“HOW COME YOU RIDE A MOTORCYCLE?” How many times have you been asked that question?
Or, the more direct one that will be asked is, “Aren’t motorcycles dangerous?”
I will often reply, “Of course motorcycles are dangerous. And that’s why they are not for everyone.”
If the person is actually interested in taking the discussion further, I warn them that I could talk about motorbikes until the sun goes down, and comes up again, and I could keep going on and on after that. (And although that’s a true statement, it’s also a ploy to avoid a conversation with someone who may not be that interested in the first place.) In which case I’ll gauge their level of interest, and consider my mood, and determine if I want to have the conversation at all, or if this is someone who just considers I’m a crazy biker (which I receive as a compliment).
In other words, sometimes I won’t offer much about riding at all, other than to answer a few questions.
After some number of years of talking to riders and non-riders, it finally dawned on me that it’s really not easy (perhaps not possible) to describe to non-riders why motorcyclists do what they do.
If a non-rider does appear to be truly interested, I’ll let them know that I’ll be happy to answer any further questions they have, but I also let them know I won’t encourage them to get a bike. That decision will need to be theirs, alone.
RIDING AS A PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY
In my mind, riding isn’t something to take up just for the sake of trying it out (although there’s nothing wrong with that). The way I see it, to really enjoy riding, one needs to proactively acquire the necessary skills and competence to not only enjoy it, but to survive. (And that competence will not be gained by taking a weekend training course, or getting a motorcycle license, although those are a very good start!)
Even then it is unlikely that such a new rider will yet have the capacity to truly respect the risks they are confronting.
Hence, I consider that riding is best viewed as a matter of personal responsibility, rather than as merely another interesting hobby to check out for someone who may consider it as a casual pastime. Frankly, I consider that such a rider is better off checking it out, and learning as quickly as possible, that motorcycling is not for everyone, and certainly not for this person.
On the other hand, I do not begrudge anyone who would take up motorcycles as a hobby and consider it in a way that someone might try out, say, downhill skiing, for the sake of example. (I like skiing, too). But the reality is, way more people get hurt and killed as a result of riding motorcycles, than skiing down mountains. So, the riding life should be considered in the appropriate light.
And although there’s no way to know when you or I are going to bite the bullet, I sure am glad I’m not going through the process of being a newbie to motorcycles and learning how to ride all over again. (I still don’t know how I survived my teenage years on these things).
THE SIMPLICITY OF INCOMPARABLE PLEASURE
For me, the simplicity is, riding offers an incomparable amount of pleasure, regardless of the risks. And though the inherent “risks” have been reduced over the decades as my riding skills and awareness have continued to improve, I’m also cognizant that the fundamental risk will never go away.
I could be killed tomorrow by a soccer mom in an SUV who is yelling at her kids, talking on her phone, applying make-up, while trying not to spill her coffee. Afterwards, she may very well be sorry for having killed me. But the probability is, she’ll be more concerned about putting the whole incident behind her while trying to extricate herself from the matter by way of taking as little responsibility as possible. In other words, it’s more likely she will be focused on diminishing any potential legal troubles than taking responsibility for any inattentive actions on her part. Who knows, for a few weeks, she may even give up applying make-up while on the road.
This is not intended to be a condemnation of soccer moms, but merely a reflection of the reality that drivers of 4-wheeled vehicles cannot be expected to be as responsible on the roads as an experienced rider. Bikers who have been riding for years inherently know they had better be more aware of what’s going on all around them out on the public roadways, than anyone else that he/she is sharing the pavement with.
MOTORCYCLISTS ARE A MINORITY
The good news is, that such a probability keeps the ranks of motorbike riders at the levels they have been. In other words, I’m GLAD motorcycle riders only make up a small percentage of the riding public. Although I welcome with open arms any folks who wish to join the clan of global riders, I’m not one to encourage anyone to do so. I’d be just as content if there were only a fraction of the riders on the road.
Here at the very top of Southern California, my favorite riding season is the winter when there are a lot less bikes around. You kinda get the sense that when you give a nod or wave to someone riding in the off-season, that they’ve been riding a while, and this isn’t just a weekend hobby for them.
RIDING IS NOT FOR EVERYONE
So, although I am not at all opposed to more riders, and as stated earlier, I welcome ALL riders to the fold, the truth is, motorcycle riding is NOT for everyone. And I like it that way.
So, Why Do YOU Ride?
(Add your comments below)