No, I am not talking about stinky motorcycle boots, or the smell of one's helmet padding after 3 days of riding in a hot desert, and directly before it is thrown into the washing machine with nothing else, simply because you are willing to waste the energy and water on a load all it's own and not taint anything else with its odor.
For those who ride, you totally get this and no doubt have great stories of your own. For everyone who doesn't ride, this may come as a bit of a surprise. On a motorbike, even with a full-face helmet, the scents that assault a rider can range from heavenly to horrific. Sometimes the smells are so good you want to ride in that spot forever. Sometimes they are so bad, you think time is actually standing still and there will be no end to it. Ever. You become certain the stench will never leave your nasal passages, that you may actually asphyxiate before you ride out of that malodorous mile.
On the heavenly side: (breathe deeply, smiling...)
My ride to work in Denver each morning encounters really good smells. Some mornings, at the junction of 6th Ave. and I 25, I smell the luscious scent of baking bread. I don't know if there is a bakery near where I smell it--I've searched and haven't seen one. It's a comforting, enveloping, yeasty scent. I suppose it could be beer brewing, as there are a number of breweries in that area, but it really smells like bread. On other mornings, in roughly the same area, it smells like grilled onions. So good! It is like being near an In N Out.
Riding through the Central Coast of California, and Santa Maria in particular, during strawberry season sits high on the amazing list. There is nothing like riding through fields of giant, red, perfectly ripe berries warming in the sun and sending their scent straight into my helmet. If you've never done it, I would have to say it is well worth seeking out. The other fields I love riding through are cilantro fields. I love the overwhelming fresh, soapy, cilantro scent!
Highway 101, between Santa Barbara and Ventura smells so strongly of the briny sea as the waves crash just below you at high tide. This can be found anywhere along Highway 1, as well as many places in Oregon and Washington. As soon as I get back to the west coast, it's one of my favorite things to do--ride the coast and breathe deeply.
Then, there are flower fields. Ahhhh...riding past fields of lavendar...so nice.
On the horrific side: (I remind you that holding one's breath on a motorcycle is not a good idea...)
Sometimes, riding past a restaurant is a happy surprise of scents coming out of the kitchen, making me feel hungry. But, sometimes you're on the wrong side of the restaurant, and you only smell the dumpsters...retch.
On the small back roads between Portland and Corvallis, Oregon, settled amongst beautiful green, gently rolling hills, is the foulest smelling dump I have ever ridden past. It's funny how it comes on quite gently at first, easily a mile before the sign for the turnoff. Maybe it was two miles--or two hundred--before the turnoff, I don't know. I just know there was something a little funny in my nose. Then, it was a little funky. Then it was really funky, and just when I thought I couldn't smell anything worse, it hit me full on. My eyes watered and I tried desperately not to open my mouth out of fear I would then be tasting it. Oh god, so bad.
Then there was the day I was out riding with Josh and Ian all day and I was leading on the last leg heading back to Denver. As we came into Evergreen, a truck pulled out in front of me and cruised along the road in front of me. There was no where to pass on the twisty two-lane mountain road, and what was in the back of that oh-so-slowly moving truck? Not strawberries. Not fresh bread or a thousand In N Out burgers. Nope. It was full of port-a-potties. Yup, an entire flatbed truck, pulling a trailer full of blue plastic outhouses. Honey pots. Port-a-shitters. Choose your favorite name, kill me now.
Then there are the days, riding in a group, when you suddenly begin to wonder who farted ahead of you...hahahahahahahahahaha! Sena headsets quickly blow up with people yelling and passing the blame, and you finally realize it's just the Coors Brewery. Not that that's ever happened....