The Lovely Mrs. Smith and I decided to brave the big old world outside our driveway and see what life was like since the Before Times.
Or, we got away to a rented (and delivered by experts) RV to Eureka Springs.
We've always enjoyed Eureka Springs, and, despite being in lock-down to the degree we both felt like a groundhog looking for his shadow, we weren't disappointed.
However, besides all the obvious changes (I mean, people didn't always wear masks in Eureka Springs prior to this year. At least most of them didn't), I did notice one thing.
It's unfair to say that over the past few years, Eureka Springs has been overrun by bikers. I mean, that sounds like an invasion or a pestilence, and neither could be further from the truth. It is fair to say a lot of people who like to ride motorcycles like to ride them to, in and around Eureka Springs. Totally understandable, if a little "groupthink-y." I mean, you're not exactly blazing a trail when the trail is marked with signs saying "Bikers Welcome. Turn Here."
But, as a person who doesn't ride motorcycles but thinks it sure seems like fun for those who do, the idea of lots of bikers in Eureka Springs is more an observation than a comment and certainly not a complaint.
Now, it appears the bikers have competition for biker dominance in Eureka Springs. Mountain biking (another one of those things I personally don't do but seems like fun if that's your thing) is significantly represented these days. I mean, surprise, Eureka Springs is in the mountains so it seems a bit of a natural (or Natural State) fit.
So there sure are a lot of bikers in Eureka Springs. Not those bikers. OK, yeah, well, those bikers as well. Lots of bikers. And bikers. Not exactly a Sharks and Jets kind of thing, but certainly a contrast.
It's been a bit, but I have tried both mountain biking and motorcycles. Needless to say the fact I don't currently participate has more to do with my skill sets than the relative merits of the activities. Trees and streets don't give the way they used to, but my bones give really, really well.
From my experience over the weekend, the biggest difference between bikers and bikers (OK, besides the engines and the size of the equipment and the speed and, basically, everything about bikes versus bikes) is that motorcycles are a bit noisier than mountain bikes.
Perhaps it's because mountain bikes are operating out in the woods and I just don't hear them. Perhaps, based on my personal experience, the helmets hold in all the screaming. Or, you know, motors – hence the name.
Also, merely anecdotally, it seems mountain bikers appear happier at the conclusion of their activity. Perhaps it's that motorcycles ride a lot, and it's hard to be slaphappy thrilled every time you climb on the bike. And, while any time you get on a highway with other vehicles all possibilities are open, there seems to be a significantly lower chance of really bad things happening to you if you're just out tooling around.
That is, of course, the sort of attitude it's easy to take if you're not actually having to ride a motorcycle. At worst, they seem terribly vulnerable and exposed to much larger vehicles, many of which are being piloted by people not paying as much attention as they probably should.
At best, well, it's always possible something could happen. I mean, as an illustration, the chances of getting attacked by a bear in the parking lot are small, but they're never zero.
Mountain bikers, on the other hand, seem downright elated every time they climb off the bike after a ride. Lots of whooping and high-fiving and all that stuff.
Now, all things considered, you have to wonder if they're happy they did it, or happy it's done and they survived. But they do seem very, very happy.
And that's good to see. It's a strange, strange time out there, and it's a challenge to find or even observe joy in the world. So if folks want to ride motorcycles down a highway or bicycles down a mountain or feed squirrels at a campground (which, may have happened. Just saying), well, now, more than ever, that's a pretty good thing.
Ride on friends. And remember your masks. But you probably already knew that.
Gary Smith is a recovering journalist living in Rogers.