Journeys Near and Far

Far too often we talk about the far-flung and the exotic, but what of the journeys closer to home? The amble down a country lane with a Robin’s nest spied in the hedgerow, the walk to the shops for a nice piece of fish and the conversations with neighbors met along the way. These are our daily journeys replete with their own milestones, discoveries, and ceremonies.


Spring is upon us (finally) and with changing weather patterns comes a change in our daily routines. The bike, no longer reserved for late afternoon binges or weekend miles, becomes a part of the order of things. A way to link new sites and sounds as one goes about the day. The tracings of a sensory map.


A press of the ignition and the bike thrums to life. The smell and sounds of combustion filling the darkened garage. Leather and petrol mingling in the combined space as helmet and gloves are donned. Clutch in and the bike rolls forward out of the dark and into the early morning sunlight. A crunch of tire on pea gravel and the heady assault of blossoming Confederate Jasmine and Tea Olive as speed gains down the long drive. With a soft bump, gravel joins asphalt and we are moving out into the world. Suburban scents of cut grass and sprinklers mark the demarcation zone of home and away.


A snarl of traffic brings an abrupt halt and the helmet visor goes up. Exhaust fumes from a city bus, a cigarette smoked from an open passenger window, a line of children filing into a primary school. The bike heats up and the motor’s staccato signal rises then evens out, impatient to be released from  the congestion. Finally a hole in the traffic. Quick acceleration passes a lumbering Rover followed by an abrupt deceleration as an alleyway, offering escape, is spied in the periphery. A fast turn onto pock marked and oil flecked asphalt and the pong of an overfed dumpster….All quickly forgotten as the bakery is passed, open doors pumping that wonderful yeasty scent into the morning air.


We are clear and moving onto the relatively open space of the freeway. As the bike accelerates up the ramp the summery smell of creosote and railroad ties find us and the lumberyard can be seen off to the left, exactly as it should be.  We go up a gear with visor down and wind buffeting as the engine pitch rises. The asphalt snicking by as we circumvent the city skyline. Lost in the melding of man and machine I wish we could press on towards a snake-like two lane up in the hills to ride fast sweepers on a mountainside. ..and just as quickly, it’s over.


A series of downshifts and the bike resonates loudly under an overpass and then past a tangle of honeysuckle on the corner. Kickstand down and helmet off, the door opens into a treasure trove of fabric and leather, soaps and shaving creams. Someone is making an espresso while elsewhere a smoky Lapsang is brewing. The beginnings of another inspired day at Imperial Black.



select images courtesy of Moto Guzzi


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