Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

I can't remember if I read Robert M. Pirsigs book before I got a motorcycle or not, but I believe it was before. I have read the book about three times now and am going to read it again.
The first time I read it, I skipped most of it, only reading the parts about the motorcycle trip from Minnesota to Montana. I didn't read the underlying story as it seemed to be too deep and complicated for my liking.
Within a few pages of reading the book he sums up what I feel like when I am riding my motorcycle.

You see things vacationing on a motorcycle in a way that is completely different from any other. In a car you're always in a compartment, and because you're used to it you don't realize that through that car window everything you see is just more T.V. You're a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame.
On a cycle the frame is gone. You're completely in contact with it all. You're in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming.

I am in the scene, I am out in the open, the sights the smells are all there touching me, it makes a guy feel alive, in control. Most times when I climb on the bike for a ride, wether it is a short jaunt or a tour of some kind, I can't help but smile to myself, the feeling of freedom and horse power washes all the cares of the day away. Even on a tour last fall where we encountered rain and snow showers I was laughing, so happy to be in that moment. The road was slick, visibilty was poor but the heat and sound rising from the engine, and the impossibility of it all, made for a great ride.
While surfing the net I came upon a site that contains original photos of Pirsigs now famous ride.
He is an unassuming looking fellow but the photos tied all the loose ends together and re-established my link to the book. I found my paperback copy, the pages are yellowed and dusty but in surprisingly good shape and ready for another read.
If you are interest and want to dwell on it further , here is the link to the site;

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