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Why We Ride:
The Joy of Motorcycling
By Stephen M. John

What is the allure of motorcycling? One lifelong devotee attempts to explain the inexplicable . . .

What attracts people to motorcycling? When faced with the numerous personalities of both riders and motorcycles, there may not be a single answer. Despite the differences between touring rider and hill climber, chrome-encrusted cruiser and nimble Grand Prix race bike, there are some universal attributes that get under the skin of the motorcyclist and feed the desire to ride.

Freedom is often cited as an attraction, but what does this mean? Compared to driving a car, riding a motorcycle offers freedom from the constraints of four-wheeled physics. When a car negotiates a turn, it leans to the outside of a corner, struggling to maintain its former direction of travel. A motorcycle leans into a corner.

This may not sound like much, but until you've experienced both you can't understand the superior grace and simplicity of this mode of travel. Cornering becomes a symphony of precise movements instead of an awkward wallow, working in harmony with the road instead of fighting it tooth and nail.

The Sense(s) of Freedom
Once freed of your steel cage you are thrust into the world to experience a broader existence unfettered by HEPA filters and climate control. Your nose will get a vivid introduction to skunk roadkill and diesel exhaust, but will also revel in bread baking and plants blooming. Your body will feel the thousand tiny impacts of raindrops and absorb the buffeting of the wind. Your skin will feel the gently warming temperature as you crest a hill and drop to the valley floor below. You are no longer huddled behind a wheel disconnected from nature. It's Lawrence of Arabia in Cinerama versus a daguerreotype of a camel.

Wrap all of this freedom in a lovely ribbon of performance, and you get what experts call fun. Not the fake hood scoop, chrome wheels and racing stripe school of performance. Picture instead a carrier launch and you'll be in the right neighborhood, and you don't even have to pledge seven years of service. Best of all, this astounding performance is dirt cheap. For less than half the cost of most commuter pods you can buy a stock motorcycle capable of 9-second quarter miles.

Don't bother figuring the cost for a production car with matching performance, because you won't find one. AMG teamed with Mercedes to make the CLK-GTR capable of a 9.4 second quarter mile, and it's a steal at a measly $1,000,000. Performance cars do have the edge in aerodynamics and top speed, but to use them you'll need lottery winnings and the Autobahn.

All of this freedom and fun doesn't come without a price. First of all, you have to learn how to ride. Given the right training and the right attitude, the skills can be acquired by just about anyone. Want proof? One of my first forays was on my dad's 1975 Honda CB125S, a ride so mild it's hard to believe it could burn gasoline. I was so overwhelmed I couldn't remember how to stop, and ended up using a conveniently located pickup to do the job. Fortunately the Motorcycle Safety Foundation ( http://www.msf-usa.org ) runs well-organized classes where you can safely learn motorcycling in a pickup-free environment.

Motorcycles? Practical?
What about practicality? Over the years I've carried a turkey, two-by-fours, a dozen roses, crutches and a bookcase on a motorcycle, but even I haven't tried transporting an infant or a major appliance. But how often do you really use the cargo capacity of a four-wheeler? Not often, judging by the throngs of single-occupant vehicles choking the roadway, wasting gas and time hauling around a sluggish, three-quarter-empty steel box.

Finally, there's the favorite of mothers and fathers everywhere: danger. On a motorcycle you are more vulnerable and you'd better accept that fact and ride accordingly. I always ride as if I am invisible to the sea of cars around me, because all too often it's true. I wear a helmet, jacket, boots and gloves regardless of the temperature or length of the ride. You might think it's a hassle just to reach the corner store, and it does take more time than slipping on a seat belt. For me it is an important ritual, a reminder I am about to engage in an activity with a fair amount of personal risk. Donning my helmet triggers a pre-recorded message telling me I better be alert if I don't want to end up as a hood ornament.

Risk is inherent in motorcycling, but it can be managed and turned into an advantage, one that I think is the real long-term attraction of riding. A new rider must first gain experience, since at first everything you have is spent just keeping upright. Gradually shifting gears and scanning for Dozy Joe Auto blowing through a stop sign takes less effort, as your brain adjusts to a new sensory plateau.

Engaging the World Around You
While motorcycling you are still fully engaged with the outside world, but the rest of your brain is free to explore paths otherwise unavailable. With your mind free of rigid supervision and self-awareness, all sorts of problems get solved in the background and tension evaporates. Exactly the opposite happens in an automobile. Driving makes so few demands on our minds and bodies we go on autopilot. How many times have you driven to a familiar location, and arrived only to realize you don't remember large parts of the journey?

Need another rationalization regarding the two-wheeled wonder? Motorcycling is a resounding social plus: reduced traffic and parking congestion, better fuel economy and fewer noxious emissions. Motorcycle ownership should be a Green party litmus test. Sadly, these benefits are lost on the majority of Americans, whose opinion of motorcycles seems to have been forged solely by watching Marlon Brando tear up a small town in The Wild One. This shared sense of being outcast and knowledge of how much fun we're having leads to a sense of community among riders. Have you ever seen two automobile drivers wave to each other because they were driving? For me, waving to a fellow rider is nearly a daily occurrence. The horror, the horror.

Freedom. Fun. A clear mind and a clear conscience. These are all powerful reasons for staying in the saddle. But an even simpler truth about motorcycling keeps me coming back for more: I always feel better after a ride than I did before.
 

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I think the element of danger is also attractive, doing something that is inherently risky makes you appreciate you are alive. It isn't just motorcycling..look at the growth of skydiving, bungee jumping and scuba diving. We are so protected and coseted (sp?) in our world with warning labels telling us our coffee is hot, our cold medication will make us drowsy..we need to break away from all this "mothering".
 

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Freedom is often cited as an attraction, but what does this mean?
This mean's to me. When I ride my ZX12R down the road in my county. I know for a fact that the cop's can't touch me or any other car, bike, helicopter, small aircraft, can stay with me.

The feeling going down the road and knowing your sitting on the fastest street legal 9sec 1/4 mile bike in the county.

It make's you feel like Superman. But without the cape.

WOT in frist and the front wheel lift's off ever so gently slam 2nd and the wind buffet's your helmet the tach is climbing faster than you can shift. You hit third glance at speedo and triple digit's are there.

You decide today I'm going though all 6 gear's at redline, You hit 4th and redline and the buffeting of your helmet make's it hard to read tach. Then you glance at speedo going to 5th and 180mph, But you realize your probably doing 170, Speedo error.

Then you hit 6th and you hang on for all you have and hope like hell there's no groundhog's going to run in front of you. you hit rev limiter in 6th and come back down to earth gently coasting and taking a deep breath. And think of how great it is to be Superman for less than a minute. :) And also realize that if caught your freedom is gone and maybe your job, bike, and way of life.

Is it worth it. Damm stright pilgram. As John Wayne would have said"

I say" It's the closest I'll ever come to being launced from a pad at the Cape
 

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Maybe this doesn't belong in the "daily rider" forum, but the title caught my eye...

The reason I ride is to beat my other friends who ride. Unfortunately, my friends usually beat me, as they are some of the fastest in the U.S., and I'm...well...not NEARLY the fastest in the U.S! But it's still really fun to try! My main goal is not to get lapped by my buddies. Sometimes they slap the back of my helmet as they pass me...I think this is encouragement. Am I right?

(Vincent-thanks for the "encouragement" at Mid-Ohio. I really appreciated that...YOU BASTARD! I'll get you back on Halloween, bitch!)
 

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Zen

I think part of the attraction comes from doing something that requires a greater level of mental, physical and emotional committment than cars.

It takes a special kind of person to ride. Just about anyone can be taught to drive a car, especially with automatic transmissions, ABS and electronic stability control systems. But we all know people who are perfectly good drivers who cannot get the hang of riding a motorcycle.

It's the lazy man's zen. It takes Buddhist monks years of meditation and training to achieve the level of focus a sportbike rider gets when the tach needle swings past 8,000.;)
 

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It's what makes me smile.
Plain and simple.
Before a ride, after a ride, during a ride.
With my friends or alone.
Even when sitting indoors staring at a computer screen.
I can still hear the sweet sounds and remember the sights & smells.
:D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D:D :D :D
 

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Good post! because sometimes it's really hard to express how you feel before, during and after the ride like someone pointed out. For me, I can describe it this way:

(Before my ride)
It's the Super Bowl, 10 minutes before the kick off, and I'm in the locker room with all my team mates, pre games focus.

(During my ride)
Time run out. Their quarterback throws the ball for the final touch down pass, but at their 1 yard line I get an interception, and I'm running the other way for the touch down. Chasing behind me is the meanest, biggest and the scariest dudes, trying to kill me. I'm not a fast runner so they are within their arm reach, but I’m just fast enough that they can't really tackle me, however, I do feel someone pulling on my jersey but I manage to pull away, I can even hear and feel these animals falling right behind my foot. I run almost a full 100 yards. When I’m within 4 yard line, I dive for the end zone, (Matrix style in slow motion) and we win the Super Bowl!

(After the ride)
I just lay there in the end zone motionless, I ran out of breath and I can't talk. My eyes water and my heart rate is 180 over 120. Someone throws oxygen mask over my face. Ahhhhhh! feels good. They throw me unto the stretcher and proceed to carry me out of the field. The whole stadium is up in roar and chant my name. " Coolaid! Coolaid! Walking next to my stretcher is two of the finest looking babes, holding my hands one on each side. One babe leans down and whisper something in my ear " wait till we get you home Coolaid" I smile.

Reality check! Wishful thinking Dude! but that is how I describe what riding is like for me. :D
 

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SloBrit said:
I think the element of danger is also attractive, doing something that is inherently risky makes you appreciate you are alive. It isn't just motorcycling..look at the growth of skydiving, bungee jumping and scuba diving. We are so protected and coseted (sp?) in our world with warning labels telling us our coffee is hot, our cold medication will make us drowsy..we need to break away from all this "mothering".
How true. Hence the reason I went skdyiving and why I'm planning so many things for next summer. Those things make you want to live to do more of them. :D
 

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for the ride itself

I ride because I have to. I simply dont have a choice. Its not an addiction, its a passion. At a certain point you become so in tune with your ride that it becomes an extension of yourself. No seperation between man and machine. Almost as if you are looking through the headlight. You are just roaring down the road, slicing through the asphalt like a knife through butter. Aware of everything around you. Its like a ballet in my head. Graceful is an understatement. Its not about where you are going or where you have been. Doesnt matter. The only thing that is important is that you are going.

Ask me what I love about motorcycles and I will tell you everything. The smell of the exhaust. The sound of the motor. The infinite amount of time and care spent polishing and maintaining them. Having someone look at you through their cage as your breath rolls out from under your helmet on those mornings when you say to yourself, its going up to 40 today, I can ride. And then knowing that they are looking at you thinking that you arent wrapped real tight. Its cracking the throttle and powering through the gears. Its knowing that you can count on the people you ride with and that they can count on you. Its getting to that one perfect place where no matter what else is going in your life, you have peace for that moment. You could say you get lost in the ride.

Riding means something different to everyone though.

Why do I ride? For the ride itself.
 

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I ride because my bike makes me. I have no say so in the matter.

Honestly. It's the closest thing to flying on th e ground. There have been times approaching a hill, that it seems like if I speed up just a bit more, I can launch into the sky. It's euphoric.
 

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xlh883

My thoughts exactly.

Especially the part about knowing you can count on the people you ride with.

It is the people that also ride that add so very much to the motorcycling experience.

Once again, very well stated.
 

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I started when I was a kid cuz of thrill..

Now it is for that and for all of the friends that I have made and can count on for just about anything...

Theres one thing about ryders.. Everone seems to be like family!!!

Its a really kick a$$ benefit....

and sometimes the B-dubs areb't so bad!!!!
 

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Re: for the ride itself

xlh883 said:
Ask me what I love about motorcycles and I will tell you everything. The smell of the exhaust. The sound of the motor. The infinite amount of time and care spent polishing and maintaining them. Having someone look at you through their cage as your breath rolls out from under your helmet on those mornings when you say to yourself, its going up to 40 today, I can ride. And then knowing that they are looking at you thinking that you arent wrapped real tight. Its cracking the throttle and powering through the gears. Its knowing that you can count on the people you ride with and that they can count on you. Its getting to that one perfect place where no matter what else is going in your life, you have peace for that moment. You could say you get lost in the ride.

Riding means something different to everyone though.

Why do I ride? For the ride itself.


:thumb: Awesome, was worth posting / reading again!!! :D :cool:
 

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Why?

Fantastic descriptions in these posts! Loved the "looking through the headlight" one!

Motorcycles have never failed to allow me to become much more than a mere mortal human being. While riding I become the machine and the road and the wind and the traffic and the smells. No longer am I a tiny human dot lost in a sea of people but I am the whole of the moment.

Sheeesh! No wonder I'm addicted to my motorcycle!
 

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I ride 'cause it's relaxing, fun, intense, and it's the most fun you can have with your clothes on! :D

Jim
'02 RC51
'99 Nighthawk 750
 

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Re: for the ride itself

Xlh883, I agree with you totally, motorcycle riding does tend to put you in a different state of mind, when everything is going right and you get in that "grove" it's an almost out of body experience. In this state, I feel as if I'm floating through time and space but still aware of everything.

This addiction is a way-of-life. It's the journey that counts not the destination.

Live to ride,

Marc



xlh883 said:
I ride because I have to. I simply dont have a choice. Its not an addiction, its a passion. At a certain point you become so in tune with your ride that it becomes an extension of yourself. No seperation between man and machine. Almost as if you are looking through the headlight. ...Riding means something different to everyone though. ...

Why do I ride? For the ride itself.
 

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The Ride

Now, I don't ride yet, but if it's anything like the way I feel when I'm surfing, then, God, I can't wait. Just feeling one with the wave is the greatest feeling. And from what you guys said, it's amazing on a motorcycle. Thanks for all the input. Grade A!

Erik
 

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Another horse in the barn

I was hoping I didnt get a little too intense before. Sometimes once i get started talking about bikes its hard to stop. If i try to explain how I feel to someone that has never ridden or just cant get in the groove with their bike, then they dont know at all what im talking about. Usually they just look at me like Im pretty wierd then, so I stopped trying to explain it to most people that would ask. Its nice to have a place where you are understood.

I havent had alot of time to post lately, I picked up another horse and am in process of stripping it down completely. With any luck, it will be back on the road by the end of summer. This is the second bike that I am completely taking apart and redoing. If you liked motorcycling before, wait until you have taken one from the ground up. When you see her going back together, its a truly awesome site.

Erik, good luck with getting a bike. I cant tell you if its anything like surfing cause we dont get to do that here in PA, but thats something I have always wanted to try. There are alot of good tips floating around in the new rider section if you havent already checked it out.
 
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