I had no idea, sitting outside of a gas station choking down their version of coffee and watching the sky kaleidoscope from nighttime purple into early sunrise hues of dust pink and hazed blue, that a mere ten hours later I would be trapped four hundred miles from home in a potentially dangerous thunderstorm.
Ah, the joys of motorcycling.
And the bird.
That poor bird.
I saw Josh flinch and wasn’t sure what had happened until he leaned over and screamed “A fucking bird hit my foot!”
A moment of silence for our feathered and navigationally challenged friend please.
I had to wonder, where the hell is that scene in the big bike company commercials with all the hipster jack ass model types with their perfect five o’clock shadow toughness and manicured beard manliness and the hash tags and the uniform look and the slick new bikes they’ll be rid of in two years but in debt over for at least a decade? Then the bug.
No moment of silence for that bug. He was a jerk.
He found his way behind Josh’s KD’s and into his eye. Not his eyelid. His eyeball. He had what looked like a cross between a slight black eye and a raging case of pink eye for two days. Which motorcycle company included that scene in their sales pitch? Ready for a close up indeed.
And then there was the bug’s shithead brother.
He got me.
Eyelid, this time.
And neither bug likely would’ve been more than the usual insect inconvenience had they not come after being trapped in the panhandle for approximately four hours, during a solid twenty minutes of which the sky looked much too serious to laugh. The rest of the time, when we weren’t trying to beat the gap between storms and getting each time caught in the next round of downpour too heavy to see and too dangerous to push, we were taking shelter anywhere we could find, including the aluminum carport overhang “pavilion” of an rv campsite somewhere just past nowhere. For miles around us we could see storms, pop up storms so called (not as fun as pop up books, fyi), appearing and disappearing and rolling from the farthest horizon point south on to the northeast, barring exactly the path we needed as well as the alternates. They are beautiful to watch, but I must imagine more so when you have more between you and a potential tornado situation than a sliver of corrugated aluminum.
Resigned to finding humor in whatever was coming, while we waited for our next sizeable gap I wiped my face with my one remaining dry bandana, watched and photographed the storms, and wrote about how things change below the surface, about presumption and being pigeonholed, and further into reality versus the land of biker make believe as we dubbed it. Not dubbed at that moment mind you, but it was so christened under the shelter of the last carport we’d hidden under some twenty miles back on the only farm we’d seen in miles. Those people were apparently not home (we knocked) but we worried no less about potentially being shot for trespassing, especially since as we raced for the carport, one bike thought it was nap time and it took a few minutes to get her unstuck from their mostly mud but somewhat gravel driveway. In a downpour. And lightning. Once under shelter we laughed at each other, soaked thru and muddy and hoping the rain would slack enough to get gone before we were made unwelcome. That is biker reality. And that is where we christened Make Believe Bikerland.
I’ve seen Make Believe Bikerland in commercials and tv shows. Sometimes movies. Apparently it’s a place where bugs and even birds don’t hit you occasionally. Where the elements are a nonissue as even the least experienced rider can glide through any situation without concern in their factory made coolness bubble, like some scene ala David Mann, tornados and lighting in the background as our corporate uniform biker rolls on, his radio blaring one of five classic rock song options. It’s a place where everyone loses all those damn inconvenient insecurities and magically becomes cool. It’s a place where biker is an image at least according to the #commercials where more selfies with a bike in lieu of more miles on a bike make a real biker, along the same old lines of 15 grand and 15 miles. It’s the place where the wind is replaced with a radio and where big corporate says a damn gps is how to find the backroads because they are marketing the delusion of make believe instead of the awe inspiring reality of just being you and doing your thing and getting lost and seeing what happens. Like getting stuck in a storm under an aluminum carport in an rv park somewhere just past nowhere.
Personally, I’ll just keep getting lost in nowhere and having my little adventures. I’ve done it for years and I figured out a long time ago lost has a found. The predawn powder mix coffee on a gas station curb and watching nature roll furious on the horizon from scant aluminum shelter and pacing out a five hour ride home into eight through the black of night drizzle on rain slicked highways certainly isn’t the make believe, but neither are they unpleasant for what they uncover and where they lead. And you don’t need a factory gps for that.