Editors Note: KAT has been writing about her experiences as a new rider—something we've all experienced—but in her own unique way. While our coverage of The Planet D learning to ride this summer was an incredible whirlwind of transitioning from rookies to road kings, KAT's progression is likely more like most of what most of us experience. To read all of Kat's columns, click here!
“There's more to getting to where you're going then just knowing there's a road.” Joan Lowery Nixon, In The Face of Danger
I dream of grand adventures.
I long for a day (or series of days) when the right combination of time, opportunity, partner-in-crime, and available funds converge together and sing, “It’s yours for the taking, KAT…. Grab it by the handlebars and hold on tight ‘cause you’re in for one h*ll of a ride!”
I read the facebook posts of friends and strangers, and live vicariously through their accountings of road trips and daytrips, coffee breaks and group camping trips & barbeques.
Truth be told, although the affection and camaraderie acquired through their adventures – and shared by their words and endless series of photographs – is quite evident, theirs are adventures of a different kind.
Someone once told me that there are two basic types of riders: Dogs and Cats.
Dogs are, by nature, pack animals.
A group of tightly-knit individuals in a group, with differing wants and needs, bound together by the common thread of the desire for social interaction.
Cats are different.
Cats aren’t anti-social as much as they are, well, not social. Oh sure, they can get along with others, but they often tend to be on their own, even when surrounded by people. I am a cat.
No really… KAT is a cat.
I went on an Alaskan cruise on my own.
I have grown to love being a single mom.
I covet the time I have to myself.
Now, don’t get me wrong; I am not a loner. I have a wonderful, yet small, group of close friends. There’s someone special who lives in my heart and I can’t imagine my life without him in it. And I have two amazing daughters, who are spreading their wings but still call my nest ‘home’.
My riding life follows the same pattern.
I have an extended ‘family’ of close friends and strangers alike. Whether it’s in a larger group for a charity ride or with one or two riding buddies on a back road, I venture out with others on occasion. I’ve been invited to join different riding organizations, and have joined in on a single event or occasion, but I honestly prefer the intimacy that exists when it’s one-on-one, me and the open road.
I suppose that’s what I’m struggling with at the moment; I’m trying to figure out where I fit into this world. I read about other people’s adventures and I wonder if I’m ‘doing this wrong’.
There are stories galore, weaving tales of amazing scenery and preferred routes and the best place to grab a burger. Youtube and other sites are full of ‘been there, done that’ videos, friends recording friends and their fifteen minutes of fame moments, people creating memories together with sons gifting fathers, kids taking their first ride and old-timers recounting the Good Ol’ Days.
Me? I have Ruby. And I have my camera.
Call us the Three Musketeers of the Open Road.
There are days when I consult the map on the wall of my home office and make plans to go here and do that.
There are other days when I simply pull out of the driveway and let Ruby lead the way.
I love country roads! I love everything about them.
I love the unscheduled and unplanned stops. From horses grazing by a fence, to deer running in an open meadow, to herds of cows that look up with mild curiosity when I pull over to open up Ruby’s saddlebag and grab my camera, all are small and magical moments in their own way.
I’ve had little kids shyly stare from across a gas station parking lot, their eyes opening wide when I took off my helmet and they saw that I am a girl. I couldn’t help but smile at their absolute joy when I offered (with their grandmother’s permission, of course) to let them come and have a seat on the bike. You can’t do that when you pull into a gas station in a car; asking a child if they would like to come and sit in your car is not only creepy, it could get you in a whole pile of trouble *laughing* Stops for coffee at random Tim Horton’s locations while out on a Sunday afternoon ride have resulted in some wonderful encounters with total strangers. Two wheels often equal one great opportunity for making a new friend and spending some time engaged in conversation. We tend to gravitate to the same place in a parking lot and linger just a little longer than intended, checking out each other’s rides and mentally taking note of the things we might like to try on our own.
Maybe I’m not doing this ‘wrong’ as much as I am going about it ‘different’.
A leopard can’t change its spots overnight; maybe it’s the same way with a KAT.
I have a photo album in my mind, snapshots of all the little bits & pieces and memories created as a result of my back road journeys. I guess it really doesn’t matter that I’m not riding far and wide or setting out for a full day or a week-long adventure right now.
I suppose all that really matters is that I’m riding. The longer trips and bigger adventures will happen eventually.
Who’s not to say that as long as the wheels are turning – on the back roads and in my mind – that every trip, no matter the amount of time spent or distance travelled, is a journey unto itself.
Oh, I’ve got plans, my friends.
Big ones and little ones.
Long trips and short excursions.
Destinations and wanderings.
To everything, there is a season.
And right now, it’s riding season.
Planned or unplanned, make every time you twist the throttle count.
Happy riding, and maybe I’ll see you at a Timmy’s sometime…