Sunday, July 10, 2011

It's All About the Ride

Well, not quite. Unless you ride solo (which may be easier in some respects but usually less meaningful), the person you ride with counts for a great deal.
A great motorcycle ride requires fellow riders with some, and preferably all, of certain traits; shared values, common desires/expectations, the ability to lead and follow, the humility to admit error yet the confidence to chart a course and stick with it. I have ridden with some great men, guys who have displayed grace and generosity beyond recounting. These men have made journeying a treasure of shared experiences and sights. But, more importantly, we have shared our hopes and dreams, fears and frustrations, as well as laughter and even tears. In summary, these men shared their hearts with me, and I am enriched as a result. It is indeed a rare gift that I will cherish.
The first part of my recent adventure was shared by some great friends, two of whom, Ben and Steve, are veterans of prior trips and one, Ralph, did remarkably well on this his first real long ride. All were amazingly compatible and enjoyable. But over the last week only two riders remained. I had the privilege of sharing the road, different hotel rooms and every meal with a friend who made those final days of this trip indescribably memorable and enjoyable.
Jim is an unusual man. I mean that in a positive sense. Let me try and describe him. He is completely committed to his faith. Not a single meal goes by without expressing his thankfulness for the food we will share and the many ways we have been blessed. The love of his life, and his best friend, has remained married to him for more than 30 years. He never speaks of her in anything but glowing terms, even when just with the guys. He earnestly seeks to be the best father and grandfather that he can be, recognizing that the role is not always a popularity contest you can win. He is a successful businessman with impeccable integrity. He will not sacrifice his principles for profit, nor will he sacrifice profit for personal ease. He is humbled by his success, and maintains a modest lifestyle, preferring extraordinary generosity.
But what makes Jim unique is his love of "just riding". Every morning he would say, “Isn’t it a great day? And we get to ride again!” Whether the day’s ride is 100 miles or 1000 miles, Jim is overjoyed by the pleasure of it. Smiling, both hands in the air in exaltation, his enthusiasm and exuberance are infectious. It is impossible to ride near Jim without absolutely knowing that this is an opportunity to celebrate living.
We all need a Jim or two in our lives. We all need those who travel with us, companions who share the adventure, come what may. One’s world can easily shrink when adversity strikes. Sometimes those who enjoy the spectacular heights and the sunny days, do not necessarily join in for a friend's slide to the darkened depths. Jim would. And he would still be there when the ride is a harrowing, relentless nightmare of ever deepening shadows shouting, “Let’s ride”.


  1. Great ending to a great ride!!

  2. You are indeed fortunate and blessed to have a friend like Jim. We should all be more like appreciate of what we have and celebrate each day we are blessed with. My dad, who passed away recently, was my "Jim."