You don’t buy a motorcycle for transportation, in my opinion. Sure, when you turn your car in at the shop, you might use your bike, but that’s an exception. As a general rule, bikes don’t have enough cargo space, they’re too vulnerable to foul weather, and they’re entirely too expensive. No, you have a car for transportation, and you have a bike because it’s fun.
Cars are boxes, and their occupants (aside from those who live a little and drive convertibles) are very much “inside.” They’re protected from the elements, hidden from the wind, and climate-controlled. At times they’re so stuffy that the gastrological behavior of a passenger in the back seat can ruinously disturb the driver up front. And as far as I’m concerned, drivers are spectators to the scenery and a world that swiftly passes them by. They are simply relocating from point A to point B. What lies between the two goes largely unnoticed.
But then there are the motorcycles. You have the wind in your face, regardless of the speed. You have the 20 degree wind chill (at 60mph) to factor into any weather report. You have bug guts slathered across various areas of your
leathers and motorcycle helmet (or windshield), and perhaps a few on your face. When it rains, you get wet; and when the road is treacherous, you stand a chance of seeing it even more closely – pinned under your bike in a skid. Riding is a real-time interaction with the scenery, the weather, the road, the buffeting wind, and the bike itself – constantly. Whereas drivers occupy the mental wasteland between their starting points and their destinations, riders are always precisely where they need and want to be: riding. Not spectators, but participants.
If I were to close my eyes while riding (and I assure you that I don’t), I would still know where I was. Aside from the freedom and thrill of the riding itself, my favorite aspect is the smell. It changes constantly, and it always tells you
something. One moment it’s a skunk, and the next a cow pasture. Then it’s fresh-cut hay, or the dead leaves of autumn. In the Appalachians it’s wet rocks and moss. In downtown areas it’s the occasional whiff of marijuana, then
exhaust, then asphalt and rubber, then somebody’s grill in the back yard. On Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, it’s a virtual cloud of marijuana, movie theater popcorn, and the distinct aroma of weird. At random intervals along any
road, it’s roadkill. Regardless, it changes with the scenery, and I like it. Drivers miss every bit of this.
When they aren’t punching at their cell phones or wishing they’d reached their destinations, drivers might look about long enough to remember a billboard or a particularly rough section of road. I will remember how an area smelled. Then I will remember that I was on my bike at the time, and then I will remember how much I enjoyed it. It didn’t matter where I was going, or where I came from; it mattered that I enjoyed the ride. Why? Well, it’s easy. I didn’t pass a place; I was in it.