April 6, 2014

Motorcycling Pressure

"Riding my motorcycle in the wind doesn't bother me. Every time I ride, the wind blows at least 80 mph." ~ Arizona Harley Dude, Paul

Climbing up from Downtown onto the mesas of San Diego, the tangle of highways and interstates cross over one another in a weave of commuters. The mass exodus begins daily around 3pm, culminating into a nightmarish parking lot of tired cagers, paying little attention to the drive, checking their phones, exhausted from another cubical-bound-shitty-day, wanting to be anywhere but in this God forsaken metal and asphalt turmoil. The pressure is on to get home to suburbia and attend to their suburban-lifestyle-duties so they can get back Downtown in the morning to do it again. That pressure lingers in the air, a stench so thick a rider can taste it through the cage exhaust.

Ride those same roads at 10am any day and while the lanes are nearly clear, the pressure remains. The slight change in the altitude, perhaps through some barometric principal, creates a pressure that blows into me as I try to reach the 'burbs. Climbing up the mesa, my Yamaha V*Star lags, not from the grade of the hill, but from an undeniable wind that blows against me.

"You don't belong up here. Go back. Go back. . . "

I hear a voice within me pushing me away from my destination on the mesa.

The wind blows hard against me, pressing upon my chest, tossing my head from side-to-side, forcing me to work for every inch of Interstate. After losing momentum, I roll the throttle forward, yank in my clutch and kick Tatonka down into 4th gear. Rolling back the throttle I feel the power pick up, and we grab our place in lanes. The struggle is short lived as we level out in Clairemont Mesa, home of Korean B.B.Q., Mitsuwa Marketplace, Target and Cycle Gear. The air shifts, giving Tatonka room to catch her breath and kick up into 5th again.

It's at this point that Downtown is surely behind me.

I love Downtown. The bustle of too many people in such a small place, the crazy homeless people who dance for money or beg silently with cardboard signs, the dark, loud bars, the drunken college kids, the out-of-towners who have no idea how to drive a city street; I love all of the energy they bring. If you don't live there you don't know how very quiet the streets are at sunrise, or where you can score free appetizers, pizza and tater tots on a weeknight, or where the best parking can be found.

Living Downtown means walking most everywhere; the market, barbershop, drug store, dry cleaners, post office, bank, library and of course, out to dinner. Before I lived Downtown I was afraid of the homeless, had never heard of a döner, and had never had a private theater in my apartment building.

No matter how beautiful or ugly the past be, moving forward can be hard if one keeps looking back. As the pressure of the climb up the mesa blows against me, it gives me one more reason to long for what I've left behind.

Motorcycling is about the road ahead. I just need to remind myself that I'm not losing my past. I always carry my memories. It's a good thing they are small and easy to pack for the ride.


  1. A good post Sash. I have never lived in a big city but enjoyed wandering around San Francisco and Montreal a time or two.

    I don't know how I'd handle the burbs, but I've always thought it would be neat to live in the heart of a big city where I could walk everywhere.

    1. Trobairitz,

      You would probably love the city, as I do, once you get over the initial "shock". Since you have a certain love of adventure (what motorcyclist doesn't?) the city lifestyle is it's own brand of adventure and excitement. Getting accustomed to the noise and weirdos is the first hurdle. After that, it's all cake!

  2. Tina, you know what they say, "You can take the girl out of the city, but you can't take the city out of the girl." It will always be with you...now's the time to enjoy the burbs and make some more memories.


    Live Free. Ride Hard. Be Happy.

    1. Curt,
      You're so right! What's funny is I've always lived in the 'burbs, but always wanted to live in the city. In fact, when I was a teenager I had big dreams of moving to New York or Los Angeles to try to the big city life. I was with my Mom one day when I was 18 in San Diego and pointed to a newly constructed apartment building saying, "I want live in a place like THAT!" My Mom laughed and said, "You'll never live like that. Those places are for RICH people. You'll never be one of those kind of people."
      That very building was just down the street from the building Steve and I lived in and I looked at that building every evening at sunset, remembering that I can be anyone I choose to be. My Mom was dead wrong.


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