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Yesterday’s post got me thinking about rationalizations. It made me think of the scene from the Big Chill,
Michael: I don’t know anyone who could get through the day without two or three juicy rationalizations. They’re more important than sex.
Sam Weber: Ah, come on. Nothing’s more important than sex.
Michael: Oh yeah? Ever gone a week without a rationalization?
I wonder how many people rationalized their way onto a motorcycle. Lets face it, it is a big step to drive down the road with other drivers for the first time. A motorcycle is more exposed to the elements, less metal to protect you from flying debris or even worse other drivers. You have to really try to get a car to tip over, scratching the paint and shattering the side mirrors, something that is a constant danger to a motorscooter. And just wait for the person in front of you to ash out their window while you are following on your bike. A real pleasure. An alien from a different planet, brand new on Earth, would surely conclude that motorcycles are an inferior mode of transportation.
For most of us that ride, we know this not to be the case. Whether it be the wind in your face, the sparkle of polished chrome, the pull when you throttle back or the many convienences that motorcycling affords we all get something profound, more or less, from riding. So how did we get there?
I stood in front of my mom in the living room as she expressed her disdain between tears and sobs of my recent decision to buy a motorcycle. She had gone through the same thing with my dad years earlier when he started to ride again and was going through it one more time with me. She had heard all of the rationalizations before and rides with my dad but still was not convinced I should be riding. I knew only time would assure her that I was a safe rider, but she played the trump card, “It is not you I am afraid of, it is all the other whackos out there". There really is no comeback to that question. So I filed it under “Good To Know” and went and got a 2 year old 1997 Kawasaki Vulcan 500LTD.
But how did I rationalize that a motorcycle would be better than my very versatile, extremely reliable 4x4 pick-up? This is where all bikers differ. We all have our own reasons. Some valid, others built on shaky falsehoods and lots in the middle. Mine is the ever-present desire to do things differently and reap the benefits. It is an exercise for my mind. During my commute I need to figure out what the drivers are thinking, by observing their behavior and predicting what they will do in the future. It is an exercise in coordination. Splitting lanes in the rain hones your clutch and throttle skills while you try to avoid hitting mirrors and stay off of the slippery cat’s eyes. It is an exercise in self control. Sure I could cruise around at 90 mph all the time, and I could flip off all the cars that cut me off but being an ambassador to the culture, which all of us who ride are, we need to show that we are above that. Motorcycles for me, I know this may sound corny, relax my soul. It satisfys the three aspects of my life, the spiritual, the mental, and the physical. That is why I bike.
So I will have to agree with the alien from another planet and say motorcycles are inferior modes of transportation, but the people who ride them should strive to be superior forms of human beings.