We were having lunch, the kids and I, in the small town of Val-des-Bois. It’s quiet mid-week, a stretch of road spotted with homes and a variety of businesses. Most of the traffic is travelers and cottagers passing through. The diner we’re at is fairly busy, as is the hardware store, and the bakery, but all else may as well have been closed. The depanneur (corner store) across the street sells gas and occasionally has a line-up for it’s two pumps and a few drop-ins for a case of beer or a litre of milk. All in all, it was a pleasant kind of small town activity.
As I sat listening and watching all around me, I detected a low rumbling sound coming from up the road. It didn’t really register in my mind what it was. A construction vehicle maybe, a boat motor on a nearby lake possibly? But as the sound got closer it became unmistakable. I’m no expert on motorcycles, but the engine of a Harley-Davidson is not too difficult to distinguish from that of other bikes. Sure enough, seconds later the group started pulling into the gas pumps at the depanneur.
Up here it’s common to see motorcycles, single or a small group. The roads are perfect for riding; freshly paved, winding, and hilly. The scenery is superb. I’ve often, after being passed by a couple on a motorcycle on the way up here, day-dreamed of being on that bike, feeling the air, the freedom of “the open road” (as people in-the-know often say). I’ve been on a bike only a few times, as a passenger, and loved every minute of it (except when I tripped on my skirt getting off a bike in front of a busy taverna in Greece…but that’s another story and one I’d gladly forget).
There must have been twenty bikes maybe more. They just kept coming. Most of the men wore leather jackets with identical insignias on their backs. Probably a club (do they call them clubs?) I figured but which one I had no idea. Only two or three stopped for gas and the rest, I thought, had taken off to another part of town. But I was wrong. After what seemed like a long time, the low growl emanated from just beyond my line of sight. It seems they had magically condensed into a very small parking lot at the side of the depanneur which I couldn’t see from the diner. In my mind I could hardly imagine that many bikes had been able to park there. But they had and now they were leaving.
As the low growl grew into what at first seemed like dissonance, it became surprisingly harmonized as every engine reached its full power. The engines sounded like caged beasts breaking free from captivity as their drivers burst from the parking lot and onto the road again. Although I couldn’t see them I tried visualized their departure and wondered where they were off to. Perhaps they had no set destination. I looked at the blue sky dotted with large fluffy clouds and thought, had I been one of them, I certainly wouldn’t be in any rush to get anywhere. That would definitely be a situation where the ride is the destination.