Lately with the excessive work load and cold weather I haven’t done much riding. It’s interesting how your mind begins wandering back to riding when your too busy to do so or the weather doesn’t permit. It was too cold to do any riding and I began reflecting and throwing ideas at Margaret as to why we ride.
Everyone has different reasons for riding. Some are superficial, some are out of necessity. Necessity for me is a difficult reason though. I’ve talked to some people that choose to use their bike as their only form of transportation. To me it’s not practical. When thunderstorms come in or freezing weather hits riding a bike is nothing but misery. That “Joy of Riding” concept will fade really quickly when the hail balls starting banging into your head, been there done that. Grocery shopping, equipment hauling, building materials, stuff like this could get difficult if not impossible on a bike. But, if the bikes only used to get you from point A to point B then it could work out. It’s not my thing though.
I hear and see ads about the “Freedom” of riding and that’s another reason people say they ride. Who came up with the idea that a person is more free if they are riding? Most likely advertising firms that understand how to publish lies and sell to the weak minded. There is no declaration in our constitution that riding a motorcycle makes you free. If I am driving a car am I less free than being on a motorcycle? Riding a street bike actually keeps me from being able to drive to some areas which makes me less free. If I had a 4×4, say a Jeep, I would be more free since I could go off road into areas my Harley could never take me. I could drive down dirt roads, across streams, in the mud, sand dunes, through forests, grassy pastures, and mountainous terrain. My Harley could never take me to these places unless there was a somewhat decent road to ride down. So the idea of whatever definition of “Freedom” they (whoever these mysterious they people are) are trying to push on our mentality really goes out the door when you get down to an analytic perspective of it. In many ways I am less free when riding, being subject to weather, terrain, comfort, storage capacity, and road system.
Some riders say, “Riding’s in the blood”. Huh. Well, ok. Possibly. Though I am not a biologist I have yet to hear of a blood cell or DNA strand linked to riding. And if there is, are there different DNA sequences that cause someone to prefer Harley’s over Honda’s? Is there is a blood cell that causes someone to ride supercross vs. sportbike racing? I used to compete in motocross and then moved into cruisers and touring bikes so maybe my blood contains a mutated cell of riding types. Margaret had never ridden in her life until 2013, so I wonder if she developed or grew a new riding DNA strand. Non of her family ever rode so this cryptic riding blood cell couldn’t possibly have been passed on to her. I just don’t know about this “Riding’s in the blood” concept. It just doesn’t seem to play out logically.
Another common explanation for riding is fuel savings. Wow! Really? Some of the Harley Sportsters get over 60 mpg. That’s really good and if your truly riding just to save money on fuel then yeah that works out. You can get new Harley Sportsters for around 8k so the price of the bike is even reasonable if you combine bike cost and fuel savings together. However, once you begin moving up the chain into larger engines that mileage and bike cost begin to change dramatically. Let’s take my Street Glide as an example. Its a 20k bike and gets about 43 mpg on the highway. I could buy a 2014 Ford focus as an example which is about 18k and gets 36 mpg highway. The car is less, mileage is a bit less so it would play out to about the same cost over a 5 year period of time. And you would have the comfort of a car for those bad weather situations I talked about earlier. You can get Harley’s at all ranges of price but the engine size will be a huge determination on your fuel usage. Insurance is also a bit higher on bikes and maintenance and repairs are without a doubt higher. An oil change on my Harley costs $85 where as my truck only costs $25. I use synthetic in both and do it myself. Sorry to say it, but for most cases your not going to save any money riding a bike.
Mid life crisis is another reason people ride. These riders wont admit to their problem though. At some point they made a knee-jerk reaction that they had to start riding a motorcycle. It’s funny, you can spot them pretty easily. They walk into the dealership, buy the most expensive bike they can find even though they have no clue as to how the bike rides or what riding style they have. They pile a truckload of the seasonal line of gear on the apparel counter and become “Insta-Biker”. Most of them not even knowing why they are buying some of the gear they think they need. Before the bike even leaves the dealership it resides in service with a few thousand dollars of upgrades the purchaser thinks they have to have even though they don’t know why. And most of the added accessories and labor are rolled into the financing which means now their paying interest on those parts when they could have ridden the bike for awhile and added parts as they found they needed them and just paid cash. Depending on the depth of the “Crisis” the bike will be up for sale within a year or it will sit in the garage under a bike cover. Once a month they will push it into the driveway, wash it, start it, gear up with all of that stuff they bought and never wear, drive to the neighborhood 7-eleven and back, roll it back into the garage, pull the cover over it and gloat to all of their friends on Monday about their awesome weekend bike trip. Some of the more adventurous ones will buy little decorative parts like bolt covers and play Barbie Bike Dressup during their monthly downtime and pound their chest about being motorcycle mechanics and bike customization professionals. I feel sorry for these bikes suffering in their depression of never knowing the open road. These bikes live a fortunate existence if they happen to see 1k miles over the course of a year. I hesitate to add these people into the reason people ride list but since they did purchase the bike with the intention of riding and will ride around the block every couple months it needs to be mentioned.
The weekend excursion is another reason people ride. My wife falls into this group. These are people who for whatever reason have taken to riding, love the feel of the bike and the road, and enjoy spending time outdoors. Most weekend riders will take every opportunity they can to enjoy riding on their time off. They won’t go a week if possible without taking at least a short lunch or dinner ride even if the weather is not perfect. Most of them enjoy scouring maps and destination locations during the week for a new scenic route or place to visit. Riding is their hobby. The smells, temperature, sights, food, events, all become part of the reason they ride. The thrill of rolling on the throttle and feeling the bike roar, slowly cruising down little farm and market roads, and finding twisty curves to lean and weave along. The stories from their rides are ever present and interesting providing hours of socialization topics for years to come. This is probably the largest group of why people ride.
Lastly there are the people that ride almost all the time. They use their bikes for work and play. There are varying levels of this rider but all of them ride beyond just recreation. These riders love riding to the point that their bike takes them wherever they go. There is something different about this group. Almost a commitment that not riding is a last resort. Often they will feel guilty if they drive instead of riding on occasion. They are amateur meteorologists, always knowing riding weather conditions so they can be sure to squeeze in that ride between inclement weather. They ride when its cold, hot, wet, and humid. Some may or may not ride in snow and rain but all of them will at least attempt the ride unless its a downright thunderstorm. Many of them watch the animated weather maps to see if its possible to make it to where ever it is they are heading to without getting caught in a bad weather situation. They ride on the open road and in the worst congested traffic conditions that can be dished out. These riders are the ones who show up somewhere and if they are not on their bike people begin asking questions as to whats wrong. Riding for this group is a life style, an addiction they cannot and will not give up.
There are probably more categories that could be added to the post. We could even expound and break each topic into subtopics if we wanted to try and fit every reason into a slot. These are reasons I have seen or heard people talk about and thought it would be fun to write about. Until next time! Ride Strong, Ride Safe!