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The desire to be free is nothing new and has been the source of man’s protests for thousands of years. In todays digital pressure cooker world, it is even harder than to find – but when we ride our bikes we’re getting pretty close. Only bikers know there is nothing to beat the sight of the open road – we all know the feeling; we’ve picked the right day to take our favourite machine out on that silky ribbon of black-top snaking into the hills; the sun is out, visor’s up, feet on the pegs; we’re smiling. Today’s ride is going to be a good one. We’re free again.
So why do we bikers prefer to ride our bike than to drive a car? The non-bikers will never understand why we love it so much because they only see the dangers. What is it that makes us forsake those creature comforts for the wind in the hair, flies in the teeth experience that is motorcycling? There are, of course, all the obvious reasons – easy to park, faster to accelerate, better gas mileage – but they aren’t the answer. As a great thinker once said, ‘Four wheels move the body, two wheels move the soul’. For a biker, the ride is the destination; wherever it is we’re headed is secondary to the means of getting there; our joy is in the journey. Every mile that we ride involves us in hundreds of tiny decisions which, with time and experience, become as easy as breathing itself; watch the wind, read the surface, anticipate the traffic, listen to the bike. No other road user is as involved as the biker in the actual process of travel. As Robert Pirsig said in his book, Zen and the Art of Motorcyle Maintenance, ‘In a car you’re always in a compartment…..everything you see is just more TV.’ But on a bike he says, ‘You’re in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming.’ And we know exactly what he means.
As well as the development of the special perceptory powers that us bikers have developed to keep us safe, we’re lucky enough to exist in a community of very special people that display a camaraderie virtually unknown out there on the road among other users. We don’t just nod at and acknowledge each other at the filling station. There is an unwritten convention uniting bikers which means they will always help other bikers on the road, no matter what, because we know that another would definitely stop to help us if the need arose. Yes, there are dangers out there, but minimising the risk is the reward. The feeling of true freedom can only exist on two wheels.
So next time you go for a bike ride, remember to smile and remind yourself why you love it.