It dawned on me after the umpteenth person decided to provide a public service announcement to my face and inform me that motorcycle riding was dangerous. Not motorcycle racing, just riding in general. A form of transport used by hundreds of millions of people around the world. Instead of arguing with this caring soul, my emotions were that of pity for them. Pity that they actually believed what they were saying and they themselves would never know what I experience on a near daily basis while riding. And then it clicked as I looked into their eyes – I’m a better person than you.
I should probably qualify that I mean by ‘better’. Riding a motorcycle doesn’t turn you into Mother Teresa. Riding a motorcycle doesn’t automatically turn you from a wanker into a saint. What I mean by better is that as a motorcycle rider, I’m better than you because I’m better able to experience what it’s like to be a human being. To feel alive and live, instead of just existing. I’m pushing back from the continual encroachment of rules, regulations and conformity that modern society is moving towards. It’s a one fingered salute to political correctness, conservative values and herd mentality. And it makes be better than you, the non-rider.
There’s a lot of clichés about motorcycle riders and riding. But like stereotypes, clichés are often spoken and applied because they can be an accurate reflection of reality. Comradery, brotherhood, freedom. While those things are nice, what to me is the greatest part of riding a motorcycle is feeling so alive.
But motorcycle riding is dangerous, you say. You’ll get yourself killed, they say. When did we as a society and a culture become so pathetic? Wars rage all over the world, children are recruited into armies, men and women work in dangerous conditions so that you and I can buy the latest crap Apple wants to sell – and you’re scared of riding a bike? Stop being so pathetic and learn to live properly and not in fear.
Fear of terrorism. Fear of Ebola. Fear of whatever the next talking point will be. All those things don’t matter when I’m riding through beautiful mountain scenery, taking in sweeping turn after sweeping turn. I’m pushing back against the expectations of what society deems acceptable, and I’m doing it in a way that hurts no else.
I see other riders doing the amazing, the beautiful. Riding through Egypt, Nepal, the Andes, visiting remote and distance parts of this amazing planet. But instead, you enjoy your cruise on a boat full of self-absorbed people who think learning about and understanding other cultures involves a day trip to their local beach.
Even the worst things of modern life turn into positives on a motorcycle. While you’re stuck in traffic on the freeway doing your daily two hour commute, I’m riding past you between your car and every other person who feels the need to drive a five occupant vehicle with just themselves to their daily grind. Yes, traffic actually becomes a positive on a bike and I get no greater satisfaction then when a ‘cager’ tries to block my path while filtering, as I just manoeuvre around them on the opposite side of their car. I pity you, but only a little, because it’s your choice to be in the situation that you are, and that’s why I’m better than you.
You hate your vacation trip in the car because of all the sharp turns and bends and undulations of the road. I pass you exiting a hairpin and feel the wind rushing me, the smell of the trees and the sounds of life and enjoy the journey just as much as the destination. Cliché, but so true.
You might think I sound egotistical, but I’m not. You can be better too, it’s not difficult. But for every person I encounter who looks down on me for riding a bike, I can’t help but grin and say to myself, I ride a motorcycle and therefore I’m better than you.