Blokes who have done multi-day trips may be able to relate to The Transformation. If you have not spent many days on a bike, then don’t say I haven’t warned you…
After three days on a bike, you change. You’ve done some good miles, spent maybe 30 hours in the seat, and you’re not the man you were when you left home.
Not much happened the first day. You were maybe tired after six or seven hundred klicks, drank some beer and passed out. Some stuff might have hurt the next morning – neck, arse, maybe thighs if there were lots of corners and you hooked in a bit – but you were fundamentally unchanged.
Day Two was only the beginning of the Transformation – shit maybe hurt a little less at the end of the day, the ring-rust you’d acquired from not doing big miles for months was receding, and you felt…well, better. So you rode better.
And on Day Three you were reborn.
Suddenly, you’re riding very well. Your bike has had all its cobwebs blown away. You sit easy in the seat and you flow through the corners. You’ve even got a ritual that eases those boring bits. You might stand up on the pegs a bit. You will almost certainly put your feet up on the pillion pegs or let your legs flop off your pegs; that tall seat height is suddenly a good idea. You remember most of the words to old songs and you sing them loud, and you make up the words you don’t know. That night, you eat with a new appetite. Your food tastes better. The beer is sharp and clean. You sleep the sleep of the righteous. You sleep the sleep of the motorcycle rider reborn.
After seven days in the saddle, you are no longer the man you were four days ago when you were no longer the man you were when you left home. You have changed again.
You are now a riding machine. You and the motorcycle are one thing – a creature of flesh and alloy, blood and oil. You have the gaze of an eagle as you peer into the distance, seeing hazards and challenges, and welcoming them as fighter welcomes an opponent he knows he can beat the shit out of.
You’re more at ease in the seat than you are out of it. But when you’re not riding you’re walking like a gunslinger. You know exactly which pocket your keys are in, which pocket your smokes are in, where your wallet is, and where your phone is. You’re no longer patting yourself down at each petrol stop like some neurotic weirdo. You’ve learned to look around and through the bugs on your helmet and your skin is always warm. The wind has annealed you and the road has pounded you into a type of capability only big-distance riders ever experience. You’re a long way from home and you don’t much care. The bike is purring, the tyres are still good, and you’re thinking clearly about not much at all.
Four days later, you are another being altogether.
You’ve now transcended mere motorcycling humanity to become The Rider. Corners are nothing but primal joy to carve. You respond reflexively, without conscious thought, to each minute signal the front-end is sending you. You’re able to push harder, and you move naturally with the bike, your entire body thrumming and coping with the vagaries of the road. When people try to talk to you, attracted to your other-worldly mien, you are benevolent, but distant. You no longer breathe the same air as they do. You stand upon Olympus looking down upon the world. You have travelled vast distances. Foreign winds have blasted you and alien suns have seared you. Your dreams have been strange and wondrous – and deep. Your hands feel strange when they’re not holding handlebars, and you no longer walk like a gunslinger. In fact, walking is unnatural. Only riding is true and pure. Only riding further and further, and seeing things as yet unseen has any purpose. Only breathing air you’ve never tasted, the smell of which fills the space behind your eyes with everything and nothing all at once, means anything.
Riding a motorcycle is now the only thing in your life. It is, in fact, your life. The past no longer has any relevance. The future no longer holds any fear. Only the present is real and the present is riding the motorcycle – a motorcycle you will never be able to clean properly again. And you don’t care. Such rubbish once occupied the mind of the man you were a long time ago. It is no longer anything you care to think about.
Your Transformation is complete.
Not many people spend more than 20-odd days on the road. I’ve only done it a few times in my life. The longest has been 27 days of riding.
You want to know what happens on Day 25?
You become God.
But don’t take my word for it. This is something you have to find out for yourself.
Words by Boris Mihailovic