If you have never ridden a motorcycle, you are truly missing out. There have been times it’s better than sex. Well, a really great ride can be better than really bad sex. Well, it can come close!
There is something about a motorcycle that I think makes it a more special machine than a car. There are other special machines–airplanes. Nuclear missiles. These are both special machines as well. And airplanes might be cool, but motorcycles are decidedly better than nuclear missiles.
So what is it about motorcycles that I like so much? Well, I like speed, but honestly, I don’t ride my bike like a rocket. My mother will be glad to read that. I have a “cruiser” which is built for comfort, not a “crotch rocket” designed for raw speed. So yes, there is some element of the wind rushing through my hair that I really enjoy, but that isn’t what makes it so special. After all, I could always just roll my window down in the car and stick my head out like a dog.
What I really love is balance. Balance. A motorcycle left to its own devices at a standstill, will fall down. That means that a rider has to have some sense of balance, and that is a very important part of riding. But what most people who’ve never been on a motorcycle don’t know, is that when the bike is in motion, it doesn’t want to fall down. In fact, it wants to stay up. You can thank physics for that one. When you get the two wheels of a motorcycle spinning, they exhibit some gyroscopic tendencies, and one of those is that when you lean over, and apply some power, the bike will straighten up. Now, obviously, you can’t lean over too far, they aren’t anti-gravity devices, but the result is that a motorcycle has a pretty unique sense of balance that I have yet to experience anywhere else.
Another key difference is the 360 degree view. Oh sure, in a car you can look forward, back, left, right. But whenever you look, there are those pesky support beams and “windows” getting in your view. When I turn my head on a motorcycle, all I see is the world around me. I feel much more in touch with the world around me, and I honestly think it makes you a better driver. We’ll get to the better person part later.
Okay, there is something to that whole “wind in your hair” thing too. That is, you are much more in touch with your environment on a bike. You smell everything you pass, fields, factories, cows. Yeah, you smell them in a car too, but it is just not the same. And I even like riding in foul weather. Rain is cold and prickly in a way that you’ll never experience in a car. However, in a hail storm, I’ll take the car. But the taste of bugs, and the sticky air on a hot summer night on a motorcycle–that is something truly wonderful, and nothing you will ever touch in a steel cage on four wheels.
Okay, so you are wondering, what about being on a motorcycle makes you a better person? I mean, after all, you’ve seen all those dirty bikers and their scruffy beards. Certainly they aren’t better people because of road grime! Well, as a matter of fact, I think they are. Bikers wear leather because it protects you from the elements and the road. Spend some time in the sun and on a bike, and see what it does to your hair. But mostly, every biker I’ve had the pleasure to meet has been an honest, hard working, friendly person, who would simply rather care about riding than care about an Armani suit. And I’d rather know them than your average lawyer any day.
For example, when I’m riding around in my car, just out and about, how many people in cars do you think wave at me when I pass? None. Really. In fact, I tried it the other day, and I actually had a person flip me off after waving at them. Friendly bunch, those car drivers. But this weekend, I took out my bike, and I encountered 14 riders out on the roads. And do you know how many of them waved at me? Every last one. In fact, many of them waved at me first. I love that. I love the camaraderie and friendliness that I encounter whenever I’m on my bike.
But most of all, I love the combination of all those things. Gliding gently down some forgotten country road, past the double-wides tucked away behind a hill or behind some trees, as the sun warms my arms and back, and as the air cools my face. Over the hills and around the curves I feel like my bike and my body are one, and as I lean left and right with the machine, I achieve a perfect sense of balance. I can smell the fresh cut grass and sweet sticky juniper, and as I see another rider approaching just over a hill, we can both raise our hands as we pass, and know that even as we ride on alone, we’ve shared something that very few ever will.