Why a motorcycle?
The itch that I hope to scratch on this trip is a lifelong compulsion to ask "why?". The urge to push every button, peek out every window, and open every door just for the sake of knowing what's behind it has only intensified since I was a child. For a person cursed with this compulsion a trip like the one I have planned is borderline-therapeutic. Planes are fast, convenient, and safe, but my trip is not a vacation and therefore is not about hopping from one destination to the next. On my trip the "destinations" will just be the punctuation; the real experiences lie in those countless miles of pavement, gravel, dirt, and mud between the "destinations". The intimacy of riding a motorcycle across a landscape is impossible to duplicate in more "convenient" modes of travel. Ted Simon, the messiah of international adventure riding, described seeing the world by motorcycle this way:
"In spite of wars and tourism and pictures by satellite, the world is just the same size it ever was. It is awesome to think how much of it I will never see. It is no trick to go round the world these days; you can pay a lot of money and fly round it nonstop in less than forty eight hours, but to know it, to smell it and feel it between your toes you have to crawl. There is no other way. Not flying, not floating. You have to stay on the ground and swallow the bugs as you go. Then the world is immense. The best you can do is trace your long, infinitesimally thin line through the dust and extrapolate."
For me, riding a motorcycle part adventure and part meditation. Those moments of high-revs, tearing through corners, and doing the ton are exhilarating but also fleeting compared to the unparalleled bliss of the open road. You can not help but to respect the land when you are enveloped by it, to feel the strain of each hill you climb and the pull of every curve. Once-unique landmarks become mere characters within the story that the Earth tells.
In this context you have no choice but to acknowledge the fact that one person's existence is extraordinarily insignificant in time and space. In those moments, colors become more vibrant, scents intensify, the wind feels cooler as it washes over you, and the sunlight seems to drip like warm water through your gear to uncovered patches of skin on your arms, neck, and face. It is true that you are nothing but an interstellar speck, but you are also fortunate enough to be a speck with a choice. You can stay suspended in space or see what you can of this great big universe and, with any luck, shine as you do it. Out there on the road, these thoughts give me clarity and peace as they turn over and repeat in my head like the engine underneath me for moments that can not be measured in time, only in miles. These miles are my mantra.