Sunday, November 7, 2010

Cork to Malin Head (1)

The Prelude

We’re in little boxes. Boxes of time and often of space. We have cubicles in our offices where we carry out various tasks to ensure that we can put food on the table and fuel in our bikes. We sit at desks, we operate machinery, we dig holes, we study. All of this is fairly obvious but what lies beyond the obvious is the fact that we are simply cogs in a much greater machine. In our boxes we have to produce something or justify our existence in some other way in order to survive unto the next day. Like cogs in a machine we are used to routines because this is how we know the world to operate. We work within our boxes according to our routines in order to survive but also to produce wealth, much of which doesn’t ever end up being our own but rather someone else’s. This is the enigma about adventure, perhaps it is even the enigma of motorbiking itself, that adventure (and perhaps motorbiking) is something without routine. It is out of character, it is something we are not used to because the box has been shed, present time and mindsets are all shed and we must live in the moment and adapt as we go. It is living in real time and something most of us crave but often don’t let ourselves do. The important thing about living in real time on a motorbike is that real time is going at 60mph while leaning through a bend and this is also what many crave.

One of the main reasons for my buying my Suzuki Bandit 600 was to engage in some long distance riding. Ever since I had began riding I had been taking my little Honda Innova 125 well outside of its comfort zone in and around the city, going out to the edges of the county where its little engine would huff and puff but always, and I mean always, bring me home. Often it did so on fumes, for it really did seem to have a distaste for petrol, bringing me home from Waterford city one late summer afternoon on just about 3 litres of petrol. Being a Honda it could probably do this forever but really I needed something bigger if I was going to carry on doing this sort of mileage. The plan for the Bandit then was to pack it up for a few days in the summer and to head away through the country for a few days to escape my thesis. Never one to blame myself, I’ll push it instead to my thesis and the concept of time itself to shoulder the blame for me not having the opportunity during our glorious summer to take to the roads in that much of a fashion. Still I did clock up about 4000 miles since June and that’s not half bad. With my thesis completed however I had no reason to not begin planning to take the bike on a bit of a tour and planning began. I mean planning in the sense that something was going on in my head and so did not necessarily involve me taking out a pen and paper although I do recall checking some distances on Google Maps before quickly forgetting them. I had always wanted to go and see the Burren though and then continue on through Galway and into Connemara strapping a tent to the back of the bike and doing the tour as a single overnighter. Logging on to Facebook one night and mentioning it to Gary changed all of that; he said he’d like to join me and I decided that company would be nice so it was now that real planning was going to begin for this was definitely going ahead.

Having completed my thesis I did feel I needed time to relax and take a break from reading and writing and to be honest even writing this is taking a little bit more of an effort than I thought as I read over things, adjust things, and generally give in to a seemingly never ending style twitch that forces me to go back over my last sentence. Oh, wait I must change that last bit. From the day we enter school life changes to become goal orientated - we need to finish that days homework, we need to do well in the Leaving Cert and then I needed to go on and complete my degree before finishing my MA thesis. No I didn’t have an office cubicle but I always had something to aim for, a new goal to achieve and with the ending of the thesis there was now no goal to aim for. This should be relaxing but ultimately you only end up searching for something else to occupy your mind for in my case I felt hamstrung, I felt lazy almost. Now that the bike tour was becoming a reality I had a new goal to aim for, something completely unrelated to what had gone before for this would take me out of my comfort zone, out of my box and into life in real time. This would be an adventure and one that had been some time coming.

Realising that Facebook was surely not the most effective way to plan a motorbike tour, Gary and I met up in the somewhat less than luxurious surroundings of the Main in UCC. Hayfield Manor it may not be but it did have free wifi which was essential for Gary’s meanderings through Google Maps. Initially my own mental plan had just been to travel to Connemara and then come home by, and I quote here, “go out and then come back East and then travel South”. The word vague does spring to mind doesn’t it? I had a desire to travel to one of Cork City’s away games on the bike and due to me mixing up some dates I was convinced that City were playing Finn Harps in Donegal on the weekend that we were thinking of using for this trip. Gary did seem enthusiastic about the roads in Donegal and that enthusiasm was convincing enough to make me want to travel that far which was great considering that I then found out that we (as in City) were playing Finn Harps here at home in Cork. Still, riding up to Donegal was still very much on and with a long weekend coming up a plan was gradually coming to fruition.