This morning is no different than thousands of days before. My body’s clock now ticks 49 years and one day, and I begin my usual routine. Shave and shower, press and dress. Outside, I insert the key in my ride and turn the engine over. Eighteen hundred cubic centimeters of engine purr to life and the lights come on, illuminating my dimly lit, tree-lined yard. It’s 4:40 in the morning, and there is very little bustle in the world at this time of day, save for the coast of Maine.
I return to the house to kiss my bride and wish her a good day. She kisses me back, and wishes that I have a happy day. I close the door behind me.
I put my helmet on, throw my leg over my 2008 jet-black Honda Gold Wing, and settle into the luxurious seat that tens of thousands of riders around the world know as “the most comfortable ride on two wheels.” I right it, and with a quick jab of the left ankle, the kickstand is up. Engage the throttle, and I’m rolling.
I see not a soul as I travel the miles from inland to the coast, with barely a whisper from the 118-horsepower engine. In fact, the wind whistling through my helmet makes more noise than the engine does. I glide gently along the quiet waters of Swan Lake, the morning fog settling across the road like a favorite blanket. A dozen miles later, I bank right onto U.S. Coastal Route 1. The radio is now blaring the Beastie Boys, and I head through Belfast. As I roll onto the bridge that crosses over the tip of the bay in Belfast, at the mouth of the Passagassawakeag River, I look down to my right and see a small boat anchored. It’s there year-round, and I often wonder what the owner uses it for, since it never seems to leave its anchorage.
Off to the left, the rising dawn sun lights the city of Belfast in Harley-Davidson orange. The lights of night are still twinkling, but the morning rays are reflecting off the perfectly still ocean waters. Another rider, on a Harley, heads north, passing me in the middle of the bridge. We give each other the knowing smile-and-wave combination, both of us acknowledging in a moment, “Ain’t this great?”
It may be true that a machine can’t feel,
but it can make you feel.
The miles fly by quickly now. The rolling hills of Little River and Northport are soon behind me, and I ride the curving, well-maintained roads of Lincolnville. I see the lights on at one of the homes of a co-worker, and I beep. I’ve already been told that beeping when I go by at five in the morning is just fine. Seems no one sleeps late on the coast of Maine.
Lincolnville is now behind me, and the historic downtown city of Camden welcomes me. Here is yet another bay, filled with beautiful boats and the now-brighter sunlight reflecting off the large glass windows of the bank downtown. No patrons at Boynton-McKay this morning getting coffee or breakfast, at least not yet. Perhaps they paused on their way to enjoy the beautiful sunrise. I’d like to think so.
Another dozen or so miles, and I arrive at my destination. My job is calling me, but now with dozens of miles behind me already, it’s still early. I’m the first one here. I pull into the empty lot and choose the absolute best parking spot—of course, that’s the one that lets me see my ride from my desk. I head inside, disarm the alarm system, and settle into my chair. I look out the window and admire that beautiful piece of machinery that gets me to work and back, gets me to recreation and back. That piece of machinery that restores my soul. It may be true that a machine can’t feel, but it can make you feel.
One last loving look, and then I turn to my work, knowing she’ll be there, ready, waiting, when it’s time make the return trip north later in the day.
I’m a rider. Is there anything more glorious than that?