T’is the season to be jolly.

Hello to everyone in the vast reaches of cyberspace. It’s that time of year again. The holidays are just around the corner and Christmas is in the air. Our friends in the north have packed their bikes away during the freeze, and ourselves here in the south have parked our bikes to be with family during the holidays. Life in general has slowed down as we approach the end of the year.

In the same sense biking things here have slowed down as the festive season approaches. The last advertised motorcycle event takes place on the 16th of December and our club year end function is to be on the 17th. This basically marks the end of the 2017 riding season here in South Africa. This means that Anxiety on Wheels, Mechanical MacGyver and myself will also be taking a break this festive season.

Don’t fret though, we will be back when the riding season in South Africa kicks off again mid January 2018. The new riding season promises to bring new stories and some big changes here at the Bike Addict, but until then enjoy the festive season with your loved ones.

For those still out riding. Have a safe ride, and enjoy the journey.

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Riser on the handlebars 

Hello to all in the vast reaches of cyberspace. So someone has told me that APParently we are living in the 21st century. This means that technological devices not only travel with us but are also able to assist us in our travels. Bamboozled by the idea I couldn’t help myself but to put it to the test. Thus I swiftly installed Riser on my Android powered technological device.

You can find it on Google play store here. As well as on IOS here.

Here’s what Riser has to offer us, quoted directly from their app pages in the respective application stores:

“RISER is a motorcycle platform built by motorcycle enthusiasts. It lets you track your motorcycle trips and share them with your friends and the community. Among others you will get the following functionality:

* Track your motorcycle trips
* Create special sections and share them with your friends and the community
* Organize your trips in your personal roadbook
* Discover popular roads nearby you
* Get live weather and weather forecast for sections nearby you
* Connect with your friends and likeminded people
* Add your bikes to your personal garage
* See statistics about your trips on your profile
* Discuss trips, sections and bikes in the comment section”

I’ve been riding around with Riser in my pocket, tracking my rides and all other things since mid October. It has a navigation feature as well (scratch that), but I don’t like having a phone staring at my while I ride so I rarely use it (can’t use it if the app doesn’t have it). Here are my thoughts:

At first glance, Riser does look like it is a version of Facebook dressed up for the motorcycle enthusiast. It is exactly that. It let’s you record your motorcycling journeys and shares them on the platform with your “friends”. It also gives you a glimpse of the weather conditions in your region. In essence it’s your motorcycling dashboard, giving you something to entertain yourself with, recording your trips, and sharing them with friends.

I installed the app on my device around mid October, and from the word go, I’ve been having problems. Granted, it is a new app, but a lot of these issues could have been addressed before release. Firstly, you have to register to use all of the features that are built into the app. It’s not that bad seeing as it’s free. Secondly, you create a profile, which has a garage section, where you list all of the bikes that you have. It does have Honda as a manufacturer, but neither my VFR 400 (VFR400R NC24) nor Anxiety’s Bros 400 (NT 400 Bros) were in the model list, and you cannot enter it manually. However, the larger displacements such as the VFR 750 and NT 650 Hawk are in the model list. (This was addressed in an update). So I have a profile on a biking app, but no motorbike as you have to provide the model for it to save it to your garage section. I’ve brought this to the attention of the developers, who informed me a few days later that the issue is to be addressed in an update that followed weeks after (deep into the month of November). I feel that it’s taken far to long to roll out an update for this and various other bug fixes.

The third on my no list is a bit of a bummer. Riser actually doesn’t have a navigation feature… It literally just records your trips. Yes, you have no idea where you’re going, but at least you know where you’ve been. Now if you someone who doesn’t pre-plan your route, you are pretty much screwed. Have fun switching between this and your navigation app with riding gloves on.

Fourthly, linking to the problem above, Riser has a discover feature, which I had mistaken for a navigation feature. It shows you the popular roads travelled by Riser users in your region. I’m located in Southern Africa. It appears that riders here don’t often make use of tech when riding. So all I get to Discover are the roads that I have been taking. I assume that this probably isn’t an app issue per se but a community issue, as in the community using Riser in my region is quite small. I noticed in November that this has seemed to become an issue of the past as more and more riders start using the Riser app my region and surroundings.

There are a few plus points to using Riser aswell. Firstly it works well when you want to share a fantastic road you’ve just discovered with your friends. Even if you just take a different route from the norm you can share that specific section to your profile for others to see. It logs both your start and end destination as well as your average and top speed.

Now I know a lot of you see red lights flashing, as you don’t want people to know where you are or where you come from. Secondly, there are some who have difficulty adhering to speed limits for some reason, and don’t want this infraction to be made public. To those there is a solution, you can simply hide the start and end location and your top speed. However, you can’t hide just your start or just your end destination, either you hide both or you hide neither.

Fortunately, Riser isn’t just all negatives. I found it to be a fantastic app if one wishes to just ride…, and track the roads that one discovers on such a walkabout. I believe this to be the purpose of the app, to help you jot down when and where you’ve found that perfect piece of road. To remind you of where it was that you had that once in a lifetime ride on the road you discovered while “lost”. It’s there when you want to commemorate a special ride with friends (like we wanted to do with the 35th Annual toy Run, if I had remembered to turn it on). It’s not an app to help you find your way, it’s the app that shows everyone the way you found.

For that simple reason, I think I’ll be keeping this little app on my phone. Ride safe and enjoy the journey.

 

2017 in Review

Hello to everyone in the vast reaches of cyberspace. The calendar year of 2017 has nearly met its end as we are enjoying the last few days before the new year. The riding season here in South Africa is starting to die down a bit as we approach the holidays. Therefore, I feel that this is the perfect time to have a little review of our year.

The bucket list

First things first. January 2017 I had posted a list of events that I wanted to attend in the year and a few solo rides that I wanted to do. Here’s how the list turned out:

I had been editing this post as the events took place in order to help everyone keep track of where we currently are on our shortlist. Therefore I find it useful to include a key to interpreting the list:

  • Events that have been stricken through = events that have been attended, including a post on the blog.

So here’s my shortlist:

  • Club voted day jols. 
  • The Impala Rally held at Hartebeespoort Holiday Resort from 10 to 12 March 2017.
  • South Africa Bike Festival. Held at Kayalami GP Circuit from 26 to 28 May 2017. 
  • Rhino Rally.
  • The Gauteng Annual Toy Run held in November at Benoni Northerns Sports Grounds
  • Poison Rally.
  • Along with all the above events I’ve planned a few solo/informal rides to a few interesting destinations. Some are quite new, others are old favourites waiting to be visited again. I’ve included maps to the list below, as some of these places aren’t that easy to find without a little help. Here’s the list:
    • The Upperdeck Restaurant.
    • Dukes Burgers.
    • Rim & Rubber Assembly, Greenside.

      Note: Rim and Rubber Assembly has relocated in the time since I wrote the original bucket list. I will add their new address in future

    • Historic Motorcycle Museum, Deneysville.

A sad, sad view, is it not? Out of 11 trips I was able to check off 5. This mostly being a result of my little yellow Honda spewing its guts all over my garage floor. It had reached the point where I was unable to ride for months on end. This problem has been sorted temporarily and I am back on the road for what remains of this season. If all goes to plan, next season will hold some exciting changes here at the Bike Addict.

Memorable moments

Now that we have mourned the death of the bucket list, let us celebrate the joy that the few checked off events have brought us.

Firstly, when you have a bad day and your bike decides to quit on you, you can always rely on family. This became evident to me around my birthday in March when the little yellow Honda died, and my personal responsibilities further soured my week and mood. As a birthday treat my family took me to Rim and Rubber. A bike themed restaurant I really wanted to visit. This was an awesome gesture that really lifted my mood.

Secondly, there was the South Africa Bike Festival. Probably the most memorable event for me this entire year. There we were able to enjoy everything motorcycle, and test drive the latest and greatest from all of the leading manufacturers. As part of the event, Mechanical MacGyver test drove the 2017 Suzuki Hayabusa and the 2017 BMW S1000R. I, on the other hand only had eyes for what I consider to Honda’s flagship litre bike. The 2017 Honda CBR1000SP, and what a ride it was. Anxiety on Wheels, was able to indulge his Harley fetish at their stand by gawking uncontrollably at these machines.

Thirdly, Anxiety on Wheels had a pretty interesting year. After the Dodgy Suzuki was stolen it took him quite a while to save up and buy his current set of wheels. The Honda NT 400 Bros, or Dusty Leafblower as we called it. Just after buying it, he had discovered an opportunity to buy a larger displacement Suzuki GSXR 750. This led him to frantically try to sell the Bros, but in the end sentiment prevailed, and he decided to keep it. We’ve had a lot of fun messing with it and trying to get a little more out of it. It seems that this tinkering will continue next year, as Anxiety does have a list of plans for this little machine.

Fourthly, the Toy Run. Always a mood lifting event. This year was exceptionally memorable as the little yellow Honda, Duiweltjie, and Dusty Leafblower, had to pull double duty as our riding trio turned to an octet. Sharing this event with close friends and family makes the ride a little more worth it. I’ve also received word that one of our passengers is also hankering to buy her own bike. I do hope this wish comes true, a good riding companion is hard to find.

Lastly, to all the trips that never got mentioned. Those two-in-the-afternoon-hankering-for-ice-tea trips, those quick-trips-for-good-burgers, those bike browsing trips and just the plain old commute. Basically, this last one is a dedication to all the friends and trips one comes across on a day-to-day basis. Those trips one does for the love of riding, or just to scare your passenger into doing chores. Those trips that feed the soul, little by little, every day.

We may not have accomplished all we set out for in 2017, but we had safe trips, and tons of enjoyable journeys. I wish the same for 2018 and to all of you.

 

 

The 35th Annual Gauteng Toy Run

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The 35th Anniversary badge for the Annual Motorcycle Toy Run.

Hello again from the vast reaches of cyberspace. I was hoping to have this post published less than 24 hours after the event, but unfortunately, the real world had other plans. So better late than never, as the saying goes. Even as I sit here, typing up this post it seems that distractions and obligations are ever-present.

The 26th of November 2017 9:00am marked the start of the 35th Annual Toy Run. It had us a little bit worried as the Thursday, Friday and Saturday leading up to the event were marked by heavy downpours. Luckily, Sunday was slightly overcast, but dry. The perfect weather to travel some distance and not get sunburnt (so some of us thought). As the day went along, the sun graced us with its presence, turning our cool morning to a hot afternoon.

We got of to a very early start on Sunday morning, around 7:00am, as we had to meet up with a few riders joining us, and pick up a few passengers. This year our little riding trio of Anxiety, Mechanical MacGyver and myself grew to octet, with four riders each carrying a passenger.

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From Left. Myself, (the parrot’s name is Steve), Quick Fix (our speedy paramedic), Mechanical MacGyver, Harley_Lover_248, Harley’s Daughter, Anxiety on Wheels, and Teddy’s. The woman behind the lens is One-way Ticket (who never returns from a run on a bike).

As usual, we gathered at Silverstar Casino around 8:10ish am. Here we had our morning coffee and prepared for the long ride to Benoni Northerns Sports Grounds. Also inside the norm, each of us carrying a special parcel to be donated to the cause of making an underprivileged child smile this Christmas. The mass ride set off just after 9:00am, with the boys in blue on our side blocking traffic as we set of on the N14 later to circle Kempton Park, and finally arrive at Benoni Northerns Sports Club.

Once more we travelled around a 100km from the start location to end, averaging around 80km/h. This meant that the ride felt so much longer than the previous year where we averaged 95km/h. This would also mark the first year of the Toy Run where I had a passenger riding with me. The slower traveling speed took its toll on all of us with cramps and spasms popping up every now and then. Every year that I attend this event I am reminded that sports bikes were never meant for riding on for extended periods of time.

On a different note. This year it seems that we had picked up a bit of a snag with our companions sporting the “blues-and-two’s” as traffic, which should have been stopped, ended up swerving through the more than a kilometre long mass of bikes. To my knowledge there were no incidents as a result of this, luckily.

The end venue was overrun with motorcycles, parked everywhere around the venue. One of the larger turnouts I’ve seen in recent years. Mostly composed of bikes, but also including a few trikes, and what I would call the world’s most expensive quad bike. Which is a custom-built, V8 powered four wheeler. I’m not quite sure how I feel about four wheels joining the mass ride, which in my opinion is reserved for two wheels.

After gawking at the quad for a while, we set off to donate our toys and enjoy the entertainment, stalls, and scenery of the day.

Just before we set off on our journey homewards, we snapped an image of the toys gathered on this momentous day.

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The collection marquee tents filled with the take of the day. A little hard to see, but under the tent are rows and rows of bags containing donated toys.

Once again, one of my favourite events, gathering donations for a good cause. We’ll wait and see what this year’s bike and toy tally is, when the organisers make this info available.

I can’t wait to do it all over again next year.

KNEELING FOR THAT PRAYER EVERY TIME YOU GET ON YOUR HORSE

Wake up, breakfast, brush your teeth, put on your suit, dust off your saddle, ride with purpose.

For a long time I’ve been using my motorcycle, my horse to keep me sane and get me from home to work and the usual trips. But for the next 4 weeks I will be using my horse to not just transport me, but to better my mind.

Both The Bike Addict and myself now use our horses to get to class and back. Only difference is I’m living out-of-town while studying, which further raises the question of what my petrol usage would be if I’m studying and living out of town. Studying about 19km/11miles from where I’m living currently.

But contrary to popular belief it doesn’t matter how far you travel each day. But how many stops you make, how fast you travel taking in consideration what work load your bike can take, and the consistency of your speed DOES however matter.

How many times you stop:
If you stop many times on a trip, there will be a lot of engine working in place, changing gears etc, which results in more petrol usage.
Travel speed: What I’m talking about here is not just how fast you go, but how much speed your bike can comfortably handle. For instance my old 125cc Honda fared better at 40-60km/h(25-37 mph) than pushing her to 80-120km/h(50-75mph), which nearly halved my petrol usage.
Consistency: How you ride determines your petrol usage. If you get up to 80km/h(50miles/h) and then keep it within that range and then gradually bring it down, your petrol usage would be better because of consistency.

As a matter of fact, because of my consistency and amount of stops I make etc when I’m studying, my petrol usage is even better than my long distance petrol usage (for newbies, long distance usage is usually considerably better than in-town usage, because of less stops and constant speed).

To cut through the economic cheese… Despite my bike turning into a jet ski last Tuesday in a pond of water because of the heavy rain I get in this town and the 20km ride in rain, using my horse to study is one of the best decisions about this whole study business I could have made. Nothing calms one down like the sound of your love or a horse ride after a long tenuous day reading medical terms and trying to put the human respiratory system together.

With knowledge comes power, but with horse comes peace.

Insult to injury to acceptance

Hello from the vast reaches of cyberspace. It’s that time again. Once more I turn to this blog to rant. About a week ago I received what I only can describe as hate mail. “We’re just a bunch of kids messing with tonka toys in our garage. How dare we call ourselves bikers.”  The mail goes on and on, but is filled with other averments that I wouldn’t want to repeat on here.

Instead of slinging filth back and forth, I feel that I can rather spend that time better by elucidating our predicament. To answer the statement in the mail, yes, that is true. Myself and Anxiety on Wheels are young adults, and we do spend considerable time tinkering on our small displacement motorcycles. Furthermore, if the term biker offends then I’d rather consider myself a motorcycle enthusiast. But, what we’re doing, isn’t that what being a biker is all about?

What is a real biker? How do I then apply for my “real biker” card? Do I have to be a 1%er on a Harley? Do I have to look one way or dress another? Should I only take my bike to an authorised dealer to service it?  What’s the definition of a biker?

As I sit here and look around I see that biking isn’t about what you wear, what you ride, how you look. It’s the sensation of screaming down the road without a care in the world. It’s being connected to the scenery and the road as you travel from A to Z and every letter in between. Wasn’t the principle of being a biker to escape the stereotypes of society? Therefore, trying to tell me that I don’t fit into the biker box is contradictory to what being a biker is about. But as I’ve said, if that’s what’s bothering the letter’s author, I shall concede , I am therefore merely a motorcycle enthusiast.

Now for the part of me “messing with my tonka toy”. Yes, I do spend a lot of time working on my bike, yes, my bike is a tiny little 400 cc and yes, some of the bits on my bike are jerry-riged. The concept of doing your own maintenance and modifying one’s bike is as old as the concept of the motorcycle itself. I challenge the author of the mail to show me a “biker” that hasn’t done a bit of custom work to his/her bike, and I feel adding even a single sticker should be seen as adding your own custom touch to your bike. Modifying one’s bike, or “messing” with it is the basis of the custom bike world. Without someone “messing” with their bike, cafe racers and scrambler builds would never exist.

It’s not just Japanese and European bikes that are being “messed” with. Some of the earliest, modified bikes (dating back to the 1930’s) is the Harley-Davidson based bobbers. This in turn sparked the Chopper revolution with custom bikes from the likes of Arlen Ness, Orange County Choppers, and West Coast Choppers. Harley-Davidson even offers an extensive line of catalogue bolt-on parts for those who wish to make their H-D bike their own. If you aren’t brave enough to do it yourself, Harley will bolt them on for you. Still making it a custom bike, that has been “messed” with in some sort of garage.

The aforementioned, decorated custom bike builders were all just “kids messing with tonka toys in their garages” at some point in time. Hell, Harley-Davidson, one of the biggest American bike manufacturers, was founded by a few kids in a shed. I’m not saying that I’ll be the next Arlen Ness or William Harley. I’m just saying if those guys could be tinkering in sheds and be seen as real bikers / bike builders, Anxiety on Wheels and I can’t be that far off.

Rant over.

She’s Still Hooligan, But “Refined Hooligan”

With the first start the garage we were standing in started resonating, the ground we stood upon started to rumble as goosebumps appeared upon our stretched-out arms. Crows shouting their kraa, dogs barking in and hearts beating slower, skipping beats and thumping in our ears. And suddenly all is right with the world, balance is restored. A growling hooligan turned proper. She’s still a hooligan but “refined hooligan”.

Much work had to be done to turn our splattering, seemingly under-powered, rude, LOUD…. And I mean FRIGGING loud, like your neighbors shooting each other with .44 Magnums through fridges loud, so loud my boss stopped talking in a meeting from frustration… But to my point much had to be done to turn the missing link into a gentleman.

Between the exhaust work I must add we changed a headlight, tried to fix my odometer and saved my chain guard with two screws and washers that cost me R1,10c.

 

First of all, THREE holes 4 times the size of some scooter silencers had to be plugged but the metal on the silencer box (muffler for those across the pond) was weakened and here is where it already gets interesting.. We went to “professionals” who told me “that’s toast”, chuck it away.. I’m not touching that” and then we found a fellow named “Alfred” with an oxy-acetylene torch who put some plates over the affected areas and brazed it perfectly. Half an hour later I brushed it down with a wire brush and it looks good as new. All shiny, with some scratches of course.

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Next we needed to keep this most common rust problem at bay. For this we purchased a can of engine enamel in matt black and applied a few coats on either side, nix the chrome bits to keep this weather proof, and then we decided to scrub the inside silencer as well and also give it a few sprays to weatherproof it further.

 

Next we tried fitting the new/old silencer but the wheel and old double-stand spacer bracket was in the way so both had to be removed. Further down the line we also applied our “40-60mm” pipe clamps (which, for effect, we also sprayed matt black) to secure connect between headers and the two into one collector attached to the resonator and silencer.

 

After putting back all te that was needed, all that was fixed.. The first turn of the key and the first kick of the starter again ignited my flame of pride for Honda JDM’s

Bikes get old, they rust, they… Fall apart. The friends I bought my monster from looked after her well but lacked interest and love for her. And now with love she is once more restored, a still faithful beast, a proud HONDA.

Function Over Form… But Sentiment Trumps ALL.

From our tiny little corner at the ass-end of Africa where lions grow mielies (Corn for you English-speaking folk), Jackals sell cars and Hyenas drive taxi’s….. My message, my poem, my song today comes from the hearts of more than one man, or woman. The Bike Addict, my brother with whom I do not share blood, has greatly affected how I view owning a motorcycle.

Engine size, cubic inches, number of pistons, size of tires… That doesn’t always matter. The Bike Addict’s Little Yellow Monster has been somewhat troublesome over the years. Struggling to start, struggling to stay in idle, heating up, too rich, burning plugs, leaking oil (not all at once, but sometimes in combination) and more.. And I’ve heard his cries in anger and his threats.
But NEVER has he even caved to the thought of selling his ‘first born’. SENTIMENT is a bond between man and machine, woman and her monster, a dude and his bike, bro.

I know of a man with a trench coat full of bike jol patches, old and grey or as we bikers call that stage “chrome”. His bike of choice? A 350 motorbike… Not 750, not 1000.. His baby is his little 350.

Every rider’s bike is their own, which is why we customize. Which is why we name, why we appraise, why we get ticked off over one scratch. If you don’t look back at your Bike every time you park her, you bought the wrong horse. Which is true, because every time I walk past the building and come to the corridor where I can see my bike from 20 meters away, I look at her every time, EVERY time.

Also recently for my Basic Ambulance Assistant Course studies, my heart was set in motion on a bigger bike, a 750cc. And the longer I kept on with this escapade the heavier and more stressed my heart became. So The Bike Addict came at me with 3 questions: #1 Do you just want to get rid of her? #2 Do you want the new bike more? And #3 Does engine size really matter?

And then my final sentimental “nail in the wood” was the love of my life, the first girl I ever took on a bike outside town or even to any bike run for that matter.. SHE made me fall in love with my little Japanese harley-sounding ass kicking, dust kicking neighbor-waker all over again. She made me realize finally that YOU SHOULDN’T MESS WITH A GOOD THING.

When I held on to my sentimental feeling for this crazy loud little demon, I fell in love all over again and decided to keep her. So “I want a bigger bike” is not a good enough reason for getting rid of a trusty steed. If you want a bigger bike, and I mean really want it… Make sure is speaks louder to your heart than your current horse.

Ride safe, ride often. If you ride in the rain be sure to enjoy the sound of it on your helmet. Take the scenic route and stop to enjoy the view, but never ride faster than your angel can fly.

The 35th Annual Toy Run Approacheth.

Hello to all in the vast reaches of cyberspace. Today marks one month to go before the 35th Annual Toy Run. As long time followers will know, this is an event very near to my heart.

Since 1982, men on steel steeds have hauled little parcels of joy across the country’s roads in order to bring joy to those who are not as fortunate as we are. These parcels, mostly toys, are hauled to designated collection venues. From there, these toys are given to those who otherwise wouldn’t have had a very merry Christmas.

This year, on the 26th November, marks the 35th rendition of the symphony of wind and exhaust as the Annual Toy Run kicks into full gear at 9:00 am. Men and women from all over South Africa gear up and take on the road with little parcels of joy to be donated. Will I be there? It’s going to take a massive feat of nature to try to keep me away.

I wish everyone who is able to attend to join me in this most enjoyable journey.

Ride to clear your mind.

Hello to everyone in the vast reaches of cyberspace. I rarely write about matters of the heart. I usually leave these mushy matters to our emotionally well versed Anxiety on Wheels. However, there comes a time where one’s thoughts pile to the point where one has to vent in some way or another.

I’ve been solo riding for quite some time now, during my commute, testing a few pieces of technology (something I will share in future) and just riding for riding’s sake. Something has been striking me during these trips. Something that I cannot truly explain. The best I can explain it is by using a line or two from Sons of Anarchy. Jackson “Jax” Teller opens an episode with the following monologue:

‘Something happens at around 92 miles an hour. Thunder headers drown out all sound. Engine vibration travels at a heart’s rate. Field of vision funnels into the immediate. And suddenly you are not on the road – you’re in it, a part of it. Traffic, scenery, cops – just cardboard cutouts blown over as you pass. Sometimes I forget the rush of that, that’s why I love these long runs. All your problems, all the noise, gone. Nuthin else to worry about, except what’s right in front of you.’

This quote has echoed inside my mind since the first time that I’ve heard it. It further rings true in my current situation. It’s not been the best year for me in a personal regard, add to that the fact that the Little Yellow Honda has also not been fit for duty for a large part of the year. But none of that matters when you turn the key.

As the engine fires up, it ignites a fire within one’s soul as well. The machine moves the body, the experience moves the soul. The gushing of wind and roar of the exhaust drown out all other noise. Every bump, pebble and crack gets transmitted from the wheels into the fibers of one’s being. As speed increases, one’s thoughts decreases. Until you reach that magical number where there is nothing. Nothing on your mind but the road. Nothing weighing on your heart but the excitement of riding. No images in front of you apart from tar and scenery. Completely at peace among the chaos that is man, machine and road.

The chaos in my mind also turns to nothing but pure ecstasy. Man and machine, trapped in moment after moment of wind, exhaust, and vibration. As long as the engine is running and the bike moving, there’s nothing that bothers me. There’s nothing chasing me. Absolutely unfazed. I am at peace when on my machine.