The ride after the ride

I just learned a ton. Honing a new skill in an intensive learning environment for three weeks straight. Surrounded by Motorcycle Safety Foundation teachers, racers, tour guides, industry journalists, and other riders so seasoned they’ve been riding since before I was born. Most of them were older than me, although sometimes it was hard to tell. Motorcycles are a time machine — they keep people young.

Many of them mentioned it was “up to me” now. “Next time, you do it,” Alisa Clickenger said, after one particularly long day in Colorado Springs. Now, producing events is one thing — I do that for a living already. Who knows what’s possible on that end. But the riding part. What about when I go back to my regular life? My CAR?! Without riding every day, I will forget how to do certain things and my skills will begin to erode. Without the Sisters Centennial Ride community around me, I will have to start from scratch, solo.

Or… maybe not. I have some friends who took the MSF course with me back in November, who are intelligent, strong young women. Maybe we will build up our collective skills and ride off into the sunset together. But in order to make this happen, there are things I will need to give up in order to give this the attention it deserves. Can I do that? Will I do that? Eat, sleep, ride, repeat? Life on the edge, full of love, in the moment and prepared for anything? Track days and dirt bike school? Or should I not worry about it too much, knowing that riding and the motorcycle community is always there for me, whenever I’m ready to join it again?

Or is it fruitless to try to recapture something that, in its very essence, was fleeting? Not only is riding an exercise in temporality, the Sisters Centennial Ride itself was an assemblage of people who will likely never be in the same place at the same time ever again. And that’s why it was so special. Like the dance floor in the club space at Islington Mill on July 20, 2013 during Bill Campbell’s 40th birthday (when we as CHERYL and collaborators the Volkov Commanders and Positively Destructive created an event called Psychic Rhythm Abduction), it’s been a party on wheels that will be hard to top anywhere, ever.

So I guess I’m unsure as to what’s in store yet. I gotta pay the bills, and my job as Event Producer at Basilica Hudson is a demanding one. And I’m an artist, with a collective that I’ve been absent from for some time. And I’m part of other communities — of artists, musicians, nature lovers, weirdos — who have nothing to do with motorcycles. Actually, it’s kind of a feat in and of itself that I was able to do this ride at all, considering all the other stuff in my life that has nothing to do with riding.

At the AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days, a woman posed the question to my cousin Skyler and I — did we feel obligated to do this? Or was it coming from a place of real interest and love? Sure, there was obligation there, to fulfill some sort of cosmic family legacy, I suppose. But also — to quote my good friend April F. Greene — I am an “experience junkie.” Why the heck would I turn down the opportunity to expand my realm of experience? Back in Springfield at the museum, Queena Quý mentioned she understands the burden of upholding the family legacy, as she comes from Vietnamese royalty. It can be a weird task. But in this case, at least it also meant getting acquainted with a whole new world I knew nothing about.

I’ve always loved exploring subcultures; once you’re deep in, you don’t even notice the bubble. Motorcycling is one of these things, but as you get deeper in you realize there are many disparate communities, bound only by a single thread of two- (sometimes three-) wheeled riding.

As I said above, most of the people on the ride were older than me. When I started I expected there to be more interest from people my age. I thought motorcycles were having a “moment” in popular culture again? People my age were interested in them? But upon further examination and after speaking with two female peers and seasoned riders I met on the last day (both riding Kawi Vulcan S 650s into SF with us), Joslyn Petty, PR rep for Kawasaki, and Jessica Kline, a Canadian Moto blogger, they explained that the renewed interest is more from the surface-laden, Instagram-heavy zone of millennials; young women with feathers in their hair buying vintage Hondas, riding gear-less, doing it for looks. Not riding 350+ miles in a day. Huh. Ok.

There’s gotta be room for more. I can’t be the only new rider who has fallen in love with the concept of long-distance riding. I can’t be the only one who is interested in the continued legacy of women pushing boundaries on motorcycles — women I had the pleasure to meet and ride with, like Sarah “SeCCRet” Moreau and Erin Sills.

Also weird that the motorcycle industry isn’t playing up alternative transportation more, to garner more interest from cyclists (or former cyclists like me). As I mentioned in an earlier post, Critical Mass is a successful way of alerting the general public about why bicycles are important. Why isn’t there a similar kind of thing going on with motorcycles? Could there be?

No matter what happens, I know I will keep exploring, learning from the amazing people in the motorcycling community who stopped at nothing to overcome unspeakable odds. It’s time to go home. My train stops in Hudson, NY in a few minutes. I will step out into the Northeast once more, vowing to receive what comes my way with love.