Creating Perfect Present Moments- The First Ride of Spring

As I wash and prepare my motorcycle for the new riding season, my excitement starts to build. The first wash is a kind of ritual, paying extra attention to every detail of the bike. It takes longer to do, as I meticulously clean each piece of chrome to shine in the spring sunlight. The hibernation of wintertime has made both the bike and me itchy for another season of long, winding canyon rides.

I put on my buffalo leather riding jacket, my gloves and cinch on my helmet, remembering it’s always best to dress for the slide, not the ride. I learned that the hard way coming down a canyon and totaling my three day old motorcycle about seventeen years ago. Luckily, my helmet and jacket saved my life, though my crushed pelvis, and other broken bones and bruises might not agree.

I start the bike and listen to the low rumble of the idle as it warms up. The vibration of the bike brings my body to life as I take off down the road. Since this is the first ride of the season, I take it easy, just getting reacquainted with my black mistress. I gently sway back and forth a bit, leaning with each turn, getting a feel for the weight of the bike. It feels like home again. I check my mirrors, look at the speedometer, and make sure my tank has enough gas for my journey. Everything feels great, so I twist the throttle and give it a punch. The power of acceleration gives me that old, familiar rush, just for a few seconds, then I slow back down to the speed limit. We’re ready to ride.

Today, I’m going to put on some music and relax, so I adjust my earphones and turn on a nostalgic playlist of 80’s songs from Journey, 38 Special, Def Leppard, Foreigner, Boston and a bunch of others. It’s like a trip back in time as high school memories fill my mind as each new song comes on.

As I enter the mouth of the canyon, the road narrows to single lanes. I know that traffic will be minimal, because it’s too early in the year for the pass to be open across the Aspen Loop. There is still snow up top, so I know this is a ride up to the gate and then back again. It doesn’t matter at all. On a bike, as in life, it’s all about the journey, not the destination.

Springtime is a precarious time up the canyon. There has been snow and there may be rocks that may have fallen on the road. There may be holes in the asphalt that weren’t there in the fall. Around some of the switchbacks, there may even be running water streaming across the street due to the winter runoff. All risks worth taking, with just a little more care. I start winding up the canyon as the roads begin to get curvier. The bike and I lean as one into each curve on the road. It’s the magnificent feeling that only a motorcycle rider can know.

As I move further up the canyon, the stream joins the road on the right side. The current is much faster at this time of the year, and the water much dirtier with all the winter runoff. On the other side of the stream, I see a couple of families strolling alongside the stream. One of the little boys, who looks to be about four years old, is throwing rocks in the water, as little boys do. I look up, and the steep mountain cliffs seem to welcome me into their private shelter. The trees are a brilliant green, full of new life, very different from the gold and orange leafed trees that I left here in the fall. Death and life have new meaning, and I’m grateful for new beginnings.

There is a pristine peace that exists alone on the bike in God’s mountainous playground. It is here. It is now. It is a perfect present moment. There are no regrets of the past, nor worries of the future. There is no anxiety to get to a destination. There is a feeling that all is right in the world. It is the place where heaven greets earth as a long, lost friend.

I reach the top where the gate is closed and turn into a parking place where people stop to hike. I jump off my bike to take in the view. There’s a guy with a big boxer dog walking in my direction. I squat down, and the dog comes to me like an old friend. We exchange a moment of recognizing each others’ greatness as I pet him on the head, then he strolls off.

I get back on the bike, ready to head back down. Now I know the condition of the road and the areas to be careful, so I go a little faster and test my skills a bit, but not so much that I can’t enjoy the scenery. The oneness of the bike, the road and me give me an escape from any care that might exist in the valley. As I lean left and right, I enjoy the forces of gravity and physics that make this adventure possible.

There is nothing like the first of anything. A first kiss, a first love, the first ride of spring. They are all perfect present moments that, stitched together, make for a perfect life. For that, I am grateful.

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