Why ride a motorcycle? A question often asked by the inexperienced, and a difficult one to answer... Especially after I was almost killed by a drunk driver a decade ago. It became impossible to explain why riding was worth the risk, when reminded of the smear I’d be if that speeding Bronco had been just inches closer.
So I decided I’d never ride again. Why ride a motorcycle? I had no good reasons. At least not any worth dying for.
That is.. Until several years later when Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman filmed their adventure around the world on motorcycles. I was hooked again, especially enamoured by the idea of travelling off road, away from the inebriated, the distracted… the beaten path. But was that reason enough? I had to rationalize risk versus reward with a list of pros and cons. And at the top of the list of cons: “Death.”
Per mile, a person is 40 times more likely to die on a motorcycle than in a car. Any doctor, or EMT, or coroner who has been on the scene of a motorcycle fatality will tell you horror stories.
An old friend once told me that I must not love my family because I risk my life for the pointless, juvenile thrills of riding a motorcycle. He said anybody who rides is either stupid, selfish, or suicidal.
But in his eyes was defeat… and a resignation to comfort and complacency: He wanted adventure and freedom, but he settled for a couch and the gentle, filtered glow of a safe, predictable, pixelated world, all controlled by a few buttons.
I looked away from the mirror that day, ashamed that I’d been so easily chained by fear... but I finally understood why I am compelled to ride a motorcycle.
Because I love life. And I know it’s paradoxical to love life and yet take risks that could end it so quickly. There is risk in motorcycling… and there are risks from sunlight, but does that keep me cowering in the dark?
I love to ride for precisely the same reasons I live my life. To feel, smell, taste, hear, and see... really see, every moment.
To look farther ahead not just to avoid harm, but to breathe in each majestic view and vast expanse. To move past adversity, fight through difficult circumstances, and live more in the moment, even when the world seems to be collapsing all around me. To have the wisdom to turn back when my heart’s not in it, but the guts to keep going when I know it can only get better.
And that doesn’t mean taking unnecessary risks for the thrill of today, but rather to create memories today that make me yearn for all my tomorrows. It’s not to be dangerous, but to be conscious.
To know when to throttle on. To know when to lock the brakes. To get out of the air-conditioned cage, the front-and-side air-bagged norm, the comfort zone with a five star safety rating. To do something I love. Something unique. To go a little faster, to brake a little later. To smile a little wider and lean a little deeper. To focus on what actually matters.
It’s time to unplug. To uproot from the couches and desk chairs, to take our thumbs off the buttons. To start living with your toes inches from the earth, your right hand on the throttle and your left on the clutch... every sense working in concert to embrace that raw, unfiltered, beautiful, sometimes frightening, but always real, always living world around you. It is not enough to only take breaths when you can witness the truly breathtaking.
We get one shot at this life, and there are so many beautiful opportunities to live more fully... Only a fool would throw it away for some temporary thrill or reckless pursuit. Likewise, every minute is precious, and spending life caged in fear, shackled by the mundane... is just as much a travesty.
So when the question invariably comes: “Why would you ever ride a motorcycle?” The coward in us all will try to bury us with fear.. *I don’t want to die*
But now, at the top of my list of, “Why ride a Motorcycle?” “To live a little more.”
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