The bike is somehow bigger than I remember. Even though I’ve seen it almost every day in the garage, I haven’t really been looking at it. The motorcycle has been patiently waiting all winter for a nice day and the start of riding season. I pull on my helmet and fumble with the chinstrap. It’s been a while. Gloves on and jacket zipped.
I push the bike off the center stand. The weight briefly surprises me. I didn’t remember it being so heavy last summer. I roll the bike down the driveway and set it on the side stand. Pushing the start button, the engine roars to life. It’s such a powerful sound. Maybe appreciating the sound of engines is just a guy thing? Swinging my leg over, I try to get comfortable. Adjust the mirrors. Blip the throttle a few times ’cause it sounds cool. A tiny flash of nerves in the pit of my stomach. I put it in gear and go.
The first few turns are a bit awkward. I fumble to find the turn signal. Brake a little too hard and have a jerky stop at a stop sign. The tires are brand new, so I’m cautious around corners. The new tires are more aggressive than the previous, more street oriented set. I can feel the vibration through my hands. I don’t have a feel yet of how hard I can push them on the street.
As the miles roll by, the sense of flow slowly returns. I start seeing the corner apex again. Off the throttle, lean and push, then smoothly accelerate through the turn. On a long straightaway I open the throttle all the way and zoom through the gears. The acceleration pushes me back in my seat and the engine roars. I’m grinning inside my helmet.
It’s a little colder than I was expecting. I zip up the jacket all the way. Flip up the visor so I can feel the wind and smell the countryside. My eyes quickly start watering in the cold, so visor back down. I’m certainly not the only one out for a ride. Biker after biker goes by. Everyone gives a wave and a knowing nod. The biker community has been cooped up all winter. We’re all out shaking off the rust and dreaming of warm summer day rides.
I slowly work my way back through town. Now I feel like I have my traffic flow back. That sense of anticipating what cars are going to do. Quick lane changes to accelerate around vehicles slowing to turn into driveways. Pedestrians who launch themselves into crosswalks without looking. My stops and starts are smooth now. I’m in the zone.
I turn into my neighborhood. Glance at the clock. Is there time to ride a bit longer? No, sun is going down. I’m a little cold. We’ll call this a good first ride. It’s nice to be back on the bike. I’ve missed it.