run off the road. People open the doors while you are splitting lanes. Hitting the ground at any speed hurts. That is why people wear leather. Riders are encouraged to wear what you need to be wearing if you fall off. A thick jacket, strong boots, two pairs of jeans (or leather chaps/pants), gloves, a good helmet, and eyewear are absolutely necessary.

I am blessed to have three motorcycles. One is called a street fighter racer: a lightweight, high powered 1000cc Japanese bike that causes one to sit up straight and do power lifts, rather than the ten speed styled stoop over riding position. I also have a vintage power cruiser that was designed for drag racing and, in ’85, was the fastest bike on the planet. Last, but most certainly not least, in my garage you will find a chromed plated, chrome spoked, white walled, 1600cc thumping Harley Chopper with a windshield and a family tradition.

Each bike requires different equipment. While riding the street fighter I wear a Ninja leather racing jacket, full face helmet, and Timberland boots. While riding the Chopper it’s a half Harley helmet and a vintage police jacket over a red hoodie.

Motorcycling is simple; keep the rubber side down and the shiny side up. For me and my literarily vaquero styled demeanor, not riding — or writing — for me is not an option.

Edited by Susan Aceves

D. Terry Rawls January 9, 2013

I could have written this article, as I have been an active participant in Cycle Therapy for decades. It’s difficult to explain the therapeutic power of carving a twisty road. For me it is akin to meditation, where I live only in the moment with my full concentration focused on the smooth transitions from apex to apex. Thanks for this article AC. Ride safe, and keep the shiny side up!

George Grund May 13, 2014

Your words ring sweet and true. I’ve been asked why I am usually in a good mood; your article explains why!

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