Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Dangers of Commuting

Some would argue that the dangers of commuting to work on a motorcycle arise from navigating through traffic that, in the best of conditions, does not acknowledge the presence of the cyclist. Undoubtedly, this is true. Each day the commuting rider subjects himself to distracted or short-tempered drivers using their vehicles to jockey for lane position even if it only means gaining a single car length before the traffic grinds to a standstill. The risk of physical injury during the commute home from work can be quite a great deal higher than the morning rush hour. Everyone wants to get home, but fewer people are in a hurry to get to work.

Every motorcyclist on the road, whether commuting or not, faces these risks. But the commuter faces a danger that often goes unrecognized. I'd call it a spiritual danger, or if uncomfortable with that notion, a philosophical risk. The danger is quite simply to loose oneself in the traffic, to focus so intently on the process of navigation from point A to B that the significance of traveling by bike breaks down. Almost every rider with whom I speak agrees that a fundamental link between the health of the human spirit and the act of motorcycling exists. As the old saying goes, "You'll never see a motorcycle parked outside of a psychiatrist's office." While I don't necessarily agree with that statement, I'll acknowledge that one of the activities I anticipate throughout the work week is the opportunity to get out and get lost on some back roads over the weekend. Doing so replenishes me and allows movement at an undetermined pace. So much of my life, including my daily commute, can be measured by predetermined units of time and distance.

Lately, I've been stuck in the groove of the commute. The bike sits idle in the driveway on the weekends. I grease the chain and check the oil level in preparation for the ride into the city each day. My dedication to this blog slips away and before I know it, two months have past since I last posted. So I'm heading out this afternoon for a little undefined saddle time, a piece of uncrowded highway, and a renewal of the spirit.