Episode 51: Motorcycling the Cowboy Way

EP51: Motorcycling the Cowboy Way

I’m drawn to open country.  It’s where everything becomes clear.  It’s where the world makes the most sense.  When I put myself out there, I always return with something new.  The best journeys are those that answer questions that in the beginning, you never thought to ask.

I’ve watched it over and over again.  The movie, or you may call it, the 2010 documentary, called 180 Degrees South: Conquerors of the Useless.  Great title.  The quote from the movie  is from Jeff Johnson. 

So what does an environmental film about a journey to Patagonia, featuring surfing and mountain climbing have to do with the joy of motorcycling?  Oh, just about everything.  Stay tuned.

My heroes have always been cowboys.  And they still are, it seems.  Sadly, in search of, and one step in back of Themselves and their slow-movin' dreams.  

Those words may be very familiar to some.  And those who know the song, also know the artist, AND may recognize that it’s the second time lately that I’ve referenced a song sung by, of course, Willie Nelson.  The 1976 song is called My Heros Have Always been Cowboys.  It’s beautiful really.  Not a typical country song.  It has full orchestration.  Yeah, a very pretty song.  A couple of episodes back, we explored Luckenbach, Texas, and the song by the same name, sung by Waylon Jennings and yep, his buddy Willie Nelson.  You may be wondering, hum, is there a theme here?  Maybe.

In the song "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys," the narrator thinks about his childhood dream.  While the young man in the song was dreaming of becoming a cowboy, so many folks out there dream of owning and riding a motorcycle.  If they haven’t ridden before, they too, learn some of the challenges of riding a motorcycle, especially if they don’t have the right gear.  It’s those that go out without knowing the values of protection against the wind, sun and rain; I think those are the folks that give it up and forever park or sell the bike.  Just a theory.

In many ways, I feel like a cowboy when I ride.  You don’t see cowboys on horseback wearing shorts and sandals and no hat to protect them from the sun.  They know how to dress the part.  So do we on our motorcycles.  I like dressing the part.  My sister once commented that I looked like a spaceman with my full face helmet and full gear.  Ha ha.  Well, OK.  

I always ride in full gear.  It’s comforting.  I feel safer and frankly I like to look like I know what I’m doing.  The picture I used for this week’s episode, yeah that’s me.  I was way out in the mountains.  Propped by phone on my bike and set the timer for that picture.  When I was returning home from that ride in the mountains, me and my bike were pretty dirty from the dusty roads out there.  I stopped at an intersection when a highschool aged young man stared at my bike as he drove past and did the hang-loose sign with his fingers.  Big smile on his face.  That felt good.

It doesn’t have to be an Epic motorcycle journey of weeks or months on the road to find yourself feeling like an adventurer.  Feeling like a cowboy out on the range.  If we craft it well and have the right mindset, it could be just an afternoon ride that takes us to a place of adventure.  Just going to a place we’ve never been.  

We’ve shared in previous episodes about journeys into open spaces.  Places we’ve never been before.  Often going alone.  If you’re like me, I’ve never felt lonely on a solo motorcycle trip.  Even crossing into Canada, going through Alberta and British Columbia on a solo trip.  Never felt lonely at all.  Certainly felt a little lost a time or two, but not lonely.  

I suppose it’s because so often, people will talk with solo riders at gas stations, cafes and coffee shops.  Folks seldom come to a cafe table and talk with a large group of motorcycle riders, too intimidating I suppose, but they are more likely to stop and say hello to a single rider.  I’ve experienced that over and over again.  That’s not loneliness at all.  I’ve also had every confidence that if I found myself on the side of the road with a bike issue I couldn’t resolve myself, someone would most certainly stop.  That’s community and it most definitely exists out there in the open country.  I’ve seen it.

Whether it’s imagining yourself as a cowboy, or some kind of adventurer, riding a motorcycle takes us to a new space and time.  It’s hard to explain, isn't it.  As for me, out on the dirt roads up in the mountains, often standing on the pegs and riding slowly, yep, I’m a cowboy.  

Just like Jeff Johnson said in that movie, I too am drawn to open country.  Out there, the world does seem to make the most sense.  

I’ll close with this quote from Lee Gutkind from Biker Fever.  He said “A motorcycle can change the quality of our lives because it is indeed a machine that can harness a spirit. On a motorcycle riding the road, hugging the wind we can discover the joy of solitude. The Rebirth of Independence.”

 Well said, Lee.  Maybe that independence is indeed the Cowboy Way that Willie sang about.  Because from the saddle, you and I know, that the world makes the most sense .  

As always, thank you for listening.  I wish you peace.  I wish you love.

Music by 

Geoff Harvey and Olexy from Pixabay

Brett Wilson