By Merisa Sherman
I could feel my braid begin to whip around in all directions behind me as we took off from the stop, leaving the dirt drive and heading out onto the pavement. My right hip dropped toward the road as my left side body squinched in an effort to stay upright. Slowly, the power behind the throttle began its roar as I fought with gravity, wrapping my arms tighter around the rider in front of me. My core muscles instinctively engaged and my braid began to beat faster, caught up in the wind of the open road. As we come out of the first turn, my body began to settle in and I rolled back into my little seat on the rear of the motorcycle.
We were off. And rolling.
From one bead of the tire to the other, the great iron horse swayed along the windy turns of yet another Vermont road. You could almost imagine the wheelbase extending as you sink in the deepest part of the turn and then popping you out at the end, so similar to the feel of a deep slalom turn on skis. As you finish one turn, the gravitational forces release and let you roll the bike over to the next. It’s so beautiful and calming, although I’m still not sure how something can feel so like being in a slalom race while simultaneously being like a newborn babe being lulled to sleep in one of those side to side rockers.
Just like in skiing, your body rotates to work with the forces of nature, rather than against them. From the top of your helmet through your spine and down into your toes, everything is working in perfect harmony as the bike become just an extension of your body. My feet are tucked underneath me, on the tiniest little pegs, but I can feel every little pebble in the pavement. The bike is my legs and the tires my skis as we float along the pavement through the green mountains.
What an absolutely wonderful place to ride! The sweeping turns and rolling hills keep the bike moving beneath us as we peacefully meander through the mountains. Each turn is different and exciting — and never simple. It’s almost impossible to be a passive, uneducated rider on our roads; the Vermont rider must be active and attentive at all times. Unless you’re on I-89 or Route 7, there are no long, boring straightaways to just blast along on like in the movies. The geometry of each turn must be calculated before even thinking about engaging the lean on the bike, never mind the science behind the most efficient and safe lane of travel to be taken. It’s all consuming.
As your eyes constantly scan the road, they leave the pavement and are blessed to be surrounded by the most beautiful land in the world. Glowing green mountains rise up on either side, each one so unique but still all connected. Sometimes the pavement seems to mirror the ridge lines above, weaving in and out of mountain ranges, stunning state forests, rustic little towns and gorgeous farmland. The bike dips for a 90 degree turn around a cow pasture or a CBD farm after a few seconds of straightaway before climbing the windy mountain path of a rugged notch road. At the summit, the trees open up and all you see below is the great state of Vermont herself, her green mountains rolling for miles. A beautiful playground in all directions.
Even 20 minutes after a full rainstorm, the exposed roads are dry as a bone while life under the canopy feels like a forgotten rainforest. As the passenger, I can feel the constant pricks of mud, being lifted by the tires from the wet road and splattering a brown stripe all down my back and, sometimes, down the back of my pants. I’m the first one to don rain pants on a wet ride, but I’m not the one being pelted by the wind when we actually do ride in the rain, which this past week, happened quite a few times. The smart Vermont rider keeps their rain gear tucked away in their jacket or saddlebags.
We stop for lunch in a quaint little town and savor the vibrant flavors of homemade ramen tossed with fresh local produce and a tamari egg while sitting on the curb next to our bikes. Curbside pickup definitely has its advantages and we laugh with our friends as we reminisce about rides gone by, plot the journey home and schedule our next ride — and its food destination! There’s a favorite five-turn sequence on this road, but this other one is freshly paved and would feel so smooth under the tires… oh, the choices!
We triple check the bikes to make sure everything is perfect and I tighten the hair tie at the bottom of my braid. As usual, we’ve chosen the longest way home, with the most amount of turns and hills, reluctant to bring about the end to another motorcycle adventure through the countryside.