The biker’s life is the only life for me. I’ve been riding motorcycles for more than 30 years and it still stirs my soul.
Talking with my riding buddies, we all have so many things in common, share so much richness of experience we’ve gathered from all those miles. So many great memories. When you’re on the road, there’s a richness, a clarity, a fund of reality and perspective accumulating that’s hard to put into words.
The best, most experienced riders I know don’t really think about it that much, they just do it, and their riding seems effortless. Kind of like a musician who just knows the song. But I guess we’re all striving for that.
Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned during 30 years of twisting the throttle. Not everyone will agree with everything I say here, but hopefully you’ll recognize some of it from your own experiences.
If you’re meant to ride a motorcycle, nothing will stop you: not lack of money, nor discouragement from friends and loved ones. Call it love, a malady, an obsession, some of us have riding in our bones. Do you?
Even after 30 years of riding, I learn something about myself every time I get on my bike. I think that may have something to do with why I still ride.
I was never a fast rider, but over time I became a smooth rider. I feel the need to be aware not only of what’s happening in front of me when riding, but behind and to the sides. It’s better to predict than react. And if you believe that everyone eventually crashes, then you should think about that hardest when you’re getting your gear on for that day’s ride.
When I was 14, I had a pretty gnarly bicycle crash. While I sat in the emergency room having gravel scrubbed out of my palms with a wire brush, screaming, right then I made up my mind “Always wear gloves when riding”. And that is even more important to remember when riding on a motorcycle.
Riding off-road makes you a better rider on road, because you learn how to handle situations where traction is lacking and not panic when obstacles come out of nowhere.
The earlier you get up to ride, the better your ride will be.
The hardest days you have on your bike will be the ones you remember most. Hailstorms, hurricanes, and breakdowns test you, and often require you to seek the assistance of others. We’ve always found that people go out of their way to help, especially in remote areas. These experiences have always given me a renewed belief in the inherent goodness of man.
Living in the moment is inseparable from the motorcyclist’s experience of riding a bike. Riding is about as pure an exercise in “present moment living” as you can have. Our bodies and minds meld with the motorcycle, the controls become an extension of our thoughts. When we ride well, there is little conscious thought involved, it’s just being and doing.
Being for or against a particular brand or type of bike is a matter of pride for some bikers. But whether it’s a Harley, Ducati, Honda, BMW, Triumph, Kawasaki, Moto Guzzi or KTM there’s no essential difference in the tru bilker’s joy in the machine. Over time you eventually understand that nearly every motorcycle has something worthy about it, and being prejudiced against any of them limits the quality of your life.
Through riding, I’ve made some lifelong friends. Friends I would have never had met if I wasn’t in the world of motorcycling. Every day spent on two wheels twisting the throttle is an epiphany.