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Sunday, two weeks before Easter



        We got to the Cathedral early. (I have always been early...to everything.) Yet, those who were supposed to chaperone the event were not there, go figure. So we waited, and I waited for Ashley. I had two layers of waiting going on: the event at The Runtyun’s church and the anticipated ride with Ashley.
Sometimes I wonder what all these people think about me, I don’t reach out to them for friendship, they don’t reach out to me either. We nod at each other, and even say, “Hi.” Yet I have little to say to them. I wonder if they think I think... Oh, I don’t know what. They are all nice people, I just can’t identify with them, sometimes I wish I could. We come from different worlds, I can’t know theirs, and they may never know my…path to this point.
Ashely finally showed up, but I could not leave until I knew what was going on with the kids. So we talked. I have never been able to talk with people, but Ashley is a star and carried the conversation well. Finally the Kilted Man arrived and we settled the details and timing of events.

Ashley and me were off. Marshall was our destination. She said she just wanted to ride, to me it meant a ride with no destination, a ride for the purpose of freedom and exhilaration. A ride to feel alive...the thrill of anticipation, fear and thrill of two wheels on pavement sliding into the next turn.
The Grinner finally rumbled to life; it wanted to go, I could feel her excitement and anticipation. She was controlled and predictable as the gears slide up and down, yet I still felt the need to reign her in. Stop lights and signs got in the way of our journey, yet we made it through them with little difficulty.
Finally the road ahead was open. I know this road, it leads to Marshall, a beautiful little place; coffee shops, little stores and a weekend produce market. The road, Riverside Rd, follows the French Broad River north from Asheville, ( It suits my outlook because it goes against the norm, yet still goes to it’s own place.), and like the river, the road has unpredictable turns and shifts. Every time I ride this road, it sends a new direction that makes me focus on the road, the moment. The issues of the moment are clear: am I going to make this curve, is that cop waiting for us?
Time really is not on my mind. Does my pillion know how to follow the road, will I make it through the next turn OK, does she know how to lean?... These things are there, yet they do not take up my thinking time. My thinking goes around many things. Of course the technical aspects; breaking, counter steering, the lean with Ashley, hitting the breaks and feeling her react. All this goes into how I attack this road. By the way, Ashley, may not have much experience with riding, but she has an intrinsic intuition. She is a joy to ride with, I almost do not know she is there, except when we slow down really hard.
We talked over the rumble of the engine, yelled really. Guns and the politics behind them was one of our conversations. She has a few and shoots them. I told her I was thinking about having a firearm, but did not feel I should until I could commit to better training.
We talked about her bf, they are committed and I could feel her dedication to him. She told me of fishing trips and other fun they have together. She could not see my smile.

The road got twisty and a few cars, cages, got in the way, yet we kept on going. Yellow lines were not a problem to my Detroit steel. It found it’s way around those slow cages. The river on the left showed its teeth. The rocks and wild terrain on the left were ragged, yet we glided through them, sliding like an otter down rapids.
We made it to our destination, but the coffeehouse was closed, so we explored an unknown road and found our way back to the river.
I saw we were running a little late so I had my excuse to run this road and see just how sticky the new tires were. There is this one curve that for some reason I never get through easily. On the left side is a rock cliff blocking my view. The road seems to dive away into the river right at the apex and the turn seems to get tighter at odd places.
We rode hard into the curves, and spun out of them. The road was open and I let my Grinner have her lead. That bike is so steady, yet when the turning is happening, it is so nimble. Ashely was perfect behind me, she even reminded me about the speed trap ahead. 
I have said it many times, when riding,  I think of nothing but the road ahead, but I can tell deep inside my shallow brain, the wheels are churning away. Sometimes I will think about something, a story I am working, something with The Runtyun, or maybe work. (We try to avoid that one as much as we can!) Other times I go slower and look at the world around, the rapids on the river, clouds in the sky, a squirrel sitting on an overhanging branch twitching it’s tail.
This run however, was all about the road ahead. We may not have set any records, but I am sure at some places the pavement with smoking after we passed. We made it back to the church on time. I revved the engine to let The Runtyun know I was back. She came over as Ashely and I unwound ourselves from the bike. We talked a minute and made nebulous plans for sometime soon then hugged and said goodbye.
The Runtyun had fun with her friends and I got to ride. We both enjoyed ourselves on a glorious day at the end of winter.

olc

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