Living Off the Slab Blog
Finding the Other Road

Each time I get on my bike I have a great time, enjoying the wind in my face and the freedom of the open road, but every so often I am fortunate enough to have an almost mystical experience. I know that sounds rather sappy but if you are a motorcycle rider you know exactly what I mean. There are those days, when the weather is warm, the roads are smooth, and everything just clicks.

On one particular day I took a ride out to the central Massachusetts town of Barre. The local Victory dealer was having an open house and some of the guys and gals form the Massachusetts Bay Victory Riders Club were heading out to show their support. It sounded like a great excuse to ride, so I plugged in the iPod, cranked up some Jimmy Buffet and headed North on interstate 495.

After a short 30-minutes I exited onto route 62 heading west into the more sparsely populated areas of the Bay State. I road through the beautiful town of Clinton, and then deeper into the rural countryside. The winters can be brutal up here in the northeast, but springtime in New England is a time of rejuvenation and re-birth. By early May the trees are turning green and the flowers are blooming again and on this particular day we were experiencing an unusual heat wave, the temperatures were closing in on 90--something we usually don't see until late June or July.

On this day I shared the road with other motorcyclists, groups of bicyclists, and even a few folks on horse back. Everyone was taking full advantage of the glorious gift we had been given. Even though I shared the road with this diverse list of outdoor enthusiasts, I was alone with my thoughts, just me and a few "Parrot Head" favorites.

I do not know how many of you watching (or reading) this are Jimmy Buffet fans, but for me as a motorcyclist his music really speaks to me. Even though most of Mr. Buffet's music is about sailing and the life on the "open ocean," I see parallels for those of us who enjoy life on the "open road."

A sailor must have respect for the sea and be willing to manage the risks necessary to reap the rewards of being set free on the ocean. Likewise, we as motorcyclists must respect each back road and super-slab, understanding their individual risks and rewards. For me, and I suspect for most of you, the rewards are more than worth the risks. It is this sense of freedom, of going against the grain that speaks to me when I listen to Mr. Buffet's songs.

For those of you who just don't understand why anyone wants to wrap their legs around a v-twin engine, I will share a secret with you. See inside every little boy, inside every man--and woman who rides a motorcycle is an explorer, a pirate or a cowboy seeking the next adventure. For most of us, society teaches us to burry these urges. We are taught to "play it safe," to accept the same old, same old and our place in the mundane. But what we really want, is the adventure, the challenge, and yes, even the risk. For it is the risk that let us know we are alive.

The motorcycle is the modern day equivalent of the cowboy's horse and on this particular day I heard a song that I have listened to many times before, about a cowboy, his horse and making that great escape. But on this day, while sitting on my bike, it spoke to me even more than usual. The song is called "Take Another Road" from Jimmy Buffet and the Coral Reefer’s 1989 album "Off to See the Lizard."

Seen the false horizon fade away like bison
Headed for the jungle, the cowboy can't endure
Never look back, that's what he swore
I'll take my pony to the shore
somewhere, somewhere

Take another road to a hiding place
Disappear without a trace
Take another road in another time
On another road in another time>
Like a novel from the five and dime
Take another road in another time

On that day, listening to that song, I wanted to ride off into the sunset and not look back. I wanted to forget about all the crap going on in our world, to get away from the hustle and bustle and find that "other road."

But as the day grew longer and the road stretched it legs, I realized that I was already there!

There is no special place that I need to go in order to find adventure. It is all around me. It lives inside me. Each day when I get up, walk out the front door and throw a leg over my bike, I am living a new adventure.

That "other road" is right there in front of us, all we have to do is take it!

Ride safe my friends!
--Craig Ripley

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