Everyone that rides dreams of those times on the open road. We want to experience looking out and seeing nothing in front of us except the beautiful landscape that God has given us. Always searching around the next turn for exhilaration as we ride into some new road and scenery. We crave endless roads that are free of cars, trucks, buses, construction vehicles, and gravel haulers. The riding experience can be difficult to get across to non-riders. Try as you may, they simply don’t “get it”. Hence the biker patch that reads, “If I have to explain you wont understand“. Riding is addictive and every time we embark on our next journey we chase after that perfect ride.
However, there is another side of riding that does not satisfy our craving. Many of us use our bikes for more than just weekend or vacation pleasure trips. I am one of those riders. Nearly every day through the year my bike is transport to and from work. Unless its below 42 degrees or raining. Those are the decisive factors to whether I am driving or riding to work. My commute is 57 miles each way, 114 miles daily, from South Fort Worth to North Plano. One hour to get to work, 1.5 hours to get home. There is not much pleasure riding taking place on this commute.
The morning commute starts before the sun comes up year round. The ride going to work is not too bad. At 5:30am there isn’t much rush hour traffic. There are more big rigs in the morning since those guys tend to drive through the night. I see a lot of construction vehicles because most construction trades start work very early so as to close out their day at 2 or 3pm. In Texas they do this to avoid the hottest part of the afternoon, performing the bulk of their workday in the cooler hours of the morning. Freeway construction is at an all time high in DFW right now and most of that takes place during the night so gravel haulers, construction trucks, and cement trucks are often present. Fortunately I have had very few close calls or near incidents during the morning commute. Most of the ride is freeway and tollway. I choose the tollway because its less congested due to having to pay a toll but it’s also safer. There are some areas where traffic can be heavy and it causes a bit of that horrible stop and go action. My bike can travel 250 miles on a tank of fuel so even though I could go 2 days before filling up, I just stop every morning and keep it topped off. My afternoon commute is so horrible its nice to know the tank is full when traffic gets bad and I’m sitting there wondering how long its going to take before we start moving again.
After a long day at work I have to face the afternoon rush hour traffic. Unfortunately there is no getting around this. I have a section of the tollway that takes me about a third of the way home without issue. Then it hits. Constant braking, stop and go, flared tempers, speed monkey’s that think jumping in one car ahead will get them home quicker, wrecks, breakdowns, tailgaters and gator tails, other debris that has fallen off or spilled from vehicles through the day, and closed lanes for various reasons. It’s a freaking nightmare, and I am tired from being up since 5am and working all day and now have to deal with……this. The local radio traffic report becomes your best friend so you can deviate from the usual route due to excessive congestion if necessary. There is no pleasure riding through this. It’s just not possible. My alertness and awareness level of possible threats is at its peak. You cannot relax your attention for even an instant because that’s when some idiot in a cage will be texting god only knows who, and why, and will swerve into you to get one more car length ahead. On a side note, the entire world survived just fine throughout history without cell phones. As a worldwide entity, humanity made it, without cell phones! So why in freaking hell do two thirds of drivers on the road assume every minute of their time is an emergency that justifies talking or texting while driving, ALL the way home!? I’ve always wanted to develop a hand held EMP device that I could point at a car and fry all of its electronics. That would shut them down! Imagine zapped cars littering the roadway with dumbfounded drivers standing around unable to make phone calls for assistance. Haha! Anyways, it takes about 1.5 hours of this crap if not longer to get home and by the time I survive the onslaught of cager stupidity and pull into the garage, I am exhausted.
A minimum of 12 hours has passed since I rolled out of the garage in the dark of the early morning. There is not much left of me now. My energy is drained, I’m basically just a lifeless lump of flesh. I have no motivation or ambition to do much of anything. It can take an hour or more to come down from the stress and adrenaline of work and the ride to even enjoy relaxing.
Not all riding is sunny, happy faced, smelling the flowers, whistling with the birds, waving and smiling at other drivers with a plastic formed toothy grin on your face. Though riding can be a great experience, in my case for 5 days of week its a grind. This is reality for many bikers that utilize their machine for more than just weekend pleasure. This is the Other Side of the Ride.