Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Why I Ride A Motorcycle

The  need to ride a motorcycle is almost impossible to explain to a non rider. In a world where comfort and convenience and separation from the natural world are all exemplified by the automobile, a thinking human that chooses to sit out in the weather unprotected on an inherently unstable machine equipped with power to spare but no rider protection is a choice impossible to explain rationally. So when I came across this superb essay by another member of the Iron Butt Association, one who rides further faster more efficiently and more often than I do, I wanted to share his words from his website because he expresses what I usually feel on two wheels more eloquently than I have ever managed.

Samuel Liles is well known apparently in the world of the Iron Butt Rally, a ride that I suspect is beyond my abilities or my desire to ride, and he combines intellect, emotion and riding ability and puts it all on the page like this. For those who think motorcycles are dangerous...stupid...pointless...this essay is for you. If you read this and understand because you sail...fly....rock climb...bicycle...dive...spelunk...collect stamps...whatever excites you, then you understand. If not, don't worry, motorcycles will never take over the world, happily for all of us.

Production notes: I have added the photos from my albums because readers expect pictures on my blog. Liles provides few in his essays and in this case he offers none. I did as required on his site, and raised my fist and shouted (to the astonishment of my colleagues) "Hack The Planet" and I have linked his copyrighted work. If you have never heard of the Iron Butt Association consider reading about them. I have done their two shorter rides and found them entirely manageable. I like slow touring and exploring as well if not more, but riding to a time and distance requirement has its excitements and thus is worth doing from time to time I think. Enough of me, read the essay and marvel:

Why I ride

I ride motorcycles to live. I am neither afraid nor endeared to the rest of the world. I am me and when I ride my motorcycle I get to be a little bit more me. Sometimes I am rude and crude and I get smacked around for it. Sometimes I am elegant and gentlemanly and I am rewarded for it. In the end when I am riding the motorcycle I am me. I don’t ask permission from anybody else to do this. I don’t ask forgiveness for turning a precious resource like dinosaurs into my form of fun. This is an activity about me. It is selfish, it is personal, and when I do it I know that I am better before, during and after the ride.

Riding a motorcycle and why I do it is personal. It is a part of who I am and who I have been for nearly 40 years of my life. I feel closer to that thing that connects me to reality and in some ways I feel removed from the place other people think is reality. I travel short distances, long distances, and intermediate distances. The noise of the road is drowned out by the screaming banshee of the worlds evil being torn from my skin in a blistering heat of righteousness. I listen to music with a new sense of wonder, I connect to the moment of a narrative I have created, and I see a future clearer for having given up the confines of a dead vehicle.

As the world rushes toward self driving cars I feel the physical sense of locomotion through my feet, hands and posterior. I shift, move, adapt, overcome, consider, calculate, role, move, and adjust to the moment. The road unfolds with majesty and grace, the trail of dirt and hard scramble unveils the future, the terror of darkness holds my soul enthralled in cones of light reaching towards my humanity. I see the world as a thread and woven fabric of physical, social, and emotional artifices.

I have suffered for this “sport” and “lifestyle” called such by those who can see the sweet but not taste it. I have broken bones, shed layers of skin, been bruised, torn tendons and ligaments and crushed my flesh when others have reached into my reality to remind I am only mortal. If I am mortal and fear the facts of that statement I am bound to live and not die slowly on a trip not of my own choosing via a mode of transportation I do not control to a destination I can not define. What is death to living that way?

I ride to feel the world pass by and see myself rushing into it. I want to see more and like a glutton I can never get enough of the vastness of a planet I will only see a small part of. I want to experience, feel, touch, and taste the wonders of the world I was born into. There is an aliveness to the motorcyclist who holds the totality of the experience in a moment, day, or life and can know the awesomeness of that experience. In the space between heart beats the senses tense ready to spring upon the next moment. Much as the moments of the world pass by my life on a motorcycle.

It is merely a motorcycle, a conveyance between two places, a silly gimmick, a machine of no consequence, and an objectification of masculinity to many. It is the place I share some of the warmest, fondest, and most romantic moments with my wife. It is the device that brought together each of my children to see another side of the world and experience the joy of being. It gave me the skills to reach into my tepid and despicable day-to-day grind and find a little joy as I shed the excess and enjoy the rest.

It is just a vehicle. A two wheeled vehicle. It is just a motorcycle and I am a motorcyclist.

Tons of reasons to ride a motorcycle.