“It’s ironic how you feel most alive when your heart skips a few beats.” These popular words of wisdom can be seen on posters, T-shirts, and social media posts. They illustrate that heart-palpitating fear and heart-bursting joy, while residing on opposite ends of our emotional spectrum, can both cause an “adrenaline rush” that frequently blurs the line between the two.
The “fight or flight” hormone of adrenaline is released into the bloodstream to speed up the body’s reaction time in high-pressure situations. Adrenaline increases our performance ability, heightens our senses, and decreases our ability to feel pain. It does this by breaking down sugar to give muscles a boost of energy and strength while also directing blood toward the brain and major muscle groups. With adrenaline coursing through the body, our hearts beat faster, we breathe more rapidly, and we perspire as muscle cells are contracted beneath the skin, causing us to feel “the jitters.”
The adrenaline rush, caused by a collision of fear and pleasure in intense and thrilling activities, can be habit-forming. Thrill seekers walk the fine line between adrenaline caused by terror or by euphoria. While physical dangers of height and speed are popular with people considered “adrenaline junkies,” other activities bearing the emotional hazard of success or failure can also provide the element of risk necessary for the addicting jolt; the uncertainty of the outcome delivers the buzz.
For many Columbians, hurtling through the open air at 70 miles per hour astride a motorcycle is an exhilarating addiction rather than a paralyzing fear. While I would not consider myself an adrenaline junkie, I certainly enjoy adventurous activities that deliver a rush; however, it was not without some trepidation that I prepared myself for my first motorcycle ride. After snapping a few photos, photographer, writer, and motorcyclist Van Kornegay gave me a whirl around the 701 Whaley ballroom, which was as exhilarating as it was exotic. Zooming through the space where I have attended so many events is an experience I will never forget! Maybe next time I will graduate to a ride on the open road.
On page 50, enjoy Van’s beautiful photography and his story of several Columbians’ passion for motorcycles.
So, what gives you a thrill of exhilaration? What inspires you to take a risk? I hope you take the leap to enjoy it this spring!