Here in Upstate NY, we have a few months, December through February, when riding is simply not practical. I spend a lot of time thinking about riding and all of the enjoyment I get from simply “going for a ride”.
It’s also a time when I reflect on what makes riding enjoyable. For me, it’s the fact that I can forget about everything that’s going on in life and concentrate on surviving the ride without crashing. It’s amazing how riding a motorcycle focuses your thoughts. The sights and smells, the wind, the rain, the hot and the cold all come together to assault your senses and reinforce the fact that you’re alive.
When you drive a climate controlled car with heat, air-conditioning, windows and a roof, you’re disconnected from the environment and exist in this miniature bubble that separates you from the world in a way that dulls your senses cutting you off from the real world that is just outside your windows. It becomes a the miniature bubble where you feel utterly safe and maybe just a bit too comfortable.
It’s this feeling of safety and security that car drivers cling to when they try to convince you that riding a motorcycle is dangerous. Even though people get injured and die in car crashes, often times people seem to have this feeling in invincibility because they have crumple zones, seat belts and countless airbags to protect them in a crash.
I’ll admit that a crash on a motorcycle is more likely to result in serious injury. However, it doesn’t automatically mean that you’re going to die.
Have we become so risk averse that the mere possibility of injury is worth giving up the thrills and excitement that motorcycling provides? That moment of fear when a car pulls out in front of you and you survive is one of the things that makes life exhilarating. I must admit that I find cheating death to be quite satisfying.
Are we so afraid to get cold or wet that we find it necessary to avoid bad weather at all cost? I can tell you without a doubt that some of the most memorable rides are those that involved some type of hardship. The sunny 75 degree rides are soon forgotten but get caught in a hailstorm once and you’ll remember that for a lifetime.
During the winter, I’m forced drive my truck to work. Motorcycles don’t work well in snow or ice. I end up as one of the mindless drones driving down the road in complete comfort for a few months each year. It’s a sad time for me because I become one of “them” for a while. Oh well, I guess it’s the price I have to pay for living in the Northeast.