The remarkable fact about Motorcycles is that they are an incredible catalyst for relationships. My personal history tells me that Friendships first forged in the wildly diverse cauldron of the Motorcycle Community seem to have an enduring quality.
There exists between riders a camaraderie that breaks through many cultural and social barriers. I’m inclined to speculate that in 2019 this camaraderie is perhaps not quite as strong as it always used to be, however it is undeniably still there.
As I have written about many times, meaningful friendships are an essential component to happy life. What I rapidly learned when I first stated riding , was that despite many warnings, from a paranoid media, and terrified parents, the Motorcycle community does not routinely bite the heads off live Chickens or smash up rural towns in orgies of destruction.
“You Meet The Nicest People On A Honda” some very clever advertising genius wrote in the 1970s, and he wasn’t wrong, but the same is also on a Yamaha or a Triumph and even an MZ….
But there is a problem, and its not an easy one to articulate. A few weeks ago whilst wrestling with a particularly unpleasant Motorcycling Tragedy, I began to seriously reflect on my commitment to riding.
It is an immensely distressing fact, that loss and grief sometimes accompany the act of sharing your life with a Motorcycle, or other Motorcyclists. We all know this, we all understand this, and perhaps this shared understanding of vulnerability, tied to the immensely liberating act of riding a motorcycle forms the backbone of the bond that exists between riders.
I had not even finished school when I first experienced the loss of a friend to two wheels. Richard M. was one of the very few people I used to speak to at school. He was three years older than myself, but he and I got on well. We would regularly meet at break times by the massive school Chimney, and talk about bikes, and music.
Richard died as a result of an accident on his bike. I have visceral memories of the Youth Club on the Wednesday night around a week later. A moments silence was held, before “Problem Child” by AC/DC was blasted out at full volume in his honour.
All of this might not sound particularly joyful, but it is however very relevant. It seems, that for me at least, Tragedy has a cumulative effect, and when repeatedly confronted by the unpleasant prospect of motorcycle catastrophe, it triggered an Existential Crisis in my anxious mind.
There have been so many moments in my riding where such a catastrophe was closer than one would like, and I feel certain that if you speak to any serious motorcyclist their experience would be similar.
But before I get sidetracked, and head down the Rabbit Hole of Nihilism and Pessimism I will pull hard on the brakes. This Quest is not to understand “Why We Ride” That is a whole different journey and probably has as many answers as there are riders. This Quest is a personal quest to find the Joy. To find My Joy….