My Triumph is about 500 pounds’ worth of steel and gasoline. It’s a machine that takes me across time and space, it heightens my senses and sharpens my consciousness. It’s evolved to suit my riding style and personality -to know the bike is to know the rider. I’ve modified the bike to my taste: painted it in colours from a bygone era, changed the exhaust (loud pipes save lives), intake and fuelling systems, fitted tires that can handle our limestone gravel roads, and made a bunch of deeply esoteric improvements.
This machine is a buddy, we’ve been down many roads together. I look after it, and it looks after me.
Each ride is preceded by meditation and a series of little rituals, they’re all automatic now. I decide on whether or not to ride based on weather, time of day and where I’m headed. Then I suit up in my armoured boots, trousers, jacket, helmet and gloves, carefully fastening each button and strap and zipper.
I keep a photo of my Nonna Maria next to my insurance, in the jacket pocket over my heart. Before I leave, I tell my wife that I love her. There’s no unfinished business, all my messages have been delivered and I’m ready to go. I approach my bike. There’s a little bell strapped to my brake lever, my friend Darrell gave it to me -it’s meant to scare off the “road gremlins” that would ruin a rider’s day. I understand why I’m gearing up, and the risks that I’m choosing to take. Every time I prepare to ride my motorcycle, I think about Death. Then I start the engine and choose to live my Life.
It’s alive now, the 865cc twin cylinder engine happily burbling and barking as I feed it throttle. First gear selected, and I’m off and moving. Soon I’m on the open road and I’ve entered a trance, a flow state where there’s no before or after. I’m concentrating on the road 12 seconds ahead, aware of what’s around me, but not specifically. I know that a deer could jump out of the brush on the 12th Concession, or that there could be a patch of loose gravel mid corner, so I trust my awareness and have faith in my muscle memory. I’m one with the machine now, just a consciousness hurtling through time and space on a burbling, pulsing wave of torque and sound.
That sound carries me to Markdale, where the crack of combustion echoes off of the old brick buildings on Main St. -it’s like they’re talking back to me. In Kimberley, there’s a delicious <<Ba Baba Bap Bap>> on the overrun heading down hill on Rd.30. In Hepworth, stopped in front of the old Spencer House, the exhaust pings and dings as it cools at rest. Senses are heightened when I ride. I feel the changes in humidity on my skin, the warmth of the sun on my jacket. Colours are brighter, I smell the grass, the apple blossoms, the manure.
When I reach my destination and I’m enjoying my coffee or burger or butter tart, I’m calm, present, a little bit better. My psychological paperwork has been sorted inside my helmet, and it’s time to head back, a few more miles down the road on my bike.
Words and photos by Rob Iantorno