Good riding is like dancing — to get to that magic place one needs to relax and sense and surf the flow of the road beneath you — not forcing things but becoming one with it. It can be hard to achieve the utter concentration of focus and selflessness — it sounds almost Buddhist — where as a rider you are both there and not there concurrently.
Some people can close their eyes, inhale deeply and just get there every day.
For others that place might be as remote as the surface of the moon.
In the middle of a stranglingly soul crushing work day, the internet bought me this.
Australian World Superbike Champion and all-round charming guy Troy Corser was racing at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed — piloting a 1935 BMW RSS works racer. The RSS was equipped with a rigid rear suspension and tires that were of comparable width to those on my mountain bicycle.
Yet there was Troy, piloting a more than 80 year old motorcycle, and instead of being mindful of conserving his priceless museum piece, was absolutely wringing its neck — riding it like he stole it — and keeping up a pace that appeared to be in the same zip code as a current superbike racer.
Troy was absolutely in the zone — limbs loose and graceful, body position low on the motorcycle, with the throttle mostly wide open and the bike moving around — demonstrating the unmistakable bucking movement under power of a rigid rear roadracer. If the bike had brakes Troy made absolutely no use of them. At points, both ends of the bike would completely break loose — something that seemed to faze Troy not a whit — he’d just gather up the bike with gentle inputs on the bars and go back to shepherding the RSS back in the direction of another Pole Position pace lap.
His riding was nothing less than a thing of beauty to behold.
The sound of that RSS motor spinning hard way up the rev band — that boxer aeromotor drone — was both familiar and evocative — a clear invitation.
I headed for the garage at my first opportunity.
Don’t get me wrong.
Troy Corser’s entire self is likely less than the width of one of my chubby legs. His worst day in the saddle no doubt eclipses my best.
But watching the old boxer moving around underneath him had me ghosting the sensations in my hands and feet and thighs, and I knew I could play back that magic I’d seen.
I knew just the place to do it, too.
I headed over the ridge from Jefferson — headed down to the Potomac and Point of Rocks. From there I rode Ballenger Creek Pike through the southern farms of Frederick County — tight technical stuff through the woods then opening up to run through pastureland.
I was headed for Cap Stein Road — a hedgerow-lined Colonial Era road that followed the property lines of those earliest Maryland estates.
Like many of these old roads, it gets right down to business, with a tight decreasing radius right hander less than 50 yards in. It’s like starting a fist fight with your best right cross straight to the face — there’s no mystery about one’s intentions after that.
Cap Stein is lovely because the next several corners combine grades and apexes — from the tops of some hills and the bottoms of others. The topography hides the corner exits, but this is by no means my first run down this road. I keep the R90’s motor spun up and on the boil — it is only for a set of bang-bang 90s that I’m forced to drop a gear to third for my entries.
The S moves around on its suspension as tires scrub and slide — I stay loose and let the wheels do what they do.
My old motorcycle and I are truly alive — straightening out a twisty roadway and making a wonderful noise.
After dropping back into the Middletown Valley, I rode Gapland and Broad Run at full chat back to the house.
As I stood beside the bike after shut down, I let the sound die down in my head.
Letting the bike move its way, while I moved mine — letting the road come to me instead of forcing the machine to it.
Never had 30 minutes been so restorative.
All of the cerebral noise of the day had been banished by the purity of movement.