For those of you who don’t know, I just returned from a 5-day motorcycle trip around Lake Michigan – that’s up one side of the water, then back down the other. Regretfully, I don’t actually know how to drive a bike; but after my butt sat still for 1200+ miles on a six-inch foam pad, I’d like to think I earned some points for being a rockstar passenger.
On that note, being a passenger is a privilege I never knew existed. I mean, in what other capacity can you score a front-row (well, back-row) seat to the most beautiful, unobstructed views in the country?
But beyond what you see, riding is about what you feel. I’ve driven a car to millions of destinations. And while I’m grateful for a vessel that moves my body, I didn’t realize there was one that moves the soul. Getting on a bike forced me to leave behind a life of name-brand shampoo, regular Tweeting, and pricey cocktails for a few days. And guess what? I didn’t hate it.
Riding is a lot like what I imagine pregnancy to be. Everyone thinks it’s cool and beautiful – and it is – but all that glitters isn’t necessarily gold when you’re on those back, country roads. My hair ratted into a bird’s nest after 10 minutes. Our motels were straight out of a horror movie. I was wind-burned, sun-burned, bug-burned, and butt-burned by the end of everyday. I frequented McDonald’s (hey, what happens on a road trip, stays on a road trip) and challenged my bladder to a game of Chicken more than once.
Modern plumbing woes aside, stripping life down and living like a cross between a cowgirl and a Goonie was, quite frankly, nothing short of awesome. We waved to about a hundred fellow bikers, stumbled in to some of the best Mom & Pop shops out there, slammed giant ice cream cones before noon, played cards and took naps in the grass while waiting for trains to pass. Not a bad gig after all, huh?
Maybe you won’t get to take a bike trip this summer – or ever. But if I learned anything from this trip (besides that being pelted by rain at 80 mph is excruciating), the trick to experiencing the same enjoyment is in authenticity. Because whether you’re cruising or cubicle-ing, the mere fact is this: mascara will run, clothes will get dirty, and 4G will cut out. But what sticks – and what matters – is the daily determination to get somewhere in life.