“…regardless of the scientists that insist my efforts would be better spent unearthing clues to where the wild things went”
After two days of steady, warm summer rain, I pull into the Mega-Lo Food Trough parking lot where the familiar childhood scent of earthworms on wet pavement fills my olfactories with its heady waft. A dozen or so people with harried suburban lives deny me eye contact as they shuffle past clutching their precious bags of mass marketed, synthetic resin disguised as food. Two obscenely large glass doors trimmed with enough brushed aluminum to build a small car, yield to my feather haired touch of the red button. Two thousand cubic feet of air-conditioned atmosphere whooshes past me as the gates of Hades open to reveal the wretched excess of our time on the other side of this monument to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
Everywhere are the fruits of a petrochemical engineer’s labour transforming the decay of ancient reptiles into the products we use to satisfy our insatiable consumptive whimsy. Behind the row of dutifully attired cashiers flashes an array of LED screens scrolling softly pulsating menus designed to calm the cattle waiting in queue for their purchased allotment of Soylent Green.
Scanning the room further, I am but a blink away from developing a nervous facial tic as I take stock of all that faux oak wall panelling. That in of itself would have been enough to convict the interior designer responsible but add to it faux leather chairs, faux glass fixtures, faux ceramic floors, faux marble tables and well, you get the point. Even the oxygen in the room seemed to lack sincerity. I crack a crooked smile at the sad, beautiful art of it all.
Ahh…but there is hope.
And she’s sits outside, warm bits softly clicking as they contract in the cool shadow of the only shade tree for a city block. The sound vaguely reminiscent of a Palomino working on the bit before the promise of a day’s run. The parking lot automatons betray the glitch in their programing when I see their gaze lock on my two-wheeled conduit to freedom. They instinctively know by her scarred, weather beaten frame that she’s laid rubber to earth in many far off places with unpronounceable names.
A sigh is breathed before two off tempo steps are taken and they’re back on the rails of mediocrity, numbly careening headlong towards a secret dystopian existence. Looking at sweet, gritty old Agatha through tempered panes, I fight the urge to bolt from this throng of humanity waiting in line for conveyor belt meat.
She and I have just spent the morning testing the limits of physical law, straining sinew and filling my lungs with a thousand subtle scents of the great blue marble spinning beneath. The fire behind my eyes, stoked by the memory of intensely flashing watercolour hues of blue, green and brown is nearly quenched by this current need for protein, carbs and life giving h2o.
“Sir…sir, are you ready to order?”
Shaking the stupor from my little brain nestled safely inside 4 inches of skull, I fumble though a mud crusted wallet and hand the cashier a bill dirty enough to be considered an insult. She makes change with a corporate grace that can only come from years of subjugation to the machine and I carry my gastronomic game of chance out to Aggie. Three steps from the cool cover of a gently swaying maple, I pause for a moment of quiet admiration. She and the tree are the only green thing for miles.
How did I get here?
I don’t mean the restaurant, I mean Agatha. Over 35+ years I’ve owned countless motorcycles from cruisers, drag bikes, crotch rockets, motocross, choppers, 6 cylinder luxo barges and everything in between, yet here I sit with an archaic, underpowered thumper with weak brakes, floppy suspension that frankly isn’t going to win any beauty contests. Thing is though, I can’t remember owning a bike that’s had this unquantifiable ability to bring a big wide stupid grin on my face each time I coax her clattering mechanical heart to life.
Now, I’m not for a moment suggesting I’ve discovered the holy grail of motorcycling, let’s face it, there is no such thing as the perfect bike but the more miles I unravel the more I’m convinced the ones we label “adventure” or “dualsport” come pretty damn close. Why? I think it’s because they manage to jack-of-all-trade their way into our hearts by taking the idea of freedom and then add the element of option. In essence, they don’t just get you somewhere.
They get you anywhere.
Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean I’ll never own another machine designed for singular purpose. Let’s be honest, the indescribable glory felt winding out a brawny V-twin on a sunset straightaway or the visceral high from a screaming 1000cc sport bike having its neck rung on tight twisties is like nothing on earth. But long after all those other freedom machines are trailered, covered and garaged, Aggie and I will be exercising our ability to bend the horizon as we careen towards the metaphorical vanishing point. So if you’ll excuse me, I need to finish carb loading my 3000 calorie mochapumpkinfrappaspicechino before this afternoon’s logging road flog fest.
Editor’s Note: After receiving Brokentooth’s story we had to ask him: How popular is Dual Sport in Ontario? The next morning we were pleased to find our inbox was flooded with enthusiastic messages from riders extolling the virtues of riding close to home.
It seems adventure riding in Ontario is alive and well…
Gary Price – Niagara Falls, ON
Greg Kendall – Winnipeg, MB
This past weekend I organized a group ride in the Thunder Bay / Nipigon area.
A group of us, from Manitoba, Minnesota and Thunder Bay joined up and toured the back roads. We traveled to a number of locations with spectacular views (Alexander Landing, Pine Portage and Lake Helen).”
Phil Thompson – Teeswater, ON
“After getting sober from a 20 year mission, I decided I needed to do more things with my family. I was and am not into hockey or baseball, what was I going to do to spend more time with them?
Lorry Gombos – Pickering, ON
“I taught my daughter to ride when she was 11 years old. She took the motorcycle safety foundation course the same month she turned 16 yrs.”