Where do you go to think, and learn?

Yesterday the State of Texas stamped their seal of approval on me owning a motorcycle by again renewing my registration.  OK – they just wanted the $65.  Whatever.

But it had been months and months since I had ridden (was a brutally cold winter).  So I went out today.  For a couple hours. Nothing amazing happened. I did not meet a field of bluebonnets, or a majestic owl.  I just rode a bit.

The thing I like about riding is that I seem to somehow be able to think about things that I am not actively thinking about – much like I sometimes do when I am sleeping.

Problems seem to get solved in the back of my brain while I focus on the road, the smell, the machine and the now.

Very few people that I know like for me to ride.  Most of my friends, almost all of my bosses, and my kids.  None of them really like it.  None of them really get it either.

When I am riding my bike, slicing through the wind, and leaning into the curves – when I am not thinking about kids, or work, or friends, or anything – I come out a better something after.  I come out a better friend, employee, parent, and boss. And a better me.

Riding a bike is something that escapes a lot of people. The freedom.  The sense of release – having to focus enough of your brain on the moment… it lets you forget the stress, the deadlines, the commitments. It lets you find that freedom, for as long as it lasts.

Interestingly enough, a 2 hour recharge can last many months. The promise of the next ride gets me through the times in between.

Not suggesting we all ride motorcycles.  Am suggesting we need something that rejuvenates us this way.

We all need a recharger.  And we all have different ones.

Today I had a different day.

I hadn’t ridden my motorcycle but once in the last 6 months – and that was  a brief trip to the office last week.

When I woke this morning it was already 64 degrees, and not quite fully light.  But before I even brewed coffee I knew I was hitting the road.

As the coffee brewed I prepared my bike, and myself.  While 64 degrees sounds warm I would be riding north, and knew it would get colder – so I layered up on clothing, filled my thermos with fresh coffee, and took off to wherever the wind and whim took me.

Normally when I head out of San Antonio I shoot straight up US281 – the fastest way for me to get to the Texas Hill Country.  But today I headed West first – until I hit Highway 16.  I’d never taken this path before, so it was immediately my favorite path. I love what I do not know.

I was near the town of San Geronimo before I felt I had truly left the city behind.  I visited the “Blue Hole” at San Geronimo Creek, where I stopped to drink my coffee and just spend some time with myself.

I followed Highway 16 in a large slow loop until I reached Bandera.  I thought I had spent time in Bandera before – but I was wrong – I must have had it confused with Blanco or Boerne.  I liked Bandera.  Of course I like Blanco and Boerne as well.

From there I took a slow ride south down HWY 173 to Hondo, TX – a familiar place to me.  After a late breakfast taco I hit the highway for the 40 minute ride back to San Antonio – and home.

I was gone a couple of hours.  Time I needed to spend away from me, and the Internet, my kids and Twitter.

I miss these days where I wake with no plan other then, “get out there and go”.  It’s part of why I hate the winter, which keeps me shut it.

The Spring begs me and my bike to find something new, and amazing.  And sometimes all it takes is me not being here.

Sometimes the journey is all that matters.

Sometimes amazing means nothing less than different.  And today I had a different day.

Random Images

Some random pictures I just wanted to stick up here.

IMG_0077 My New Hobby: I wasn’t really looking for another motorcycle but a co-worker pinged me about a bike he was selling.  It reminded me so much of the first bike I ever owned that I just had to buy it.

This is a 1978 Honda CX500.  Unlike my 900 pound BWM R1200CLC, this is a light little bike weighing in at just under 500 pounds (dry). It needs some work to make it road-worthy, but it is mechanically pretty sound!

Geoff Livingston, author, blogger and really nice guy.  He came to a Tweetup I organized.  This is on the San Antonio Riverwalk, not far from my office. DSC00182
DSC00246 Rocky Barbanica is a  Senior Producer at Fast Company.  He is also the camera genius behind Robert Scoble’s work at Fast Company TV

I’ve had the pleasure to meet Rocky on 4-5 occasions now, and he’s a great guy to hang out with!
Also, in the background you can see John Engates, CTO of Rackspace.  The pictures were taken at the Austin City Limits during the Rackspace Cloud Event

Backstage at Austin City Limits you can find some interesting stuff – including a few cans of Bud Light! DSC00254
DSC00151 Bob and Esther Cole with their daughter Melissa/  Melissa had just graduated from Texas Tech University.

I’ve known “Mo” almost her whole life, and she’s like another of my own children, so I was very proud of her!

A couple weeks ago we went to New Orleans.  We took a trolley out to the cemeteries.  On the way there a car crashed blocking the tracks for about 15 minutes.  As we boarded the trolley to return I joked, “I wonder what happens on the way back”.

Well, this is what happens – this car cut in front of the trolley and we nailed it.  We decided to leave before the police showed up as we were sitting in the back of the trolley and didn’t really see what happened anyway.  We walked the mile or two back to our hotel 🙂


1400 Miles is a Bad Year

I only put 1400 miles on my motorcycle this year – which is pathetic.

What I miss is the stories I’ve been able to share about my rides.

And now it is very cold. And I doubt I’ll have another chance to ride this year (I HATE the cold).

I’m not sure why I didn’t ride much this year.  The new job?  Maybe.  The fact we haven’t had any rain to speak of so we have either been very cold or very hot (or very windy!) – probably.

But as little as I use my bike, I can’t imagine not having one.

It only takes a little bit of the garage; for me insurance is cheap, and all I need is a few hours on her a month and I’m happy.

But 1400 miles a year is pathetic 🙂

After the storm that didn’t come

I woke up very early this morning. Before it was light out. I didn’t sleep well because the threat of storm would not let me.

Yet when I Woke up at 5:30 am, I felt awake. Unlike most mornings where I struggle to operate the coffee pot, this morning I felt clear headed. Which doesn’t make sense.

I had no coffee, I slept less than three hours, and I didn’t sleep well at all.

So going for a motorcycle ride was probably just stupid – especially since it was still dark, and the streets were still wet.

But I hadn’t ridden in a while, and I wasn’t ready to start my daily routine. So I just took off. No coffee. No idea where I was going.

I knew the storms hit hardest towards the northwest of me, so I rode southeast. I rode to China Grove, of the ZZ-Top song fame. I used to come here often with my Uncle, to fish in our illegal fishing spot not far away. We used to have so much fun doing little, and saying even less.

My Uncle has always been a quiet man. Being a Vietnam Vet who was wounded more than once, I never pressed him on what he had been through. But often, in the dark, with a nice little fire, sitting on the side of that creek bank, he would tell me things I know he shared with nobody else. Not his wife, or his own sons, or daughter.

He would tell me stories not of war, or courage.

Not of bravado or beer-brawls.

He would tell me about the people he knew. And although he never said as much, I knew that every person he talked to me about had not made it home. I could tell by the story, and the tone, and the lack of details about anything to do with them after the war. He never mentioned how they died. He never mentioned who they may have killed. He spoke about the person – the guy that wanted to open a hot-dog stand in New York, the guy who wanted to marry his High School sweetheart. The friends he made, and why he remembered them

But I never pressed him for more. I never intruded. I felt honored that he was sharing with me, and I didn’t have anything of value to add to the conversation.

And he didn’t expect me to.

He didn’t want to talk to me about these stories – he just needed to tell them.

And that’s where I sat for about 25 minutes this morning – in China Grove, Texas.

Eventually a fine mist started to fall and I decided I better head home – before the traffic started.

Every time I think I am ready to sell my motorcycle I have a moment like this – something that happens on my bike that just seems to not happen any other time.

And I know that if I sell her, I’ll just buy another. Since this one is paid for, I think I’ll keep her. She is cheaper than Prozac and a Shrink.

And infinitely more effective.