Click here for Home
GOING THE DISTANCE
When we're born, we make our debut appearances in this world alone. From the birth canal, we burst upon the scene, all by our lonesome.
When we get our first motorcycles, we are initiated on our bikes alone. From the pedestrian world of balancing on two feet, we make our way onto two wheels with an emotional and ebullient splash.
Being born as bikers when we arrive on our first bikes, is a fitting metaphor for the beginning of the cycle of life. It's only later that all of the peripherals of the trip are installed on the hard drive of the bike. One of those peripherals is the addition of another person on the motorcycle. Motorcycles are often referred to as "chick magnets" and so they are. What to do then, after one gets the girl?
I've got the girl now, and nine out of ten times these days, I'll ride my Harley 74 alone. Rarely do I pack Patty on the back. This isn't by design. This is, as I perceive it----an evolution of the biker species. Perhaps that should be "devolution" as it represents a reversion to the original form. The original form is that we arrive alone on our bikes, as we arrive in this world alone when we're born. As I see it, there's nothing wrong or right about riding alone. Certainly, it's easier physically. It is so much easier to throw the bike around without more ballast over the rear wheel. The balance of the bike just seems right when rockin' your world solo.
Also, we don't want to scare the better halves when we feel like opening 'er up on the highway all of sudden, while doing 80 per. All around, riding is just a less self-conscious act when on the bike alone. Reflexes react normally to the ebb and flow of the interactions with the vagaries of the road. Undulations on the road surface that make your bike go airborne are less worrisome---we don't have to worry about our old ladies falling off when we ride alone.
"Thank you for flying Harley-Davidson. We hope you have a pleasant stay at your destination. Come back and fly Harley-Davidson again."
It wasn't always this way. There was a time before our wreck in 1994 when Patty was on the bike a good part of the time. However, there was a subtle change after our wreck. I perceive this subtle shift in mentality during the immediate aftermath of the wreck, which may have been subconscious, as a protective instinct on my part toward Patty. When that left-turning SUV hit us 16 years ago, I wasn't the only one who suffered injury. Patty had injuries that required surgery, too. My protective feelings have waned with the passage of time---I don't actively worry about Patty when she rides with me now. Our riding pattern has just evolved to what it is now.
My current solo-riding pattern is what it is, an evolution of the species as I said. It no longer reflects any residual protective feelings. It is natural to experience these feelings after getting into a wreck with your old lady on the bike. The 'ole tincture of time heals those abrasions.
Logically, motorcycling is a solitary activity anyway. Ideally motorcycles are intended for one person. Two-up riding is just a occasional bonus, as I see it. More social-minded bikers may feel differently. They have to have their old ladies along for the ride because attending rallies is the ultimate meeting of the Mutual Admiration Society of Insecure Biker Lites. I however, am not subject to this particular affliction. I hate being around crowds of riders. Daytona? I'd rather have root canal. Sturgis? Ya gotta be kiddin' me. I don't even like riding with another biker, let alone hundreds of others. I also believe that the sight of a thousand Biker Lites wearing identical leather vests festooned with 20 pounds of pins and badges each, might make my retinas detach. It's the motorcycle, stupid---not clowns who preen and profile for the bros. Can you say "ego-gratification?"
Socializing on a bike, is as incongruous to me as socializing and shooting with other photographers. To my loner mind, motorcycle riding and photography, are solitary pursuits.
Did you know that when David Snow left Iron Horse he was considering starting a magazine that he wanted to title "Loner?" Snow desperately wanted autonomy over his magazine, free from the constraints and skullduggery imposed by the suits. A Loner Magazine would have been imbued with the spirit of individualism, divorced from the shackles of management pressure.
Here's an interesting memory about something David said to me after my wreck on my righteous and loyal shovelhead, Mabel. He said....
"They say that after ya wreck on a bike, you have to get rid of that bike and get another one..."
You know when people use the ubiquitous "they say", they're really talkin' about themselves and their own intractably embedded belief system.
He said it with a jocular tone, but I think he truly believed in this. This reminds me of my thoughts after hearing about Snow's wreck on his F.U. Chop in Arkansas.
For those of you who aren't familiar with what happened, a truck cut Snow off when he was riding his Rosabilt S & S powered chopper, and Snow and his bike ended up in a ditch full of mud. Snow sold his bike after that. Did a superstition precipitate his selling of the bike?
I don't know. I do know though, that if the situation involved my bike Mabel, I would've gotten her fixed up like new after landing in mud, no matter what it cost. Snow did state after his mud incident, that he couldn't face rebuilding the F.U Chop again. I guess that he'd had it with that bike, for whatever reasons. I still say that his Rebelene (his Wide Glide) was his best Harley.
On the Memorial Day weekend, Patty and I were in Mabel's (my Harley shovelhead) parking lot. Patty's Ford F-150 truck also resides inside the lot's fenced-in confines. Patty was cleaning and waxing Amy (her truck---we name all of our vehicles). I uncovered my bike and placed the cover in the truck, got my helmet out from the truck's passenger compartment. I said to Patty, "See ya in while, Hon..." I started Mabel up, got her motor running, and got out on the highway. We arrive alone in this world. Later.