Spirit Traffic is the story of the 10,000-mile motorcycle trip the author C. Jane Taylor took with her husband, John, and son, Emmett, to celebrate Emmett’s college graduation. They were all new riders, and it was their first trip. In May, Jane and John took Spirit Traffic back to the road on their BMW 650 GSs for a 97-day national book tour. Below is her first installment of Postcards from the Road, which will be published every Monday.
Related Story: C. Jane Taylor Rides 6,000 Miles on National Book Tour
May 15, 2022
Wary of Covid’s tenacious grip, all the authors I know were staying away from in-person events. They promoted their books solely online, throwing their book launch parties on Zoom. I needed to break out of the pattern without engendering a book launch super spreader. In the brief lull between Covid’s Delta and Omicron surges, we masked up and partied in person with both big garage doors open at ArtsRiot in Burlington, Vermont.
Three local shops brought motorcycles and scooters. We filled the bar with bikes, people, music, and enthusiasm. It was spring, or nearly so (blizzards are not unheard of in April in Vermont), and there’s something about a roomful of motorcycles that brings out one’s inner rebel. For many in attendance, it was their first foray into the public arena after two years of confinement. We really partied. I read from my book, took questions, then turned the mic around inviting guests to share their own stories on the theme “adventure as I see it.”
The stories ranged from an Indian tuk tuk cliff hanger to a tale of vaginal dryness. Though the subject of vaginal dryness might seem wildly inappropriate at a motorcycle book launch, it can be hilarious with the right spin. In this case, the vagina in question was likened to a newly polyurethaned gym floor. (Imagine the squeak of basketball sneakers stopping suddenly on a gym floor and you’ll start to cringe with understanding.) Once we overcame the shock factor of the subject matter and maybe because of the shock factor, we howled with raucous laughter.
These kinds of audience stories would distinguish my national book tour. Of course, I wanted to sell books, but more than that I wanted to inspire adventure. The mere presence of motorcycles inspires adventure, and my husband John and I would be on our bikes: the two BMW 650s we rode on our Spirit Traffic trip cross-country.
After a night of bikes, adventure stories, and dancing to DJ Disco Phantom, it started to snow. Instead of riding the 20 miles home, we duck-walked our bikes over the sidewalk through the big, wet flakes to a friend’s house two blocks away.
Three weeks later, John and I got boosted and rode out. We had engaged appearances at bookstores, bars, libraries, motorcycle shops, and living rooms across the country from Maine and Montreal to Tucson and Santa Cruz – a national book tour.
Day One rocked.
After a day of sunny travel down Vermont’s Route 7, I gave a well-attended reading at the Black Box Theatre at Simon’s Rock, my alma mater in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Bard College at Simon’s Rock is a four-year residential college that accepts high school juniors and seniors. It is also home of the Rocker Motorcycle Club, who sponsored my appearance. Inspiring confidence, skill-building, and a little Zen maintenance, the club (made up of 17-, 18-, and 19-year-olds) takes older motorcycles, fixes them up, sells them, and finds more motorcycles to work on.
For my reading, we had both bikes on stage (they look larger than life on a stage indoors); the audience had great questions and fun stories. One of them involved the adventures of two very large young men riding together on a small Honda 350 on spring break from Massachusetts to Florida and back in the early ’80s.
Afterward, John and I followed our host (also riding an older BMW, his a 1986 K75C with a Sprint Fairing) home along winding Berkshire roads. It was one of only a few night rides I have ever done. Riding in the dark feels strangely free, like floating in clear Caribbean water but with the occasional fox racing across the headlight’s glow.
For breakfast, our hosts Cathy and Monk buttled us with fresh-baked rosemary bread and a carafe of great coffee which we enjoyed on a porch surrounded by birds – titmouse, chickadee, phoebes, juncos, blue jays, rose-breasted grosbeak, and a scarlet tanager. It was the first morning of the three-month trip with nearly fifty book-signings. We were on our way!
Keep the rubber side down.
Spirit Traffic can be purchased on the author’s website. It is also available on eBook and as an audio book read by the author.