photographs

I found a box of old photos today from back when film was still used and digital had not yet become de rigueur.

There are photos of my dad and grandparents. It is nice to recall those memories, but sad at the same time. I miss all of them greatly.

I came across photos of old friends, childhood images, and vehicles once owned.

There are also a lot of photos of people who I know I was friends with once upon a time – we are having a fantastic time in the pictures, but I can’t for the life of me remember their names. Obviously, I wasn’t terribly close with them, but it is still a bit disturbing to have all these semi-blank chapters of my life left out of my memory. Well, I remember the events and the circumstances, but I look at the photos and think, “Who the hell were all those people?”

I suppose some of it is how my lifestyle has functioned. I have moved frequently over the years and with a nomadic life tends to come impermanent relationships. I have always had a philosophy that the people I am meant to be friends with and continue to know will continue in my life in some way. We will find ways to stay in touch over the years. If a relationship takes too much work to keep up or the friendship simply dissipates over time, it wasn’t meant continue.

Perhaps this could be viewed as a rather fatalistic way of interacting with relationships, but I’ve found that it is a rather functional outlook. People lose touch with each other. This is just what happens. Because of this knowledge, I rarely mourn a once-friendship that has gone by the wayside through lack of upkeep. I thought that my subscribing to Facebook would screw up that philosophy. I have reconnected with high school friends and acquaintances, and have caught up with various people from my past. However, what I have found is that the people with whom I actually have real friendships with – not just status updates and ‘likes’ – are people who I’ve had a connection with all these years anyway.

The people in the photos who I wonder who they were aren’t real friends or Facebook friends. I lost touch with them for a reason – we had little to tie us together.

Knowing that doesn’t change the odd feeling I get when looking at the pictures. If we had such a lack of connection, why did we hang out back then?

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restless

There is a melody in the exhaust note of a late night solitary motorcycle. It is joyous, melancholy and restless.

Lying awake in my bed after an evening ramble around town, I hear bikes zipping around in the night. Their song isn’t as sad as the lonely freight train, and it’s got a note of rebel in there, but there is a nomadic agitation the lingers.

Maybe it’s just me.

I’ve always had a desire to be on the road, satisfying an almost ever-present disquiet. In some ways it’s easier to be out there. It’s cut and dry. Drive, find a place to crash, shower, eat. No two days are the same. Even on an uneventful day, the terrain changes. The weather, the local’s accents, the food changes. There are adventures, there are calm days. But any problems tend to be very function related: car breaks down, money is short, took wrong exit. Uncomplicated.

I have a nomadic agitation that lingers.

track day

When I was 16 I told my dad that I  history class bored me. He told me that you can only be bored if you allow it. He taught me that day that in any given situation there is always something than can be learned. Even if it’s how your teacher picks his ear with his pencil.

With that in mind, what can I learn from today?

What happened today? I went to this lovely track for a day of riding my motorcycle without cops, cars or cross-traffic, otherwise known as a “track day.”

It started off gloriously. Or at least sleepily. Gates opened at 6am, so we rolled out of bed at the unreasonable hour of 5:00am. After a quick shower and getting ready, we gathered in the lobby at 5:30 and drove the truck and trailer full of bikes and gear and food to the track.

Riders meeting, a bit of socializing, getting gear on and first session and away we go!

The first session is about getting familiar with the track. This track has 21 turns, so it takes a while to get just familiar with it. It is a beautiful track, with elevation changes, lots of twisty turns, lovely desert scenery.

For the second session I turned my GoPro camera on. This will make for some amusing video footage later. It felt good. I was taking it slow, still getting familiar with the turns. As the laps went ’round, I got more confident with the track and my speed picked up.

Since I was riding with the novice group, I signed up to receive instruction. The third session I had an instructor who I followed around. He showed me good lines to take through the turns. We pulled into the pit mid-session for feedback and I was let loose to go through what I had learned on my own. My riding was smoother. It feels absolutely incredible when I take a corner or series of corners well. Fluid, easy and crystal clear. I leaned the bike over further than I had before and it felt great.

In the fourth session we concentrated on the first three corners. My instructor showed me good lines, marking points and other things to look for. I nailed them and it was fantastic…until I got distracted.

One of the things about riding is that you have to hone your skills of concentration. Like muscles, you have to build up stamina. If you aren’t practiced, it is easy to lose concentration. Little things can cause a loss of concentration, and once it’s gone can be difficult to get back. At least for me.

Somewhere mid-session four, I lost my concentration. I think I made the mistake of looking over my shoulder. I started to think. I blew a corner. I started having trouble seeing my lines and knew I needed to take a break. I pulled in and went back to camp.

Luckily, it was lunchtime and I caught a little nap. Only getting a few hours of sleep certainly didn’t help.

After lunch I went out for another session. I found that I was still having trouble keeping my lines and when I blew a couple of turns, I decided I was done for the day.

It’s frustrating sitting on the sidelines. I wanted to go back out, but I knew that I was fatigued. I was left with a feeling of disappointment. What had I learned? At the moment, I didn’t know.

I let my thoughts percolate through the afternoon. It wasn’t until the evening that I was able to see how good I’d done. I had accomplished a lot in my sessions on the track.

It is important to go back to the basics. There is always something to be learned. If you blow a corner, what happened? What did you do that would not be a good idea to do again? What went well and why? Simple questions, simple answers. And the most important question is: Did you have fun?