February – Riding the Zone

I really want a cigarette. I mean I REALLY want one. I fondly recall the drifts and swirls reeling around me like a circle of security, creating a protective barrier between the non-smokers world and me. I long for that feeling, however since quitting smoking over five years ago, I instead go for an espresso followed by a motorcycle ride into the foothills. Riding sums my total concentration and requires my skill and cunning, skill to remain on the rubber side and cunning to replace the desire for a smoking stick between my lips.

A quick espresso sees me through my moto-check. I am still having problems with my gas cap, and I need to frequently vent the cap manually to keep the bike running. I am awaiting a new cap, however I need to inquire if it has been actually sent yet. I check my fuel, knowing full well that if I need some, I may have to rob a wealthy Starbucks client for some ready cash, as my wallet appears slain.

Thoughts wander to my recently attended Red Cross Disaster Recovery training session the knowledge that I now remain on call twenty-four seven. I have a ton of work to complete, however my mind has had a difficult time severing the lurking thoughts of hurricanes and sorrow, rescue and relief, normalcy. Time to ride, and experience some badly needed moto-therapy.

Mounting my bike, I give a wave in response to another rider parking his bike and spying me about to leave. He gives me a hearty thumbs up, an intention of which I am never sure. Cool, that I am riding a Yamaha, cool that I am female, cool that I am wearing protective gear, cool that he thinks I am interested in him? Hmmmm….coolness.

I gladly ride out of town into the dusty yellow-beige foothills of the Sierras, where a hot look could start a brush fire. The road isn’t crowded, however at the price of gas I am not surprised, although it is the rush hour and the usual snake heading out of the city must be hibernating somewhere in the sun.

Enjoying the warm day and fresh aroma of the road, I ride into Green Valley towards Placerville, bypassing Salmon Falls Rd, knowing only to well that I am not an avid twisty rider. My friend Art once said, riding tight twisties on a cruiser is “just way too much work”. Yep, Art, I have come to think that you are right.

Smells fill the wind and although my helmet visor is down, I catch the aroma of spice and flower and an occasional skunky aroma. There is also the unmentionable smell of something that has lost life and now decaying nearby, however nothing lingers as I cruise by and the rank odor is quickly replaced by a new more pleasing one.

As the rode slides by, I realize that I am not thinking. I am in a bubble floating along the earth at a rapid pace. The curves are entered automatically, and the rapidity of travel is undaunted. Fear of falling has finally been replaced with confident handling of this grand steed. The rules of riding selected automatically from memory, the ride is an epiphany.

I follow the ebbs and tides of the road as it moves farther towards Placerville, however at the end of Green Valley, I decide to turn right and join Highway 50, flowing with higher freeway speeds. Apparently so did a gaggle of turkeys. I flew and they walked, a strange irony, but I kept my eyes on them nevertheless.

Merging onto Highway 50, I catch sight of what appears to be a plastic sheet dancing within a pickup bed. The exotic display, a potential danger for a motorcyclist, is strangely eerie and alluring. I pass the exhibit and exit the freeway onto El Dorado Blvd. Making a giant loop back to Green Valley Rd. I am an explorer seeking new adventures on roads less taken, and I traverse the hillside on winding side roads, wherever the traffic isn’t going. Somehow I have spent over an hour riding nowhere. I have eluded the need for a smoke and as I ride the now busy road home, another rider darts in and out of traffic, a sporadic bullet firing blankly. Approaching the corner, the stoplight yellows and the rider squeezing between vehicles, burns the red light alarming the SUV intending the same dangerous move through the now red light. Foiled.

Undaunted, I travel onward and signal left and turn on my home street. The vehicle in front of me has a license plate holder telling me they graduated from BYU. I travel a mental image to some unknown desert for merely a moment and feel cleansed and refreshed, I can return home now, lips nicotine free.

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