Monday, June 28, 2004
For the guys who ride BMW R bikes it can be even more so because having your boots tucked under the cylinders as you go along adds to the misery. I used to commute to work every day on an R100RT and more often than not wound up riding with my feet placed back on the passenger pegs looking for a little relief. I loved the R100 but it wasn't a great summer bike for this area. Of course winters were a different and happier thing entirely.
With the hottest days upon us now I've limited most of my riding to evening cruises out through the farm country and particularly through the little towns of Florence and Coolidge.
When I was younger I used to blast through the miles scarcely taking notice of the surroundings except to look for cops lurking and seeking to spoil my fun. These days I move a bit less hurried and in many respects am enjoying riding more than I have in years.
Coolidge is a little town caught between the past and future, currently in a present that is something less than grand. When you ride through the town you see the signs of prosperity past, buildings mostly that reached their architectural zenith in '60s or '70s. I spoke one time to one of the city fathers who told me when mechanization came to the farms the labor force was reduced drastically and the town started to die. It's hung on for a long time now, just enough farming left to keep the grocery story functioning and an assortment of other businesses too. There are lots and lots of buildings with paint pealing, facades fading, and walls cracking and for some reason it give the town an appeal not unlike a deserted city but still largely intact.
I've been riding over to Coolidge almost every weekend, arriving in the late afternoon or just before sunset. I've found the combination of afternoon light, old buildings, and emptiness to be an irresistible subject for my camera. When I took my first pictures there a few months ago I was surprised at how interesting the place looked when captured in a small frame. Naturally to keep things tied to motorcycles I try to include my Kawasaki in some of the shots.
This combination of riding and photography, especially since I've slowed the bike down, has become a very satisfying part of my life, so much so that I finally splurged on a better camera than my Nikon Coolpix 4500. I find myself now planning rides with the camera in mind more than the roads. Winding roads aren't that common here abouts unless you ride some distance to begin with but good subjects for the camera abound if one slows down and looks. In slowing down, I've enjoyed the bike more too, the lazy rumble of the engine, the solid feel of the handling, and sense of moving through the landscape rather than blasting through it. I've also taken the time to turn down what would otherwise be uninteresting roads only to discover some amazing things. So my advice for the day: Slow down. Take a camera.
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"When my mood gets too hot and I find myself wandering beyond control I pull out my motor-bike and hurl it top-speed through these unfit roads for hour after hour." - T.E. Lawrence
An Important reminder from the past:
"I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." - James Madison