the next few weeks we're going to run a series of features
examining why on earth we take our lives in our hands and go out
riding motorbikes. It's a difficult subject and one that obviously
sits very close to our hearts. Being different people, we have different
reasons. Not always easily worded ones, either.
As editor I get the dubious privilege
of going first. So here's my attempt...
me, motorcycling isn’t just a way of transport, it’s
a way of life. That doesn’t mean that I’m an outlaw
biker, dedicated only to feeling the wind in my hair and the flies
in my teeth or indeed that I have no other interests in life. Neither,
in fact, could be much further from the truth. But the real story
is that, having tried a brief period bike free (while in the new
and all encompassing early stages of a relationship), I came across
an inescapable truth. I am a biker. Giving up riding meant giving
up an essential part of myself, and that simply wasn’t possible.
I’d look at a bike going past and feel not jealousy, just
a hollow longing for something I was denying myself. So I went back
to biking on the quiet for a while before (inevitably) getting caught
out and re-entering the world of biking officially. She still doesn’t
like it very much but 15 years later I guess we’ve learned
to compromise a little.
But what’s it all about? I know that I never feel more alive
than I do on a bike or shortly after getting off one. I know that
if I drove or took the train to work then I would get there warm
and dry but it would take me ages to get switched on and ready to
actually do my job, while when I rode in I would be ready to rock
as soon as I got to my desk. I know that even on the crappiest most
miserable day I would get to work grinning, even if it was because
I knew I’d be able to park easily as few others would have
ridden in. On a simple getting to work basis, biking saved me time
and money while being fun as well. If you work in or around any
large town, there’s no better way of getting to and from the
if that all there were to biking then we’d all be on
scooters. Clearly there’s something else. there’s something
which makes us look at the increased risks of getting cold, wet
or hurt and still consider them less important than the benefits.
I’d be lying if I said that the downsides have never featured
in my life. I’ve broken bones and removed skin; I’ve
been so cold that I couldn’t feel my extremities until they
started to thaw out (which really hurt) and I’ve got wet through
too many times to count. And yet, like so many others, I still ride.
Maybe it’s a freedom thing. Certainly on a bike the everyday
hassles of life get left behind – generally you’ve got
no mobile phone so you’re uncontactable. A rare thing in today’s
world. So what about the bikers of 10 or 20 years ago who were probably
unreachable as soon as they left their desks or homes anyway? What
was the appeal to them?
Maybe it’s a control thing. Certainly a biker is more in control
of their destiny than many others. All your inputs are more direct,
the bike gives more feedback than any car and your exposure makes
you far more aware of your environment than you would otherwise
be. And yet you’re far more vulnerable to things outside your
control – especially the actions and errors of other road
what is it that makes otherwise perfectly rational people disregard
the clear risks to their person and continue riding motorbikes,
even after injuries and accidents? In reality, it’s something
that defies description. It’s all the things above and then
some more as well. It’s the sheer thrill of accelerating hard
on a big bike, the satisfaction of getting a series of corners exactly
right, the fantastic feeling of harmony as you and your bike work
perfectly together. It’s the feeling of being part of the
journey, rather than just enduring it, the smells and sights of
the open road, the knowledge that you can go anywhere you want,
when you want. It’s the feeling of schadenfreude as you leave
that impotent queue of car drivers behind, knowing that not only
will you get there before them but you’ll be able to park
for free and you’ll have enjoyed yourself as well. It’s
feeling so alive after a good run, it’s the shaking, laughing
recounting of the day’s close escapes, it’s the babbling
incoherence of your first trackday, it’s the terrifying screech
as you get your knee down for the first time, it’s picking
yourself up off the ground and realising that yes, you are still
here although the bike looks a little second-hand. It’s all
of these things, and none of them.
So why do I ride?
Because I can’t
imagine anything else...
We’d really love to hear your
reasons for riding, and ideally to share them with everyone else
as well, because we’re trying to understand what makes everyone
tick. So why not let us know?