November 7th, 2006


why do you ride?

Great special feature in the November Motorcyclist magazine called "Why We Ride." Basically just a bunch of quotations from people about why they ride motorcycles. This got me thinking, especially as I found myself saying, "Yeah, that's right! Me, too."

For me, scootering is pretty much the same thing as motorcycling - at least around town. If given the choice, even on a rainy, snowy, cold, foggy, dark, or otherwise miserable day, I will ride a two-wheeler. I rode year-round in Seattle, from Capitol Hill to the Microsoft campus; here, I ride even through 8" of snow.

Yesterday I read an article - in a car magazine - by Greg Egan, the moto- and cycle-journalist, which described why he chose to ride a motorcycle to deliver automobile parts to get chromed (a bumper!) rather than tossing them into the trunk of his car. One of his reasons was simply fuel-efficiency, but he had a lot more.

Why? Why do we choose this less-comfortable, dangerous, less-practical form of transportation? A lot of times, I can't answer that except to say, "Because I want to." But let's examine this for a moment, shall we?

Here are three reasons why I ride:

1. I love the sense of freedom that only comes from being in the world, surrounded by it, feeling it whoosh past my skin, hearing it and smelling it and tasting it; the scents of gasoline and grass and leaves; the sweet and bitter and dry tastes of the air as it rushes through my helmet and over my lips; the closeness of the world, even the road, as I move through it. Freedom is one.

2. Simplicity and convenience is another. This might seem odd to those of you who ride, because there's that preparation stage before a ride: finding the gear, squeezing into helmet and gloves and jacket and so forth, and if it's cold, extra gear to keep your neck from freezing solid. But I love that I can ride anywhere, park right beside the doors of my destination; that all I need to focus on is the ride itself, because if I'm distracted by the millions of things that are on my mind while I'm riding, I will perish. Riding keeps me focused on one thing: the moment, something that I often find challenging to do. It keeps me sane.

3. Finally, at the end of a ride, I feel a sense of survival that I simply don't feel after most activities. How often can we experience that in our modern world? How often would we want to experience that? When I get onto a two-wheeler and roll into the pachinko machine that is the road system, I'm acutely aware of danger lurking around every blind corner, at every intersection, with every cell-phone-talking SUV driver's erratic decision. I seriously doubt that I will die or get seriously hurt when I head out, but it's a distinct possibility.

This last one enhances my sense of freedom, because I'm choosing to do this, even though it puts me in harm's way, in order to feel free. It focuses my mind like little else can, and it's deeply satisfying to know that you survived three near-death experiences due to quick thinking or good reflexes or wise instinct.

In short: Riding makes me feel alive.

I have a thousand more reasons why I ride, but I want to hear yours. If you ride - or just like to get rides on - a motorcycle, why do you do it?

Vote hippie!

I voted!

And it felt good, mostly... I miss The Stranger's Voting Cheat Sheet. I mean, did anyone locally get one of those Voter's Guides? I didn't, and there were lots of things I couldn't cast a vote for, dammit. I mean, who the hell are those judges, and should they be retained or not? Political appointees, perhaps, but by whom? None of them have an R or D or L next to them, so they act as if they're non-political, but we all know how the current Republican regime has been running a national campaign to install activist judges favorable to their causes.

So, irritating, but at least I got to vote for the politicians.

Get out there, and don't get surprised by your ignorance as I did: Find those voter's guides!

PS: I got a political call on my cell-phone from 866-849-3243 for some attorney general or something, maybe named Larry? I don't answer my phone during the day ($0.40 a minute) unless I know the person and am near my phone, so I waited to hear the message. How the hell did they get my cell number? It's not listed! And it's on the Do Not Call list. I wonder if political parties are allowed access to the DNCL and use it to call people.