The city is just coming alive. Golden sun rays peek through the skyscrapers. A sparse number of taxi cabs shepherd hungover partygoers, and through my helmet I can smell the air thick with cigarette smoke and the smell of fresh bagels. Tourists point and wave in my direction.
On the highway now. My motorcycle contorts my body. My knees cling tight against the tank. I’m hunched over like an oversized housecat ready to pounce. I’m an off-brand superhero. The fear subsides. I know that this demented chainsaw underneath me is stable at speed and my hands try their best not to fumble at the controls.
I pass a father with his child who gives me a thumbs up and yells at me to “rev it!” This is a machine designed to hurl your body across space and time. It’s also a very expensive noisemaker. I oblige, flash a thumbs up, and set off with no destination in mind.
I find myself on Storm King Highway, a marvel of civil engineering that cuts across the scenic mountains and forests of New York’s Hudson Valley. Petrichor wafts through the air. The exhaust note barely masks the excited bird calls of this spring morning. My horizon is filled with the most beautiful verdant leaves. In the distance of a steep drop-off, the splendor of the Hudson River itself comes into view, snaking across the land like a battle scar. There’s a bouquet next to a cross embedded on the side of the road.
I stop for a moment and imagine myself as the Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, albeit dressed like a Power Ranger. I imagine the thousands of other motorcyclists making the same risk/reward analysis that I did and choosing, death be damned, to drive alongside two-ton vehicles and share in this same view. I’m still here. I hope they are too.
I decide to take the long way home.
Kevin Xu is Senior Strategist at Beck & Stone. He lives in Queens.