It’s all about the swish

Once one learns how, there is no greater joy for a motorcyclist than a well-executed line on a wiggly road. That’s why wiggly roads are so highly prized among the two-wheel crowd.

Photo1A well-executed line is fast, smooth and safe. A celebration of skill. Turns start wide and finish narrow. The line rocks from apex to apex without abrupt or awkward steering, braking, or gear changes. The bike leans without scraping and stays where it belongs, not too close to either the right edge (there be monsters) or the center line (there be bigger monsters). There’s a thrill. There is swish.

From my house, it takes about two hours each way to get to and from the twisties in the mountains. Going and coming, we pay the price in the interstate free-for-all or urban traffic. In hot weather or rush traffic, the last hour home is horrible, no matter how you do it.

The bliss is in the mountains. But only if you know how. My first time in the twisties scared me so bad I could hardly unclamp my hands from the grips, or my bum from the seat. Heavy rain, and the gravel it washed into the turns didn’t help. Mostly, though, it was simply my lack of experience.

Fourteen years, 100,000 miles and three bikes later, crooked roads are pure joy. No anxiety, just fun. The techniques are second nature, reflexive: look through the turn, counter steer, lean with the bike, roll on some throttle, and let the machine do that for which it was designed. Swish! It’s the kind of ephemeral, ecstatic experience we would bottle, if we could, to savor again and again.

It’s good that can’t be. As a fisherman’s hell would be a catch on every cast, a rider’s hell would be a wiggly road that never ends. As long as the swish remains something special, a sweet reward for the relative boredom or downright drudgery of all other roads, it always leaves us wanting more.SAMSUNG

This afternoon would be fine.

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