Riding a motorcycle satisfies my need for individual experience, but without excluding others. It allows me to be an individual, but also part of a community of shared experiences.
Whether solo riding, part of a small group of close friends, or part of a large organized ride, the advice is always the same; “ride your own ride”.
I can choose to ride in silence, to listen to the music, sing, talk to others in my group through intercoms… I can do whatever makes it the best experience for me at that moment. My experience does not prevent others from doing the same, and my freedom is not an imposition on others.
It offers a means of recreation and self-expression that is unlike any other. The motorcyclist can experience travel without the confinement of an automobile, able to use all your senses to actually experience the world around you. By world, I don’t just mean the environment you ride through, but your place in it as a part of it.
More than just the “5 Senses”
Yes, you can hear, see, smell, touch, and taste the environment around you; sometimes a bad thing, but mostly a good thing. There are lots of articles on how riding effects the five senses, but there are other important ‘senses’ in play.
Motorcycling puts you in touch with your sense of balance, sense of direction, sense of adventure, sense of wonder, sense of accomplishment, and sense of community.
No roof-line limits your appreciation of the towering heights of cliffs, mountains or trees. No car A-pillars and B-pillars “frame” your view of nature’s majesty, everywhere you look you get the entire panorama.
4 wheel vehicles encourage passivity, just put in the minimum effort to not hit anything and everything will be fine. Modern autonomous vehicles are striving to eliminate even that little bit of participation in the journey.
But motorcycling is different. You have to be more “present” on a motorcycle. 2 wheel vehicles require you to be a vigilant participant in the entire journey. From pre-ride TCLOCS to making the simplest turn, you have to be “present” and using your body to successfully complete the journey. You see the sun and clouds, you feel the wind and the road. Your body controls the speed, shifting, leaning, lane position. A high-speed delayed apex turn in a car is a one-finger exercise, on a bike it a whole-body activity that leaves you exhilarated.
It’s all about the journey, not just about the ride.
On a motorcycle you stop more often, and are more likely to interact with others when you stop. This “community of the road” is part of the adventure, and you can participate as an equal.
Social class, race, gender, religion, and all of the other things that we let divide us in our daily lives melt away when huddled under shelter from a storm, refueling at a lonely gas station, gathered around a campfire or any of the myriad opportunities to interact.
When you pull in to a hotel, gas station or restaurant and see motorcycles in the parking lot, you know that there are people “like you” already there.
Half of the people you meet are probably coming from where you want to go, and the other half are going where you’ve already been.
They are almost always willing to share the latest information on weather, road conditions, and good (or bad) places to eat/sleep/visit. In return, you can provide them with the same. Equality at it’s best.
It doesn’t matter if your faith system relies on God creating the world for your enjoyment, or random organization of molecules aligning in complex and pleasing patterns, or something else entirely.
Are you not in awe when driving through giant sequoias?
Can you remain unmoved by the view of forested slopes stretching away from a snow-capped mountain peak?
Do wild animals drinking from crystal clear water leave you numb?
I don’t think so. You are there. You are a part of it.
Motorcyclists may disagree about politics, religion and a host of other topics, but can we at least agree that this form of “wind therapy” puts us back in touch with our better selves?
That part of us that feels connected to the world at a deeper level, where we appreciate the beauty and mystery that surrounds us.
That’s why I ride a motorcycle.