As far as I can ascertain, the fewer the number of wheels on a motorised vehicle, the more interesting it is. I like cars, but then again I like windows 8. I’m passionate about neither one, not in any way shape or form; they’re both utilitarian, they’re both comfy, but since when has comfy ever been ground-breaking in anyway (lazyboy chairs aside)?
I learnt to ride two wheels on a friend of the family’s bike. It was a monumental discovery for me, a two wheeled instrument could remain upright when a little forward motion was applied, and the faster you went the steadier it became. Genius. Well not really, it’s a combination of gyroscopic and centripetal forces, but at eight years old, that’s not something I was particularly concerned about. My first bike was a shiny red Raleigh, and it was sublime. Although second hand, I cannot remember a single acquisition since that has stirred such excitement. This bike could go as fast as I wanted it to, and it nearly always went at TOP speed. It had 10 gears too, and meant I could go up to about 80 miles an hour (I seem to remember bragging in the playground the day after I got it). It was amazing, I spent every waking hour that I didn’t spend at school or eating on it, I must’ve covered hundreds of miles in it’s life time.
Years later with my childhood best friend, I found myself excitedly pushing a motorbike down the lane to the fields at the back. His dad acquired a 50CC dirt bike with no breaks or clutch. To start it, two abiding friends had to push you at full speed, followed by a hearty kick up into second gear and you were away. It is like riding a push bike, but you don’t have to pedal. I think that is the main attraction every motorbike rider in the world shares, you don’t have to pedal. It seemed to float above ground that a normal push bike would stumble upon, in hindsight I probably never went above 20 miles an hour, but at the time I was setting land speed records and it was the most incredible feeling.
To this day, as I swing my right leg over the seat of a motorcycle (OCD thing, it’s never my left), and punch down into first gear, I turn into an eight year old boy again, about to embark on the latest around the world (Austhorpe) adventure.
Climbing into a car I can’t help but feel constrained, it’s hard to describe to people who don’t ride. They perceive motorbikes as dangerous, or too cold, or too hot, but to me it’s no different than having to put up with traffic, or clearing the windscreen of ice, or parking, all things I don’t have to bother with on two wheels.
With a load of new motorcycle licence rules, they’ve just made it even harder to join the elite club that I love, and so when I see another biker coming my way I emphatically nod, and more often than not I receive one back, because they have probably got the same grin on their face as me, even in the middle of January in the pouring rain, because we’re not having to pedal.