The following is my entry into the VFRd Forums Essay contest, of which I spoke previously. While I am not at all happy with the result, I submitted it none-the-less. I figured that not submitting something would be a bigger failure than submitting a piece I was less than pleased with.
I sat down a number of times to try and write an essay centering on motorcycles, specifically my VFR. Time and time again, I came up blank. Everything I was thinking was either trite and contrived, or had been said before by others more eloquent than myself. After a good solid moth of racking my brain in vain attempts to stir something up, I finally realized (at the drop dead time no less) that I have nothing to say about motorcycling. I have no earth shattering revelations or insights. I have no tips or tricks, or even good ride stories akin to the “no-shit-there-I-was” stories of lore. I got nothing.
But I also realized that just because I have nothing to say, this doesn’t reduce my enjoyment one bit. I don’t ride to fit in or to belong to a larger group. I don’t ride to be different or to scare little old ladies. I don’t ride for the sense of freedom or the wind in my hair (seriously, I DO wear my helmet). I don’t ride to look cool or to follow a trend. I don’t ride because I saw it on television and wanted to be just like them. I don’t ride because my friends ride. I don’t ride because my family rides. I don’t ride for the adrenaline, and I don’t ride for the speed. I don’t ride to cruise or pose either.
I ride “The Pace” and wear full gear. I ride solo, and never with a pillion. I take calculated risks and never ride over my head. I ride for the whine of the cams and the rubber on the street. I ride for the lean in the corners and the throttle roll-on at a straight. I ride for the scream of the exhaust, and the vibration of the engine. I ride to be alone, where no life distractions will take me from the moment. I ride for the instinct of reaction and the decisiveness of my decision making.
I lost a dear friend who stood as a groomsman in my wedding. He died riding his 1976 BMW R100S somewhere around San Francisco. I didn’t start riding until years after his death. And now, every time I ride out, I think of him. And I ride in a much safer fashion knowing what could happen.
I realized at some point in the past few weeks (as I was working on the above lists) that I can’t really articulate –why- I ride to a point that is clear and understandable for everyone, including me. The difficulty to put in to words the emotion that riding conveys is immeasurable. Only those who ride for themselves can understand what it really means to them. To experience the ride is to know it. I have since come to the understanding that the best I can do to explain why I ride is to tell people:
I ride because it is fun.
Plain and simple. The day it stops being fun, is the day I stop riding. I have no greater need to fulfill than that.
I ride for me and no one else.