Cycle Therapy

Three hours a week is all he needs

By Al Carlos Hernandez
Published on LatinoLA: April 16, 2002

Cycle Therapy

I make it a point to schedule a three-hour time block during the day once a week to ride my motorcycle, usually down the coast. I call this process my Cycle Therapy.

It is truly liberating to virtually soar like a bird down a windy two-lane road, perched high on a hill, with the green-gray ocean off to the right with white capped waves crashing onto the rusty tan sand below. The stings of the salty air, brisk breeze and wind currents that nudge you back and forth. Pillowly fog blankets, flashing swords of crisp sunlight that illuminate a blue sky ceiling. The hum of the warm engine below.

The trip is always perilous and thrilling, like riding a remote controlled two- wheeled roller coaster. Time out of mind indeed, it's an exuberant experience that causes your mind, body and soul to re-boot and defragment.

There is something about riding a motorcycle that allows you to be a participant in the environment you are passing, through rather than being a glass-enclosed observer. On a bike you can smell the smells, feel the temperature changes, all the while knowing that you control your own fate. Biking gives you a cocky rebellious-type demeanor, and whether you maintain a Harley style, you pilot a Rice rocket, or even sport a BMW, most people who don?t ride think that you don?t have both oars in the water.

Live to ride, ride to live.

Motorcycling nowadays is dangerous with folks amped up on Starbucks, jaw jacking on cell phones while driving with their knees. Two- wheeling has become increasing more perilous. The operation of a motorcycle -- particularly a high powered one -- requires multitasking. You have to balance speed with gravity, sound and sight, while maintaining a Zen-like focus on the road. Anything less and you?re a potential organ donor.

A word of caution: Don?t ride when angry or emotionally upsett. Motorcycling gives you a false illusion of power and road superiority. All you have to do is take a turn a little too fast, causing the back wheel to slide out just a little, and...it's a sobering experience.

Bikers are literally run off the road. People open the doors while you are splitting lanes. Hitting the ground at any speed hurts. That is why people were leather. Riders are encouraged to wear what you want to be wearing if you fall off. A thick jacket, strong boots, two pairs of jeans, (instead of leathers), gloves, a good helmet, and eyewear are necessary.

Come to think of it, this attire also comes in handy if you are a contemporary Latino columnist with a proclivity to diss cartoon rodents.

There are two major adages when it comes to motorcycling. The first is: ?There are two kinds of riders. Those who have fallen off, and those who will fall off.? The other is: ?If Harley Davidison made an airplane, would you ride in it??

I ride what is called a sport bike caf?-racer; a lightweight, high powered 1000cc Japanese bike that causes one to stoop over the gas tank. The riding posture is very much like the one adopted when riding old-fashioned ten speed bicycles with the handlebars that curved down.

These types of bikes are capable of producing incredible horsepower. Some can do three times the speed limit, but if you need to go that fast you need psychotherapy. There should be a law here like in Europe that licenses people to motorcycles based on the bike's size and ones level of riding experience.

Although these Ninja-styled bikes are in vogue and can walk any car on the street, I am finding that after a long ride and being bent forward for miles at time, my neck, back and wrists cause me some serous pain. I end up walking around the house like Fred Sanford, having a hard time straightening out. My Highway 1 therapy, albeit good for the soul, has reeked havoc on my baby boomer body.

During my quiet times of canyon carving I have come to a realization that I no longer need to own the fastest, baddest bike on the block. At this point in my life, it?s more practical to be comfortable then cool.

I am toying with the idea of trading it in for something more conservative that will allow me to ride another day.

Motorcycling is simple, keep the rubber side down and the shiny side up. Not riding -- or writing -- for me, is not an option.

About Al Carlos Hernandez:
Al Carlos is a screenwriter.

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