Well, it has been basically 8 weeks between days that were viable days to ride safely. The weather since the holidays around these parts has been equal parts, wet, cold and windy. I can generally handle any two, but all three mixed together, and, well the car just seems like a better idea. It doesn't really help that in there I was, sick for 2 weeks, and hurting from the marathon for another 2. Today however, everything came together and I got to pull out the bike and ride to work.
Oh my word did it feel good. Vehicular Therapy. The sounds, the feel, the wind, it all comes together to bring about a nearly instant smile. Did I care that it was a mere 32 degrees? not even a smidgeon. The sun was out, the bike was under me and the roads were out there to be ridden. It was glorious.
Within a couple of miles though, I realized something else.
The pure joy of riding doesn't hide the fact that being off the bike for a bit, letting the brain gnaw on some things, I've forgotten how much more alert the experience of riding is. Just a few weeks of being in the cage, and all of those creature comforts, and I see again how 'tuned' out even the most aware and sensitive drivers become. Radios, phones, other people, even the climate controls are distractions. The isolation from the road, the sounds of traffic and the odors that indicate things in the roads, it is so easy to forget that there are other people out there dependent upon our attention. As I rider, I know these things. I see them every day I ride. Yet, in just a short time, those distractions claimed my attention as well. Only upon getting back in the saddle do you see just how much those distractions cost in terms of safety and awareness.
We have all seen and heard the stories about bikers getting into accidents, and the common refrain is "I didn't see him/her". As riders, we love to joke about this, and comics like the one above really emphasize what we say, but this is less about seeing, and more about actually looking. About not being distracted. In this age of putting more into a car, perhaps it is time to look at putting less into it.