The Norton 850 Commando is a
sinewy and raw boned motorcycle from the last days of the British Motorcycle Empire. Lightweight, maneuverable, and temperamental when it came to
reliability. Being a typical young man of the 70’s I liked fast motorcycles in
those days and the Norton filled the ticket. I also read Nietzsche as
entertainment back then and understood when he said "the greatest
enjoyment of existence is to live dangerously". Living dangerously is a poor
man’s meditation and I was a poor man and a serious meditator. You could scream
down sections of Hwy 9 at 110 MPH in those days and if your luck held you could
make it home again just to do it again a few days later. The attraction of
living dangerously through speed on the back of a fast demon is the adrenal
rush colliding with a point in time when you no longer dare to think. If you think you will die as your mind is too slow to interpret the dangers and react in time. Hwy 9 is a river of highway consisting of turns
both casual and hairpin, straightaways, stop signs, oncoming traffic, blinking yellow caution
beacons and the occasional piece of farm equipment lazily entering the highway.
You run on instinct, reaction and experience on that type of road at serious speed. No mind is pure Zen and so is
a Norton at insane speeds on a dangerous highway. You become pure awareness at
110 mph. You are Zen. It's true you typically do not have a long career as a
meditator that way but the people who have done it and lived
understand what I mean.
Times change. People move to the country and the country becomes the suburbs. Hwy 9 through Snohomish county
is a commuter highway now and anyone foolish enough to see how fast their
Japanese or Italian super bike will go on Hwy 9 won’t be eating supper at home
that evening. It's still a painters paradise however and that's why 9 still holds an attraction for me.