Sunday, April 28, 2013

Editorial: Why I Ride

The Ninja 650R, my first motorcycle decked out for touring.
Living life on two-wheels is oft considered a perilous venture. More than a few close friends and relatives have questioned my decision to ride a motorcycle, but from an early age, I knew that this was something that I wanted to do. To have the opportunity to experience the world in such an up close and intimate manner, unadulterated by the filter of glass, steel, and plastic of a car. The freedom and exposure that make a motorcycle so dangerous, are also the very traits that make the experience appeal to me so much.

The desire to ride was really ignited by the first time I watched Top Gun as a child. Back then, I had a fascination for jets that rivaled my fascination for cars and that movie definitely glamorized the fighter pilot lifestyle. Of course, that iconic scene where Tom Cruise, riding a Kawasaki Ninja, races alongside the runway as an F-14 Tomcat blasts into the sky imprinted itself indelibly in my mind. That one iconic movie moment sparked the tiny flame that I nourished for two decades, until I had the time, funds, and freedom to pursue it.

That iconic scene from Top Gun
When I finally was able to learn to ride, I found that my adolescent musings were quickly replaced by something entirely different. What I discovered was that the actual act of riding required so much attention, that pushed all other thoughts out of my mind. The sensation was so liberating, that it quickly became my go-to activity whenever I wanted to clear my mind of my troubles. After a long day at work or when things become complicated at home or when I just need a chance to refocus my thoughts, I look for the opportunity to fire up my bike.

My current bike, the BMW K1200S
Once I am on the road, my eyes are scanning my surroundings, assessing potential threats; my mind is racing to process all of the inputs from the bar, the seat, the tires, and the motor and respond with appropriate lane position, body position, throttle position, and brakes. If my mind is focused, then everything falls into place and the choreography of riding results in a rewarding ride that leaves me refreshed mentally, if a bit worn physically.

But everyone rides for their own reasons and sometimes those reasons change over time as people go through different stages in their lives. I hope to be able to continue to ride so long as I am physically able to do so safely. As my life circumstances have changed, I find myself adapting my bike, as well as my riding style, to suit the circumstances. However, my motivation remains the same and I continue to enjoy every moment I spend on two wheels.

Do you ride? Do you want to learn to ride? Share with us in the comments what motivates you.