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Monday, January 16, 2017

Riding the sunburnt country: Day 1 . . .

Ready to ride?
While an ocean sailor, l quickly learned there are few agnostics at sea. When your life is at the whims of the sea and the weather, you tend to pray, whether it be to God, Buddha, Allah, Gaia, the universe or your own personal combination. I tended to throw Tangaroa and Tawhirimatea into the mix.

I was reminded yesterday that long-distance motorcycling is similar.

I left Brisbane mid-morning en route to Roma, Queensland, sometimes referred to as "the gateway to the outback."  I'd just spent three wonderful days catching up with family, friends and friends who have become family, and was planning a 490km shakedown ride to see a loved cousin I hadn't seen in too long.

Another treasured friend rode with me out of the city and some of the way, by which time I'd gained confidence with the overly large and heavy bike I'd rented, then he left me to make my way alone.

The open road astride a powerful bike is a vastly different experience than traveling by car or other four-wheeled vehicle, where the goal seems to be to distract oneself as much as possible from the trip. On a bike, distraction is deadly, and one is constantly scanning the road, the other traffic, what lies ahead, on both sides and is approaching from behind.
the big, beautiful beast (and friend) 

This trip being in Australia, I had to add killeroos and slowly jaywalking koalas into the usual dangers of being on the road without a hard shell covering.

That heightened sense of awareness also makes one highly aware of the beauty of the world you're in and the preciousness of life and I find myself prayerful when I ride long distances alone.

I'm constantly giving thanks - for friends and whanau and freedom, and helpful strangers who often become friends. I'm thankful for good weather, well-maintained roads, the beauty of the huge open sky and the sunburnt fields of scribbly gum trees and corn and red sorghum and the long low Queenslander farmhouses, with their wide shaded verandas that insulate the interiors from the incredible heat.

I'm even thankful for my fellow road users - the drivers of the massive road trains I'm following who indicate when it's clear ahead and safe for me to pass; the drivers coming towards me who flash their lights to warn of speed traps. There's a sense of camaraderie just by sharing the same road.

I'm thankful for the hospitality offered to a traveler, at road houses, gas stations and truck stops. Where strangers ask where you're going, where you're from and what brings you this way, then give advice and good wishes for the roads ahead.
Heading out . . . 

I ask my god/s for gifts also - mostly for a continuation of those gifts I'm already thankful for.

Please watch over my friends and family, continue to bless me with health and good fortune, please protect me from rain while on the road, distracted drivers, and those damned killeroos.

Then it's back to giving thanks ...

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