You’re Holdin’ the Bars to Tight!



With the BMR freshly behind us, so many memories are swimming around in my skull: time spent with brothers I may only get to see once a year; the crazy shit that went on during the late hours; and the priceless days with my brother Keith who was on his first long trip in over fifteen years.

I know I’ve written about this man several times. If you haven’t read any of those editorials, Keith was my inspiration as a kid and in spite of that we never had the opportunity to take a road trip on bikes. Just as I was getting into it heavy, he was putting it down to raise his daughter as a single father. Of all the things I remembered about Keith from back then, his killer choppers, his badass attitude and well documented ability to scrap, I didn’t remember him bitchin’ so much. Let me explain.

Our trip was no sunny day ride and the truth be told, it started with what was probably the worst four-hundred miles of my life on two wheels. The rain came down in buckets, and to add to that, it was cold as hell. I had lent Keith my Tourmaster suit but it still needed rain proofed so he was soaked by mid day. And that’s when the bitchin’ started; it continued for the next couple hundred miles. The next day his charging system went on the fritz and yep, you guessed it, more bitchin’. At one point, it got so bad that I actually started to let it bum me out. I mean, here we were on that first trip I waited all these years for and he was a drag.

By that night, the rain was gone, we had put a new stator in his bike and we were sitting around the campfire at Wheels Through Time when he looked at me and told me he was having the time of his life. ‘There it is,’ I said. He asked what I meant and I told him, ‘You’re finally letting go.’ I continued and explained that he was holding the bars too tight and it was spoiling his trip. You know, like when you ride the twisties with stiff arms, clenching your teeth, by the end you’re just worn out. This was the case with Keith and it took the first two days of that trip to wear away the buildup of worries and annoyances that come from ordinary life. He was now where he could just lighten up and except things for what they were and roll with them. He was in a great place for this kind of enlightenment though, I mean even his charging issue showed him what a good group it is that we roll with. Practically by the time his bike quit, other cats rolled out tools and parts to get him back up and running. Once he realized that he didn’t have to worry like we do back in the real world, the good times were all around him. The rest of the week we spent diggin’ life on the bike; Keith was like a new man. He laughed more than I’ve seen him do in years and had finally eased up on his grip.

This is the case in every day life as well; hold the bars too tight and you just wear yourself out. I found that even though I had been giving Keith this lesson during our motorcycle trip, the metaphysics of the motorcycle would put it back in my own face by the time I got home. I had also been holding the bars too tight and it was wearing me out. I talk too often about how being off the road is back to real life while I need to pay attention that it is one and the same. There is nothing that says I can’t take a lighter grip on things once I’m back in that “real world” and get more enjoyment out of it.

Overall, I guess I’m saying that both Keith and I bitch too much. In the end, the trip was an adventure of a lifetime both because we shared it with each other and also for the life lessons it gave us when it was over.

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