Last issue you heard me say what I believed it means to be a motorcyclist. In this issue, I’m going to get a bit more specific and tell you what it means to me to be a motorcyclist, being a teenager in the early 70s and growing up through this era. This was a time where every kid had a push bike and we rode them everywhere. To school, to the shops, to your friend’s house and to bed. As a kid what could possibly be better than that? Well, let me tell you what would be better than that, having a bike with a motor in it.
Some of us were lucky enough to have mini bikes, I wasn’t one of them. My best friend had one and for those that don’t know what a mini bike is, it is like a small pushbike with a lawn mower engine attached to it. The first chance I got to have a go, I was throwing my big gangly leg over that seat and it didn’t take me long to learn to ride it. For many of us, riding a motorcycle can be the first real steps we take on the path to manhood. I would say that was true for me and I still remember it like it was yesterday even though it was some 43 years ago.
I’ll never forget my first time on that mini bike. The jubilation, the excitement, the fear all combined into one still hasn’t let go of me. The feeling I had then is the feeling I have now each time I ride a motorcycle, it has never changed since that first day I rode a motorbike. That moment, like so many since, is all just as important as the next one. From that moment on I was hooked.
There were other times too that were very significant and secured the whole deal. One very important defining moment in my evolution to biker and manhood was the first time I rode over 160Kmph (100 MPH), which happened even before I had a motorcycle license.
It was spring in a small outback Australian town in 1980’s on a friend’s Suzuki GT 750. For those that don’t know these bikes, this was a fairly successful 750cc machine launched by Suzuki in the early 50s. This model was fairly successful in off-road events and road racing. This was the first water cooled bike ever made by any motorcycle manufacturer from Japan. They were affectionately known as a “widow maker” due to the terrible death wobble they would get at speed, especially in corners. Riding one was like chasing the dragon and riding a bucking bull all at once.
They did reach 160Kmph in a straight line very quickly and at that very first moment I achieved this speed something happened inside me and I’ve never stopped searching for and longing for that sensation ever since. Initially this was just pure lust for a huge adrenalin rush and to some degree may still be but it has morphed into so much more now.
There are many things we seek in this journey called life. We seek love, we seek good times and we humans find these things in some extraordinary places. Those things for me all exist along the road that goes on forever. This same road has seduced me since I was a little boy maybe even before I was born, maybe the seduction of me lies deep in my gene pool, my DNA yearns for and must have travel and adventure.
It’s some subliminal desire to see everything and not miss out on anything. All the things that I yearn for are continually being redefined by me through an ongoing revolving door of never ending experiences. The magic roundabout of life keeps reinventing what we want and gets to accommodate our perceived needs as we seek them out.
Because as it happens in life, our priorities change as our perceptions based on experiences and the past continue to evolve, so then to do our desires, needs and the outcomes for the future. For me though, somehow, it just never stops being always about a road, a track, a path, a highway or a freeway. Or as a good friend of mine constantly refers to it as “the big black conveyor belt to freedom”. Following in the footsteps of my peers and those who inspired me to take this journey along this road was and is something I feel very privileged and proud to be a part of.
I’ve had lots of hours to ponder this over many miles and I think what the real rush on that big black conveyor belt isn’t the speed you reach because the number 100 really doesn’t matter it could be 89 or a 112kmph.
The real thing that I’m chasing is that feeling of freedom. Because, amongst an assortment of many other things, the road provides the number one thing is that sense of freedom.
Like a bird that just got out if it’s cage or the lion that escaped from the zoo, the ability to get on down the road away from the last place on your way to the next known or unknown place installs a sense of not belonging to any one point. This sensation of being not bound to a place, an object or any commitment even but for a second, a moment or a lifetime gives us the sensation of freedom.
That feeling of freedom is one that I cherish and live for every day.
It can come from reading a book and floating away in the moment of the authors words. From soaring through the clouds on your way to another country on a huge airliner or remembering any moment when you experienced the road that never ends.
But the best I’ve found yet that does it for me in leaps and bounds is ripping down a road I’ve never travelled before with men of a kindred spirit as myself, traffic surfing at volatile speed on our way to a new destination and another bike show or party. That’s living the dream.