The Mighty Viking

Conquering those things we must, one story at a time

Night Rides.

The light of the day drains into the west as the sun passes the horizon, taking with it the din of the visual world, the noise of the city, the highway and its traffic, and of the emerging beauty of rugged landscape as the bike and rider climbed the grade leaving the business of the day behind. The bike’s powerful rumble shifts from harmony to strong, purposeful melody. As the world of light shrinks and the day’s energy fades, the single headlamp slowly rises to its purpose, marking the grey track before it, calling attention to the single most important bit of information the rider needs to continue on. City lights fade in the southern distance as fast as they flicker on, and on the northern horizon nothing can be seen but the vague silhouette of the next distant mountain range, illuminated by a thin sliver of moon through the broken clouds. Soon, even that outline disappears, and the world is reduced to three – the road, the motorbike, and me. A voluminous sense of peace settles into its nightly rhythm, the only thing that can be heard over the sound of the motorbike’s engine drone. We ride alone together, we three, and the whispers of stories catch my ear. The bike and I do our best to get the road to tell us its stories.

The stories that emerge are but tales I already know, thoughts that have been stashed in pockets of my mind for the chance to give them their due when the time is right. The thoughts that have been drowned by the brilliance of the day, now sparkle from the shadows like gems in the pavement ahead of me. They are of a different stock than the thoughts of day, they are connected more closely in this smaller realm rolling through blackness held back by one shaft of light. These stories – of other riders that have passed this way, of truckers hauling their freight from dock to dock, men crossing the country to rejoin their family, of families with their children migrating, scurrying over this untamed wilderness to a new life – these are also my stories. This rhythm that I’ve settled into, after cresting the dark mountain pass’s twisting climb, settles into a long stretch across these highlands with slow, sweeping corners. The people in the stories of this road are individuals, not the throbbing masses of humanity of the city, I can see their faces sometimes, they look back at me with the recognition of one human to another. While the bike’s headlight searches for meaning ahead of me, my mind’s headlight does the same.

And so, the tales are told, the highway’s wind whistling past, the bike’s engine thrumming like a piper’s drones, and sometimes, like tonight, even the night itself stops what it’s doing and listens in.


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