Saturday, October 15, 2011

I Know I'll Get There Somehow

I am looking forward to the road in the way that one looks forward to standing under a long, hot shower after a chilly fall day stacking wood. Soothing, sensual, and--of pertinent interest to me right now--alone.

I haven't been riding much lately; this must be what happens when you publish a book about motorcycling. You have no time to motorcycle. The interims between readings and promotional trips are devoted to the kid, his haircuts and bus schedule and school meetings, as well as the forgotten assignment (whoops!) and the filth that builds up in the house while you aren't looking. Then there's the dwindling supply of clean underwear. But for once, in this long month of rehashing what is already finished to me, and meeting scores of fascinating people and talking with all of them, I will get to be alone on a motorcycle on a long road. I expect it to provide its certain sustenance intravenously, going straight to the bloodstream without intermediary actions. It's just there, feeding you.

After the first leg of this ride, I will again feel restored and happy to shake hands and hear others' stories of their rides, and how they found motorcycles, and how motorcycles keep them anchored to life. When that is over, the meeting of friends and the dinners and the socializing, I will once again put my leg over the Rockster and wave goodbye to where I've been. I will face the calm aloneness of hours on the highway, and the possibility of figuring some new things out. (It appears that I am never to be without something I badly need the road's help in decoding.)

I am a little bit tired and a little bit discouraged and a lot confused. I may think that this is new, but I have to remember that it is not. I will always need the road again and again and again, for different reasons and the same reasons. Ride, rinse, repeat. That is life's image, the revolution of the wheel. Need, and relief. Need, and relief. I map my destination with a combination of care and faith.


I would like to reiterate my apology to a group of people who command my highest respect. Through
unconsidered misspeaking, I have harmed and angered them. I am deeply sorry for what I did. Since I cannot unspeak
it, I can only regret it, learn from it, and ask for forgiveness. The intention to honor their pursuits remains, as it was in the
beginning, the only thing in my mind.


Phil Tarman said...


I listened to your NPR interview, and appreciated what you said. I'll be surprised if you have harmed the LD-riding community.

I enjoyed your new book and am reading "Home" now. The Perfect Vehicle has gotten several re-readings.

As a person who makes his living using words (I'm a United Methodist Minister) I know how easy it is to say something which someone else can get upset about. I've done it severaal times lately even after 41 years in the business.

Hold your head up! Keep writing about our shared passion.

Shybiker said...

I'm glad you're going to get some time in the saddle. It always helps me sort things out, without even trying. Our minds just loosen up in the course of riding.

Shybiker said...

Oh my gosh! I was searching the 'net and just stumbled upon the recent article in "Rider" (one of my favorite magazines) by Greg Drevenstedt about his visit with you. Nice profile. Plus, the photo of you and John is the very first time I've ever seen what you look like!

Sadlsor said... would appear that Birmingham (Southern variant) does not often make the Top 10 of book-promo tours. Too bad; life doesn't lend much flexibility for me these days, sadly. Nonetheless, "if you're ever down our way, won't you please stop by."

KTsRidin said...


I've never written to you before (I don't believe), but after seeing the pain in your eyes last night over dinner, I feel compelled to write.

Please do not spend another millisecond with your head lowered. Some things are small cuts, barely noticed at first then, ignored, end up going septic. What I think you've got is one of the other types of wounds, a nasty looking rug burns caused by someone getting rubbed the wrong way. They hurt like the dickens right away, but ultimately are forgotten with no lasting injury.

Enjoy your long ride, solve the world's ills while rolling down the tarmac, and please, keep writing!

Kirsten (the girl who wouldn't take off her hat at dinner despite my mother teaching me better... trust me, it was the better choice).

Melissa Holbrook Pierson said...

Phil, thank you. I appreciate your perspective. I am fond of telling my son that it is only when he makes a mistake that he can know he is going forward; I got to relearn that again myself, and I'm grateful. I plan on continuing to go forward.

Melissa Holbrook Pierson said...

Sadlsor (and I'm of the tribe, at this very moment, ready for the post-ride hot bath): I would love to go to Birmingham, and a hundred other spots in the amazing South. Never say die! Might make it there yet. Or we meet on the road somewhere . . . it's always home to me.

Melissa Holbrook Pierson said...

Kirsten, I hear you. And I follow your lead (though way in the distance). You have my gratitude, for your kindness.

And anytime you care to give another dessert recommendation, I'm there. Whoa!

Anonymous said...

I have searched NPR for your interview that Phil Tarman wrote about, and I can't find it. Could you post a link to the interview on your blog?
I am considering purchasing your book "The Man who Would Stop at Nothing" from the Aerostich catalog. I would like to hear your interview.

Thanks Lori Marker

Jack said...


I listened to the interview and a couple of things stood out, but like others I believe it will nod harm the LDR community at large. There are always naysayers who will fume and fuss, but they're a minority, and if they don't "get it" they never will. I am enjoying "The Man" but I have found that it's a slow read on the iPhone, though very enjoyable. I "met" JR on the road south of Atlanta in the early morning of his last day into KW. I "surprised" him to say the least as he didn't know his tracking page had been shared. I rode alongside, gave hime a thumbs up and a salute, and peeled off at the next exit to return to m,y warm bed. He's an extraordinary guy and I respect his outlook on life and how he chooses to live it. Yes, he's not like you or I in a lit of ways, but in some he is and we aspire to be like him in some ways. Your writing is very entertaining, soothing even, and I think you for putting pen to our way of life.

Jack Ferguson

Melissa Holbrook Pierson said...

Lori, here you go:

Melissa Holbrook Pierson said...

Oh, and SB--yes, that John Ryan is sure a looker!

We loved meeting Greg Drevenstedt. He's the real deal: a genuinely terrific writer. Hard to find in general in the motorcycle press, but not at Rider (which is why I read it too).

Joe said...

Great interview (and I have no idea what possibly could be construed negatively in that interview. Go figure). Too, great post--and I'm glad the VA visit was fun. Talk soon!

Steve Branner said...

Melissa . . . I just finished reading "The Man . . . " It was spellbinding. As good as "The Perfect Vehicle". Doing the Jack Shoalamire ride last Saturday here in WV prevented me from getting to Morton's to get a signed copy. It arrived in the mail yesterday. I remember, vividly, the chat we had in Jax at the IBA party in 2010 about the IBA / IBR and am humbled that you decided to include my comments in the book. Thanx.


Melissa Holbrook Pierson said...

Steve, thank you for your generosity--and your indelible words. I enjoyed meeting you, and hope for a reprise.

By the way, I love the idea of the memorial ride: the group continuing the wishes of the individual. It's a powerful tribute to a person, as well as to the group itself. John Ryan made his contribution last night.