Speed, Terror, Calm

June 28, 2010

Leaving Santa Fe.

I had one of the very best night of sleep at the Motel 6 in Santa Fe, woke up fresh, no aches, this is good.

I zoomed up to Las Vega NM to see… Got caught by thundershowers but this time I am prepared, rain coat, booties so I don’t really care.

Nothing to see, most of the town is closed on Sundays… Not good tourism policies if you ask me. I turned around.

Run back down full tilt. More rain.

… On the approach to Santa Fe : huge urge to stop…. I change lanes, then, I grind my teeth and continue… I think that if I stop again, I might not leave.

I blast down I 25, the wind picks up and the heat.

This wind is like nothing I’ve known before. I swear the bike is pushed sideways at angles approaching 50 degrees. Gusts and wind blasts grow stronger and stronger. I pray for traction. Rubber on the road please.

The wind now is so strong it pushes us completely to the other side of the lane. I feel I am leaning into a mountain side but I am on flat ground. The wind toys with me. It would push and push sideways then drop us so the lack of resistance would make me fall rapidly in the direction I was holding against.

They don’t teach you that at motorcycle school. I get tired just hanging on. As we got closer to Albuquerque it got more outrageous… The wind there is brutal and comes from all directions. It is vengeful and unpredictable. Like someone grappling your lapel and shaking you like a rag.

I started to feel a bit of panic. How am I supposed to ride this? Then I thought of martial arts : do not resist the force go with it and then the most important part came to me : Stand to the wind, do not fight, and know that you will prevail. A fierce sort of calm filled me. It was amazing. OK, we are going to stay upright, calm, forward and focused and somehow the wind did not seem so dangerous.

One thing I have noticed since I live alone is how when you are on your own you figure shit out. When someone is there you depend, you ask, you question, you wait. You lose the sense of responsibility and the necessity of handling things now. On your own no one else will do it for you. You cry, you kick and scream, you laugh and you learn you smile and it’s never anyone’s fault anymore. It’s all yours. You made the decisions, took the steps and handled it with poise or like a twerp.

Next turn the 60 East

I did not know anything about the 60. I just saw it on the map and it went in the general direction I was aiming for : Austin via Roswell.

The 60 started promisingly, just gorgeous, void of cars and humans, with good pavement. Storms were gathering West, North and South. My path seemed to ply right in the middle. Lucky me. If you look on the map this road looks straight : It is. At first I was enjoying the scenery, the colors, a rainbow above a mesa in the South, cows, trains, I love to see the trains here. Then the straightaways started to beguile… well there is nothing in sight…


Something happens when you go really fast. There is a point where it does not seem fast anymore.  this bike seems to like it fast, maybe they all do?  I could not tell how fast I was going because my speedo broke in Flagstaff, at one point I glanced and the tach was a little above 9000 RPMs I don’t think I’ve ever been so close to redlining in 5th gear.  I don’t know what that is in terms of speed but in operation it felt like a magic carpet ride, really smooth.  I lay completely down on the tank, tuck my knees and elbows in and zoomed through the décor.

What made me physically aware of the amount of speed I was travelling at was when I had to decelerate for a speed zone , I had to literally push back on the handlebars to keep myself upright.  Like G-forces and the sound of the motor… It swirls back out of the hyper speed as if coming from unfathomable distance, as if the motor was in an interstellar black hole of endless power and it takes a while for the sound and noises and motions to get back in synch and into the focus and position required by reality gradually coming back from a really really deep dream in the motor realm.

Gas. Again

Need to stop again, in a small town… I go through these places and there isn’t even a grocery store. How do they live? What do they do? Who are they? I continue.

More of the same.

I thought the land was like a giant fabric laid on flat with folds here and there that some artist will try in vain to duplicate with coal on paper. The road is a seam, like on the endless leg of a pair of jeans, the yellow lines like the stitches, going on forever up in the horizon. I am an ant, a minuscule speck of life, covering the distance on the unfolding fabric following the two lane ribbon of the road up and up and up.

BNSF train, I love them orange trains

More gas

I fill up as often as I can as there are places where everything closes at 6 PM and it’s just too bad if you miss. I feel we are going down in altitude. The bike runs better and better. It purrs.

At this point the sun is coming down, it’s getting cold. Got to stop to put back on the layers, the raincoat to cut the wind and even the balaclava ( the bandit looking thing I put over my head and it covers my neck) Amazing how the right gear will keep you comfortable and able. Lose one piece of it and you are in hell.

The storm cloud

Right then, the colors around me were incredible, the skies are otherworldly, an IMAX theatre for giants. Everything is larger than life, the sky, the clouds, the land. I stop to take some photos, they don’t really turn out that well. They don’t tell the story. I get back on.

That is when things got terrorizing.

Blame it on a long day in the saddle, my over active imagination, or simply that there are some Gods and spirits living on this land.

The storm cloud you saw in the last photo turned into a monster’s face. The background is an ominous black to very dark grays clouds. Enmeshed on that is this humongous storm cloud with white, orange, purples, pinks, dark blues…

morphing skies

The storm cloud morphed in front of my eyes, the closest I can think of is one of those Chinese mean looking creature with the large nose the angry mouth and eyes. Each feature is alive, it moves, the white clouds make each expression pop out of the back ground, the eyes, the brows, the mouth opens and screams at me a silent deafening thunderous scream. It is looking at me. It is scowling at me, I feel an anger, a power, I am just too small for this.

The last rays of the sun light the whole show up. As I climb up this overpass, thence getting closer to the face, it gets bigger, the winds blow. I started to whimper.

All around the scenery is this INCREDIBLY beautiful vista : , the fields, endless, wild, the colors moved my soul… North, West, South, East… The beauty took my breath away in wonder. So I look at the vista, look at the face, I go back and forth between pure terror and pure wonder, I don’t know anything anymore.

That face… it morphs, it seems it is going to swallow me, burn me, punish me, the eyes… I am crying. It’s irrational and so real.

I start to scream out loud, but no one hears, the tears are streaming down my face and landing in the balaclava, the motor roars, the wind whistles angrily… And the face… it gets, distorted, howling its rage, it’s on fire. I am just crying like a helpless fool. My heart is pounding. I am F@#$ scared of a cloud! But it’s so real. It’s right there.

The skies are so ominous. I expect rain to fall to burst from those black clouds and drown me right there and swallow me. No one would ever know what happened to me… then I look around and it’s so gorgeous. Oh my God….

Gradually the face starts to melt, now to my left another cloud looks like an arm waving me this way, this way… and the road angles that way. I am so grateful for the bike running, for my body alive, my heart calms down.

I am a minuscule speck of a being in this gigantic universe. I am alone here in this moment in time and space, I am so… I am so…

What to say, what word would express…. I just am. My face wet with tears, my mind shaken, My heart brimming with a kind of pride and gratefulness towards my machine. My clothes are doing the work of keeping me able to ride, my hands hold the bars lightly. In this craziness all is well somehow.

How do you explain all this.

Night fell. The motor runs. The road is this perfect, brand new thread of asphalt. Blacker than the skies. In the rearview mirror the sun has gone, only remnants of light gradually disappear to full blackness.

I don’t go fast anymore. It’s calm. I am comfortable. there is no one around. Roswell 58 miles. Should be there in about an hour.


One Response to “Speed, Terror, Calm”

  1. Erika Says:

    What do you think Mother nature was saying to you Danielle? What a powerful experience full of fear and wonder.

    We are so not in control, we think we have some, but around us is nature, creation; which speaks of a holy, mighty sacred force that is something other that we have ever known….those of us who are searching want to live a full whole life, all our passion….

    In you, l see and know a longing to live out who you have been created as, and that in and of itself is holy and sacred

    I believe in return you will be granted what you are searching for….

    We all who are serious put our nose to the grindstone and suffer the pain turned joy until we see and know what we are made for….

    ~Rhea Phoenix

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