A lot of people wonder what the big deal is with bikes. They are too dangerous, some say. Or you can’t go places when it is raining. Or they are too loud.
Still others set out to explain to people what bikes are all about, maybe even try to convince people that it would be cool to own a bike. Melissa Holbrook-Peterson directed an entire memoir at the phenomenon of the motorcycle, searching for a formulation that a non-rider can understand.
This is something that no one should do.
There is indeed something awesome about riding a bike. But it cannot be named. It is not "feeling the wind in your face" or "freedom" or anything of that sort. Those are the nonsense ramblings of people who cannot express themselves. Which is true for all of us. As a rider, you are condemned to silence. You know only what you feel, and what you feel is a high immediacy, ungoverned by sensible justifications and universal appeals.
On occasion, I will hear from a stranger that, well, he would get a bike, but his girlfriend won’t let him. I do my best to withhold that look that emasculates those for whom masculinity is important. But I do say to him that perhaps he should try getting both a bike and a new girlfriend. Because this would be the option for anyone who was serious and not engaging in the fantasy of small talk.
You want to set out to be a rider. That is cool. Welcome. Just know that you are not really doing something reasonable. This is not about good gas mileage or the convenience of parking. Those are the myths that we lay on the people who don’t really understand. Riding is deeper than that.
Or much more shallow, as the case may be. On a motorcycle you can find a sage, a searcher or an idiot. Often you will not find a rider at all, but some kind of pretender working out his or her life process atop a machine to which they will never truly connect. This world is diverse and soon enough it will be your world.
Over the next few months, I will distill my perspective on motorcycles into a series of advice columns to you, the new rider. These reflections will be terribly biased, occasionally technical and mostly philosophical.
I will speak from the vantage of the sport bike, the only type of bike I have ever owned, or ridden really. Other types of bikes may see themselves represented, since there is a fantastic commonality among any who are on two wheels. But for the reader who suspects that the secrets of life are revealed on corner exit, the coming paragraphs may be especially helpful. Or ridiculous.
I haven’t ridden for that long in the grand scheme of things. Not even a decade yet. I know guys that have been on motorcycles since I was a baby.
But I want to ride forever; that is, I want to ride my whole life without having to leave the bike for reasons that I myself don't will. Like an accident. Or a wack girlfriend. I want you to ride forever too, if you so choose it. And that is the baseline from which everything to follow will be based. Stay tuned.