Riding is often the highlight of an otherwise uneventful day, and especially this winter I’ve been enjoying my rides with maximum pleasure in knowing that I’m beating the weather at its own game and riding my ass off in December, January, and February, months during which I’m sometimes grounded for many weeks on end with snow and ice on the ground. While I always enjoy my rides, I’ve had some of the very best lately, not because I’ve gone anywhere significantly grand, but simply because I’m getting time in on the bike that I wouldn’t normally get.
Now when I’m out there on two wheels, I’m just about in the happiest mood I’m in for a day. There’s something exhilarating about any ride, even if it’s just around the corner to drop something off at my Mom’s or to cruise mindlessly about the neighborhood for the sake of being out on the scooter. I often imagine that drivers who are going past me in the opposite direction are envious of the joyful look on my face because I’m sure that my grin is always lighting up what might already be a day full of sunshine.
Because of that amazing happiness, joy, glee, or whatever it might best be called I’ve always imagined my face when I’m out on the scooter to be beaming with a huge smile. I can feel my smile muscles tightening sometimes so much that all I can think of is my mom saying, “If you keep making that face it’s going to stay that way.” In the case of a scooter smile, though, that wouldn’t be such a bad thing. Or so I thought when I decided to mount the newest camera in my arsenal on the windshield of the scooter where it would snap a picture of my delightful smile every 30 seconds.
When I get to the end of my street and hang a left I’m immediately at the beginning of a wooded stretch of road that connects my city with the next town. Although it’s posted at 25 mph, most cars take it at around 45 mph, although occasional scooter riders have been known to do it at 65 or better because it’s a bit like a quick ride on a roller coaster with a few twists and a couple of dips and rises as it meanders through the woods and back into civilization about three quarters of a mile later. Surely the grin would be from ear to ear on my face as I made my way through there.
Guess again. The camera suggested that perhaps I’d lost my best friend rather than have started out on a day that allowed me to enjoy my ride in only a light jacket.
A little ways up takes me past the street on which my best friend lived when we were in high school, and onto which I made a left turn thousands of times between ’72 and ’76. He lives in Boston now, but hardly a day goes by when we don’t share some of the details of our days with each other in an e-mail or two. Surely my face would be lit up like a veritable Christmas tree while passing there! Nope. I looked like a damned funeral director with that somewhat sympathetic yet stoic face that each of them must practice in a mirror for at least an hour a day.
Now, mind you, as I rode and knew that the camera was dutifully capturing my smiles I was extra conscious of the look on my face and was deliberately giving it that shit eating grin that I’m always convinced is on my face when I’m riding. I have no idea why the camera was doing such a lousy job of capturing my joie de vivre, but it wasn’t even coming close.
The longer and farther I rode the happier I was in thinking of the light hearted post that was going to come from those pictures showing my 1,000 watt smiles. With no view finder or screen on the camera itself there was no way of stopping on occasion to see just how much of my happiness was showing, so on I rode just grinning all the way because I was enjoying myself to the max and giving what I just knew were my very best smiles to the camera.
Dear heavens! A scowl even appeared to be on my face at times. How could my smiling muscles be betraying me so much?
All I can think by way of explanation for why EVERY single one of the pictures of my face show me as less than thrilled is that the seriousness of being hyper attentive to my surroundings – the condition of the road, the actions of other drives, the movements of other vehicles around me, potential obstacles in my path – is on my face more than the fun I’m feeling. And if that’s the case, it’s not so bad. I’d rather know that I’m taking the serious precautions that need to be taken when one isn’t in the protective covering afforded by a car and is much more vulnerable to the effects of any accident that might be just around the next corner, cause I’d rather get back from my ride with a miserable puss than to die with a big smile on my face that won’t necessarily be a sure ticket at the pearly gates.