Head Shake – The Motorcycle Gene

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By Chris Kallfelz

The real cycle you’re working on is a cycle called yourself.

–Robert Pirsig

Pirsig’s words ring true as I fast approach the one-year anniversary of a hospital stay that woke me to the fact that life is not an 8-lap sprint race, it’s an endurance event, and you never know exactly when the checkered flag will fall. I do tend to miss the glaringly obvious at times, it’s true, my DNA says so, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

My 8-lap sprint attitude landed me in the ICU for the better part of a week last year while a whole team of medical professionals tried to coax my internal chemistry back into a range normally associated with the living. As my new nephrologist cheerfully observed while reviewing my blood results after they had stuck a PICC line in my jugular, “People have died with these numbers!” She didn’t have to be so chipper about it.

The first column I wrote upon being liberated from the hospital recounted a weird memory that had been jogged in what was truly a mind-bending experience in recuperation. My life didn’t flash before my eyes – a Harley-Davidson Sturgis I had seen almost 40 years previous did. My priorities have always been a bit skewed. A change in race strategy was called for, aside from some lifestyle changes which have left me viceless save but for the occasional profane outburst now and again, I’m a virtual choir boy now, albeit a choir boy with a lifelong motorcycle monkey on his back. That habit is not open to negotiation.

That unplanned hospital stay prompted a lot of questions from a lot of smart and educated people about just what makes me tick, and a good deal of time since then has been devoted to trying to figure that out. …read more

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