09:20 MST and
IT IS SUNNY! There are birds singing in the trees at the edge of the parking lot which means, without a doubt (or a glance at weather.com), that the rain is gone. Birds know these things.
I'll be out of Texas in a few miles, then on to Las Cruces, NM and Tucson where I need to stop for a new speedometer cable. Then on through Phoenix and, if all goes well, Palm Springs for the night. I feel like a kid on the first day of summer vacation! Or the way I felt on my first long ride.
I started riding when I was 13, got my first BMW when I was twenty (lied to the bank to get the loan). First thing I did was head across the Rockies to the coast with just a sleeping bag, some extra clothes in my tank bag and very little money.
I was gone 3 weeks, sleeping where I could - a couple of nights with family, a few nights on the beach, always just my ground sheet and sleeping bag. Made it to San Francisco, then Denver where I stayed with a girl I'd met a few years earlier and worked painting houses to make enough to get home. Got home broke but with a rider's high that has never left me in the 34 years since.
I have a picture I took of myself on that trip somewhere in Wyoming, an arm's length portrait of a grubby, unshaven rider in a sweat-stained plaid shirt, my R75/6 a few yards behind me on a gravel road that runs arrow straight to nowhere and everywhere. My grin is electric.
I still grin like that whenever I ride, still sing in my helmet, still feel like I'm 20 whenever I get on a bike. That's why I ride, that's why I'll ride as long as my body lets me.
It shocks me every time I see a picture of myself these days, helmet off, thinning grey hair, more chins than toes, beginning of a Santa belly. Lots has changed in the way I look, probably not for the better. But every one of those irritating pictures is just another portrait of a grubby, unshaven rider with the electric grin of a 20 year old on his first long ride.
Maybe I'll have a chance to take one of those irritating pictures today so you can see what I mean about the grin.