This question has been posed to motorcyclists throughout the years. The answers are all very different; the speed, excitement, danger, an escape, a cheap form of travel. Whatever the case may be, we, who choose to ride, are part of an overall culture that is addicted.
Motorcyclists, as a cultural entity, have grown from the roving delinquent gangs of the 50s and 60s, to modern day adventurists. From customization to raw speed, motorcycles have been a welcome addition to many peoples lives. While we all choose to ride our own way, be it alone, or in large groups, there are very few instances of there being a wrong way(aside from riding wildly reckless through commuter traffic). This is why I ride:
I ride because riding on anything with two or three wheels has exhilarated me since before I could remember. From the first time I rode on my grandpa’s Yamaha YT200E to the most recent purchase, a 2020 Suzuki V-Strom 650XT, I’ve been riding bikes and atv’s longer than I’ve been legally allowed to drive any other vehicle.
The start came when we would visit my grandpa out at his land, he had a good sized acreage that we would traverse with three wheelers and miscellaneous trucks that he had. We’d ride down to the pond, through the fields, jump off some raised hills, and through the adjoining families properties. This gave us a freedom, as younger kids in the family, that we hadn’t been able to experience. Motorized Exploration. From there, my mother purchased a couple of mini bikes, a mini scooter and a little 50 Honda bike. In suburbia, we’d take what we could get, which was gassing around the parking lot of a Food Lion.
This excitement quickly faded when there was a loud explosion and the motor exploded into pieces (due to us not realizing what a two-stroke was). Saddened, we were limited to the scooter, but we still rode it into the ground. We eventually traded up to an XR100 dirt bike and a custom built Honda 350 three wheeler.
From there, our lives took some different turns. My brother kept it in the dirt, while I pushed the asphalt. We both have been riding for the majority of our lives and I don’t see either of us stopping. I’ve finally got him on the road with me and I’m excited to see where we go.
My story is that of a growth on two wheels, constantly changing and pushing. I ride for the feeling of the truest deepest, freedom that I can feel in the world. I work hard to provide for my family and take care of my children. I’m always there, at the band concerts, dance recitals, coaching basketball, parent nights at school as well as working myself ragged trying to make sure we’re all provided for. When I get on a bike, the first breath I take when I’m rolling down the open road feels more full than any I had taken that day.
It is an escape for me. I am completely focused on where I am and what I’m doing. When I’m on a motorcycle, I am constantly checking my mirrors, adjusting my stance and my position on the road. I am hyper aware of everything around me and there is nothing else but the here and now and the immediate future. It’s freeing in a way that is near impossible to describe to someone that hasn’t experienced the curves and speed that two wheels can amplify.
Over the past few years I’ve been pushing myself to live in a more constant zen state with my machines. I have done this with the hope that it will no longer be the temporary escape, but a permanent fixation in my day to day. I ride with more purpose these days. I chose my routes, and try to experience different parts of the city that I live in and it’s been an adventure, for sure. With these changes and the desire to have a more meaningful experience, I’ve done almost all of the work on my bikes in the last three years, with the exception of some major maintenance on the brand new bike.
I believe anyone that gets in there and does, even the simplest, work on their machine gains a bond that you might not have experienced before. You take care of your machine, and it takes care of you. From changing the oil, washing it, or lubing the chain to figuring out exactly why your battery keeps dying or your idle is extremely rough at certain RPMs, you are becoming spiritually invested in your ride. You pour your energy and time into it and it takes on a new form in your life. It’s not just two wheels, it becomes so much more. I’m not talking about naming it, I have yet to name any of my bikes, I’m talking about that feeling of pride that you’ll get when you finally figure out that nagging problem that you’ve been working on for six months, or that resolve to not let it go when you’re asked if you’d sell it.
Our bikes eventually become more and more an expression of who we are and what we do. Do you ride a Ruckus? Awesome! A custom chopper? Hell yeah man, I get it. One big thing that I’ve known people to get hung up on is what their bike says about them and how they look on it. I’ve known division between the types of bikes out there as well, from the streets and cruisers to the custom guys and the Canam crews. The divisive nature is natural to us as a social species, but we’re all out there together for the same reason. We feel something that those other people on the roads haven’t experienced. We would stop for anyone that we see in trouble, regardless of what they’re on. That is a truth about being a motorcyclist. We are all together, regardless of who we are, where we come from, or how we choose to feed our addiction.