After departing for Portland in April, I wan’t able to bring the Big Bike so I decided to leave it behind at Sierra BMW in Sparks, NV. The plan was to return to Reno once we had found a place to live and ride the Big Bike North to our new home.
In my previous post – sort of my World Premier blog post – I’d written about the fact that I had an unread copy of “Xen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”…
Images of a book that I’ve never read came to mind: “Xen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”. Though I’d never read it, I always imagined that it had a certain Wisdom of the Universe within its pages and I’d heard that the main character of the book road a BMW just like my “Uncle”, Uncle Al.
Note: Despite having a poor memory for most of my life’s history, I was able to recall almost exactly when and where I bought that book: I bought that book eleven years ago at a going-out-of-business sale at the Borders Books in Milpitas, California! I just needed that handle by which to grab the memory and drag it back into my conscious…
Though I’ve never read the book it clearly has, in my mind, a lofty reputation. So I find it interesting that it took me eleven whole years to get around to really learning what make this book so special! (In retrospect: It was my assumption that I already knew this book – on it’s reputation, alone!)
Anyhow, after procrastinating for eleven years, I finally got the urge to find out what this book is about and immediately (i.e., In the first chapter!) I found two ideas that resonated with me in a fundamental way:
First: The author, Robert M. Pirsig, perfectly paints a picture of exactly why I ride…
You see things vacationing on a motorcycle that is completely different from any other. In a car you’re in a compartment, and because you’re used to it you don’t realize that everything that you see through that car window is just more TV. You are a passive observer and it is all moving boringly by you in a frame.
On a cycle the frame is gone. You’re completely in contact with it all. You’re in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming. That concrete whizzing by five inches below your foot is the real thing, the same stuff you walk on, it’s right there, so blurred you can’t focus on it, yet you can put your foot down and touch it any time, and the whole thing, the whole experience, is never removed from immediate consciousness.
Second: And then Pirsig explains perfectly what I mean when I talk about being “alone with my thoughts”…
Unless you’re fond of hollering you don’t make great conversations on a running cycle. Instead you spend your time being aware of things and meditating on them. On sight and sound, on the mood of the weather and things remembered, on the machine and the countryside you’re in, thinking about things at great leisure and length without being hurried and without feeling you’re losing time.
I am looking forward to reading this book, all-the-way-through, before our Big Adventure, in May, and I’m excited to share the experience right here, with You!
A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
It’s true – But, really, the journey begins long before that first step. For me that journey began when someone else embarked on a journey all their own.
In July of 2014 my family packed up and moved to the other coast. I’ve never been very close to my folks but – for me – this change set into motion other changes. And I’ve never had a very good memory of my life’s events and – When I realized that my mother holds almost all of my childhood memories. My history! – this change represented a threat to my entire identity. So I did what any middle-aged, white-collar man would do in my position: I went looking for some way to rejuvenate and reinforce my virility! As a result I returned to two facets of my life that have been a part of my male psyche since I was just a boy: Motorcycles and Adventure.
About a year before all of this began I had watched the BBC documentary “The Long Way Round”. The story of Charlie Boorman & Ewan McGregor rambling across Europe on BMW motorcycles resonated deep within me. The story had a certain Quixotic luster that appealed to me in a way that I can’t explain without staring blankly into the distance and drooling all over my self. So, naturally, when this crisis came along I knew that I needed my own, modern-day Rocinante: A BMW R1150GS Adventure – A motorcycle to take you anywhere, any time, with a certain rugged refinement. Images of a book that I’ve never read came to mind: “Xen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”. Though I’d never read it, I always imagined that it had a certain Wisdom of the Universe within its pages and I’d heard that the main character of the book road a BMW just like my “Uncle”, Uncle Al.
So I set out on a mission to acquire my Rocinante: I searched CraigsList. I searched CycleTrader.com. I searched eBay. I made spreadsheets to tease out the subtle differences between the dozens of potential candidates and to single-out “The One”. I’d been searching for about a month when Jeremy – a close friend of mine – found a rare specimen in Tucson, Arizona. The motorcycle in consideration was a very rare find: A 2004 BMW R1150GS Adventure, Bumblebee Edition, in “mint” condition, with only 27,000 miles on the odometer. This was “The One” so I set out for Tuscson with an overnight bag containing only a few items of clothing; my helmet; my gloves, and; a cashiers check for the purchase price. And that is how my journey began!