Motorcycle Zen

By Nicole Hallengrogg
7-27-2008

Last weekend I joined with thousands of bikers to ride through Montana and Wyoming's Beartooth Pass Highway. Now if you would have asked me a year ago if I saw myself riding switchback after switchback in leather boots and jacket on the back of a Harley, I would have taken a moment to contemplate, laughed and said "anything is possible, I guess". Now what amazes me the most about this whole experience is why I hadn't done it before.

There's nothing like it.

There's nothing like the wind in my hair, the cool breeze and hot patches of sun warmed road, the balmy segments of valley that feel like hot, moist, summer days back East. The endless snaking road stretched out before me like some great slumbering serpent. The great hillsides giving birth to segmented crimson and golden rock formations shaded into jagged sculptures of earth by sun. The treelines opening like unearthly gates to mountains that jet up to the sky, pointing sharply at the heavens, the snowcapped peaks, river valleys, and high alpine lakes that mirror wildflowers and sky.

There is nothing like the meditative hummm; a loud silence giving room for only breath and sight. It is here that I have let Zen come over me. Holding on to forward, leaving backwards in my past. It is here that I look out upon our world and see the sunset behind white and lavender mountains.

They say that that close to ten thousand bikers showed up for the Red Lodge Rally. Like some huge gathering of leathered monks, we shared these views together and alone; a rumbling sacred silence, a meditation on freedom and beauty.

And yet most people imagine a gathering of this sort to be littered with loud parties, street fights, broken bottles and women dressed in red paten leather platforms and black leather skirts- and no doubt, there was some of that. But there is something more. That gathering, that 180 miles of mountain road, those bikes riding simultaneously staggered along a winding stretch of the most beautiful highway I have ever witnessed is something pretty incredible. There is something about the ride and the rider that lends itself to our desire for freedom and beauty and how we must take it wherever it is or ride to meet it if we must. How every man and women wants to let go of the stuff behind them and move only forward, and look out onto this world with love and appreciation for its magnificence. Our tribute to its beauty is to appreciate it, however we can, and if it takes ten thousand humming motorcycle monks to do it, then so be it.

4 comments:

Gloria Chadwick said...

I really like your post and the idea of motorcycle monks. Your imagery is beautiful. You can find Zen anywhere, anytime, and in any situation, no matter what you're doing.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Gloria for your compliment.
You're right about finding Zen anywhere at anytime. I will keep that experience with me however I travel no matter where I go!
Much Thanks,
Nicole

Anonymous said...

Wonderful experience Nicole! In a Zen kind of way ...

Catherine said...

Good post.