Motorcycles, Travel & Adventure


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About Whatchathinkin'

Backroads’ fairer half, Shira Kamil, has an interesting perspective on the day-to-day things riders run into which is both extremely well written and informative. She adds a new polish to the editorial team here at Backroads.

Name: Shira Kamil

Current Rides: Honda 919, Suzuki V-Strom 650

Favorite quote:

If it all falls down, falls down, falls down; If they solve my life, if they find me out; Never thought to keep all I have found; I have had my fun, if it all falls down.

- Jimmy Buffett • If It All Falls Down - Floridays

Reaction and State of Mind

It was a sunny morning in late November, actually pretty nice, with the temperature in the mid-40s, and I was driving from bucolic northwest New Jersey to the overcrowded suburbia that is Bergen County. I had been making this trip frequently recently, helping my mom move from her home for the past 20 years to a more social setting. Today I had Brian along for company to assist with the heavy lifting. Somewhere around Hackensack, I noticed a small yellow spider making its way across the top of the front window. Traffic on Route 80 was not too crazy, and I could periodically glance at its progress across the vast expanse of glass.

I mentioned to Brian that there was a spider in the car. ‘Inside or out?’ he asked. ‘Definitely inside,’ I said.

Now, I’m not thrilled about spiders; they don’t completely freak me out, and I know that most are just going about their spidery business with no ill-intent meant towards me, but I really don’t like to be trapped in the same enclosure with them for any period of time.Whatchathinkin

I saw that this little yellow fellow had disappeared somewhere. I thought to myself, ‘Okay, he’s found a hiding place, I’m good with that.’ But a few miles later, I spied, with my little eye, eentsy teensy crawling along the dash.

‘Brian, the spider’s back and making its way towards you.’

‘Wait, I’ll get it and put it out the window,’ he gallantly offered.

‘No, it’s okay, I think it’ll be alright until we get there.’

We were about two minutes from our destination, slowing for a red light, when I felt something on my left hand. That little yellow bastard had the gall to drop down and scare the beejesus out of me. Like any girly-girl reaction, I let out a scream, lifting my hands and feet in the air and…

rolled into the nice Volvo stopped in front of me, while Brian strongly suggested that I STEP ON THE BRAKE. After taking his strong suggestion, I popped out of the car to see what I had done. For some inexplicable reason, I began rubbing my hand over the spot on the Volvo’s bumper, as if to smooth out any damage that may have been. The female driver of the Volvo said, ‘I’d like to see, if you don’t mind.’ I looked at her quizzically and started babbling about the spider and how it had startled me and how sorry I was and, and, and…

She just looked at the non-damaged bumper, shook her head and got back in her car. I kept a good distance from her for the remainder of the few miles to my destination.

On the last fairly decent Sunday in November for a nice ride, Brian and I set out to do our ‘no particular place to go for a couple of hours’ loop. Normally when it’s just the two of us, Brian takes point but today he decided to follow the leader. I, of the tribe who wandered the desert for 40 days and nights, took off in a completely different direction to explore the wilds of the Walpack Valley. Remember, it’s the end of November, our area had already had a bit of snow and lots of rain, and even though this day was mild, we had seen freezing temps. The Walpack Valley, on a good day, is almost like an off-road course. Dodging the shadows to avoid any potential black ice, we explored the potholes and debris-scattered tarmac (partially, at least) of this truly beautiful area.

There they were: four or five Forest Romulans, or deer to those who don’t read these pages on a constant basis, appearing out of nowhere to my left and scampering in front of me. Due to the scarred surface of the road, we were doing a very modest pace and I reacted accordingly, slowly applying both brakes and letting these little fu…critters go on their way. I heard Brian in my helmet, ‘Oh no!’ As he was a good distance behind me, there was no issue with his slowing as well. No panic on my part, not even a quickened heartbeat…yet. We both reached over to flick on our Hornet Deer Alerts – hindsight is always 20/20.

About a mile or so later, I realized my adrenaline had kicked in, just for a minute or so. It’s amazing how a potentially disastrous event can be handled without a blink of an eye. I thought to the braking exercises we’d done not a month ago at Virginia International Raceway with CLASS. Being alert and constantly scanning your riding environment is so key.

Reaction to a surprise situation, and the way the brain processes it, is a funny thing. That little harmless spider caused more angst than a herd of deer that could have ended a perfectly lovely day.