Hot pink. I look at my ear plugs and pick one up squishing it. The small foam plug expands back to its original form slowly telling me that these ones are fresh. They’re clean too. One by one I put them in my ears but not too far because I want to get them back. As I prepare to slide my helmet on the world of sounds recedes and then everything comes to me from behind two pillows. With helmet on, gloves on, everything attached to me is zipped up, clipped in, and I’m ready to go. The bike starts with a little love, I push down to first with my left foot and pull away taking care to look behind me as I do.
I’ve read that the HWY 101 is one of the most dangerous highways in the US. The first week I was in Ventura I saw more accidents, an over turned school bus, an RV on fire, then I ever saw anywhere else. In my head I crumple up this account and toss it deftly into the nearest waste bin. I’m here for speed. With the rear pegs out I can extend my feet back and lay my stomach on the fuel tank allowing the bike and me to become as streamlined as possible. I can’t fully set my chin down on the tank because of eye rattling vibrations so I keep my neck stiff and decide to pay for it later. The effect of this transformation is instantaneous and I leave any cars behind me swiftly. As I’m sure I become small to those behind me the crap in my head disappears too and my world minimizes to only actions and reactions. Every car I pass has my utmost attention, ready for it to come after me. As I pass I twist the throttle harder gaining distance from it, eyes scan always for the next threat.
It’s cold. The sun is behind layers of flat, grey, stupid clouds. First to go are my knees. I dug up my long underwear for this trip but I don’t think they were designed for wind sheer. Next are the hands. This I can deal with and put out of mind. It hurts but I can stick my left hand between my legs and the throttle hand just kind of locks up in a claw, never leaving the rotating handle. The shivers are what begin to throw me off and steal away with my much needed razor sharp attention. This is the time to look for an out. I need to stop and thaw and find a new route because as much as I hate to admit it I am unprepared for the current temps. A gas station with hot coffee gives much needed relief. Standing in the sun I eat a sandwich with no grace and watch the clouds looking for patterns. Neck is tweaking on the left side, rubbing it with cold fingers feels good. Time to move. Wouldn’t want to catch the dark with no headlights.
Last stretch. I intentionally scare myself a couple of times, tempting whatever it is that controls my life to take it back. Why? I ask myself too. Nothing comes back. I slow down, humbled. With the sun still only flirting overhead, I watch my headlight eat up the pavement and mile markers tell me I’m getting closer. One last burst of speed, engine howling! gets me up my exit and now its time for the going of easy because I really don’t need another soul sucking ticket.
My new home lays like it always has, wreathed with sparrows. Swinging my right leg up and off I touch my toes and just hang, breathing. Smiles all around. Kissing my grandpas head his, eyes light up.