I am a poet and a walker. Motorbikes look to me the most pointless creation of mechanic, so far from the slow noiseless beauty of a bicycle or the enchanted stepping of my feet on a mountain ridge. I cannot find good reasons for their existence. I look at motor bikers with the same attitude of a lord looking at a farmer on a donkey: a sort of magnanimous pity due to a superior indisputable inner nature. I am sure, I will never ride a motorbike. I underestimate the strength of friendship.
Regardless the abyss between our lives and thoughts Romano is a friend, one of those as the family or the home town, things that we don’t chose, that happen to us and belong to us, whatever we do. Unfortunately he considers motorbikes as alive creatures and riding them a form of art and a way to evolve a human being till the perfection. I smartly escaped all his attempt to make me ride, but this time I could not. Few days ago I booked a flight to Berlin to visit him. It occurs the day before he had planned a ride from Berlin to Hamburg. Maybe I was absent or he was particularly persuasive, I do not know, but I could not say that short-easy-and-powerful-enough-to-save-the-life-of-a-man word: “no”. I hated him for a long minute. 600 km in two days on a BMW 1100 GS are about to be my first time riding.
The day after I wear an uncomfortable leather jacket and a strange helmet. I feel me ridiculous. I stare at that big motionless thing, waiting. Romano jumps on. “Come on” he says. I sit on the bike convinced to confirm my opinion about the silliness of riding. As a walker I thought speed is the enemy of moving, noise a way to forbid an absolute concentration, the use of a vehicle an obstacle between me and the landscape and, most of all, a way to make everything easier. I am sure to be on the edge of extremely uncomfortable hours.
Romano turns the bike on. The noise is a kick. The vibration goes in my body as a sweet poison, it softly licks the skin and awakes shivers. My soul, regardless the opinion of the head, changed attitude: not curiosity but indecision killed the cat. We slowly join the traffic stream. It reminds me of the first time I ride a horse, years ago, when I was ninth, on the mountain of my homeland, the strength did not scare but seduce me. I release the body, I was clasping the handrails and legs were tense. Maybe it will be almost interesting. The road is clear now. Romano waves to ask me if everything is fine. Yes. He speeds up. The quick acceleration is like an ocean wave, the pressure of the speed catches and throws me into the distance. Opened arms I shout: my skin is a veil.
The city is far, far behind. The highway is immense, it pierces the world and get lost over the edge. Everything is bigger because there are no boundaries, I am outside, exposed, the world rains freely on me, the only defence is my self, balance skill will. It is a challenge. Like walking.
There is only a sound, the roaring of the bike and the air, which is the voice of the speed. It rules on all as the silent does on the peaks. It blows and blows, overflowing my mind, pushing away memories and thoughts, getting me to a deeper concentration, to an absolute present, a moment of perfection, this sound, my self, as one voice, the circling sound of a bike.
Eyes closed I see noting but flashes of shadows and lights. I have no references, I can’t determine direction: this movement is pure, I am a point, a piece of mass moving, a geometric being endlessly speeding. And we play, we play with the gravity, we bent as a sweet fall into the void, like swimming into the abyss, like dancing with the speed, like flying into the distance, restless effortless. The ground does not exist, we run on an endless rounded surface. Is it that what a drop of rain falling feels? Is that what a wave a bird an arrow piercing the air feels?
Now I keep the eyes open. My mind goes curiously towards other elements of the ride. The body is tired, it is not easy, the temperature low down and it is not like trek, when you can increase the body’s work to get temperature. I can only stand, feeling the cold coming, slowly, and I can’t do much but keep.
The landscape runs around. Woods, fields, birds slower than as, reeds running far away, a guy crossing a farm, big clouds floating, the sun the blue villages and roads. Details get lost: Speed paints a big portrait, it is a hug to the horizon, a bigger perspective closer to when we see the world from 4000 meters, the void of the altitude as the void of the speed.
We get Hamburg. Romano goes for food. I need to stay alone and I go for a short stroll. Something changed, a different perception of reality made bigger my view and my thoughts. I sit on a stair in front of a house. I light on a cigarette. The helmet lies on my legs. I pick it up and I look at it as a key opening a different world. Beg your pardon motor bikers. I will never be one of you, but now I understand. The deepest respect from a walker and the wish that nobody of you will never stop riding as I will never stop walking.