The Nature of Things


For the last 6 months I have noticed a growing trend of photographs showing up on the internet. These photos show grinning stars perched on or astride bikes. Most of them customs jobs or unique models. In some ways it tickles my fancy, in others it  disappoints me. It is the classic case of 6-of-one and half-a-dozen-of-the-other.

When did biking become ‘fashionable’? When did it become the ‘in’ thing? Most of these notable faces have never ridden a motorcycle until it became the status symbol of the new century.

I never rode to be fashionable or “In”. I got on a bike because it was a benchmark for me. I grew up with 2 brothers who owned and rode bikes. I fell in love with motorcycles sitting on the tank of a 1970’s bike in front of a brother who was taking me a ride around the block. Granted at that time it was probaby only going 5mph. And he probably caught hell from Mom when he got home. And there was no such things as helmet laws.

That started me on a journey. I fell in love with motorcycles not just for what they represented and what they gave to me. I fell in love with the wind in my face, the smell of seasons, bug guts on my clothes, stiff leather in my hands, rumbles that were so deep they seemed timed with the thump of my heart in my chest.

When I was 16 I tried to get my father to co-sign on a loan for my first vehicle. It was a 1980 parrot green 250 Kawasaki. In the dusty back lot of a dealership the salesman put me on a bike, told me to ride around until I got used to it. Even then I recall seeing my Dad and the salesman talking as I fought with the clutch-brake-gas combination. When I finished my short foray around in the dirt, reluctantly I got off the bike and walked to the car with my father. That was when the real lesson started. My father stated that “Young ladies don’t ride motorcycles. Only girls who had loose morals – and no daughter of his would have loose morals.” Pretty straight forward and succinct, don’t you think?

When I was in my 40’s, my husband – who had been a rider for many years before me met, decided it was time to go back to riding because we could finally afford to purchase a bike again. After he bought his bike, I finally whined enough (yes, I admit it – I whine every once in a while), and we became a two bike garage. We have never looked back since.

Enough about my past and lets return to the present. What about those that are now ‘just getting it’? Although I am sure quite a few will eventually get it, there are still some who I know for certain are using a motorcycle as a status symbol. As a prop to their latest publicity shoot, or a fashion accessory to their latest wardrobe. They truly will not get it. In a way I feel sad for them, but guiltily in a way I feel happy for me because I know I truly would never be able to stomache riding with someone like that.

In the end I guess I just have to flip down the full face, turn my eyes to the horizon and twist the throttle leaving all of this in a distant memory.

Of course, if ever a photo of Justin Beber riding a motorcycle surfaces, you can be fairly certain that I will be traumatized for life and never want to come back off a road trip ever again.