Ahead of the Curve
Motorcycles make sense. In a car you use two senses – sight and hearing. On a motorcycle you chase the other three – some would argue four. You feel the air, smell and taste the atmosphere, make tactile readings with your butt, feet, hands, and torso, and listen to the machine and the sounds of the land. You feel the cool, the heat, the dry, and the rain. You become the experience. “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey” becomes much more than a slogan.
Motorcycles are not inherently dangerous, but they carry an element of risk –not the same thing. Downhill skiing, skydiving, snorkeling, even golf… all carry risk. You reduce the risk with education, practice, correct equipment, and concentration. I’m a reasonably fit and active motorcyclist who rides many thousands of miles a year. I have not crashed since 1969. There are thousands like me. If you are in good health and have the coordination to drive, knit, or play tennis (not at the same time), you can ride a motorcycle. Which is not to say you should, necessarily.
What you need is a Motorcycle Safety Foundation class or similar (taught virtually everywhere), quality riding gear, a motorcycle, and lots of practice. Once you discover the joy of riding, you may well be truly hooked. At that point you will be puzzled by… the responses of others.
Want to be controversial? Edgy? Have the neighbors look askance at you, and folks at work wonder what you might be up to? Want people to think you’re “out there”? All you have to do is… ride a motorcycle!
I graduated from college, began a teaching career, got married, paid my taxes, and raised two children in a home in the suburbs. No scandals, no arrests, no drugs, nothing at all to make me unusual – except riding a motorcycle, which turned out to be more than enough!
Riding a motorcycle makes you “different.” I got my teaching job to more than some extent because school district folks thought I had ridden 1500 miles for an interview. Not entirely true, or true entirely, but it did make me a more memorable candidate than my grade transcript or anything on paper could or did.
People will make comments about your sanity and safety, sexual prowess, or lack of it, and political views. Such remarks are offensive, obtrusive, ignorant, and silly, but some struggle to come to grips with what seems impossibly adventurous to them. They’re jealous, in other words.
Why all the fuss? It could be that virtually everyone wants to ride a motorcycle, at some level, and has since childhood. Every child in a van or station wagon waves as you pass. Kids see a motorcycle as a pure expression of fun, and they remember it forever. A motorcyclist represents a hero, or one of the heroes they want to be in their own lives. We can lament the loss of this sense of adventure as most children age, but in the meantime… maybe it’s your turn to be your own hero?
Ride safe, ride fast, … and ride often!
David Preston copyright 2011