Monday, August 28, 2006

A Cager’s Perception of Motorcyclists

I consider myself to be a well grounded person, so I’m not often struck by great discoveries and shouts of “Eureka”. This makes it all the more surprising when I do have a notable moment of lucidity. Such an event happened last week at work when I was chatting with one of my co-workers about motorcycling; which in itself holds no big surprise, as it’s one of my favourite subjects. The guy I was talking with is your typical mid-forties office worker with wife and kids, a house in the suburbs, minivan, etc. He likes hockey, talking politics, and has a beer every now and then. He takes two weeks off in the summer, one week at Christmastime, and another for March Break. He doesn’t ride and has never ridden a motorcycle, nor has anybody in his family, so when it comes to motorcycling he’s a complete virgin full of preconceptions.

It was while talking to him that I had one of those “A-ha!” moments when it all finally made sense. Here’s my big conclusion: Cagers actually accept media hype as the truth when it comes to motorcycling. This guy couldn’t believe that I actually rode a motorcycle without being in some kind of “gang”. To me this was a great surprise, as I had no idea that it was some kind of prerequisite. So I simply explained (very slowly) that motorcycles are not only a fun way to get from point A to point B; but they also make sense from an economical and environmental standpoint. He had to sit patiently through my spiel which goes something like this: “How often have you noticed a big gas guzzling SUV rolling down the highway with the driver as the sole occupant? Now imagine if that same driver had been riding a +50mpg motorcycle. Wouldn’t that make more sense?” I love this argument because anybody with a shred of ecological conscience (and at least half an ounce of grey matter) simply can’t refute it.

He was then surprised to learn that my riding suit covered everything from head to toe in a synthetic material (i.e. no chaps or leather fringe). Again, I explained that many riders prefer to have a riding suit that adheres to a certain fashion; while my personal preference was to wear something that would keep me as safe as possible in case of an accident. I didn’t bother going into the whole leather vs. synthetic issue as both have their pros and cons, and such a discussion would most likely have been over his head.

Finally, he was left completely confused after looking at my bike, which clearly isn’t a cruiser, nor is it a sportbike. Again, I explained that there are many different styles of motorcycles that correspond to different riders’ styles and preferences. My choice is a motorcycle that can handle both the daily commute and a cross-country trip.

I figure I’ll let my teachings sink into buddy’s cranium before I start instructing him on the fine points of countersteering, but I can just hear it now: “You mean by turning left you go right?!?” Oh boy, my work here is not done.


Biker Betty said...

I guess your city doesn't have too many motorcyclists? Mine does and there are many just tooling around doing their thing all by themselves. So I don't think many get the impression you are in a "gang" when you motorcycle, lol.

I tried posting a day ago, but Blogger was acting up and it disappeared, sigh. Anyway, I loved reading all about your conversation, Betty :)

Lucky said...

Hi Betty,

Although there are quite a few motorcyclists in my area, I think I can understand a cager's perspective since they don't really notice you when you're alone - they'll only see you when you're riding in a group! Unfortunate, I know, but there is some truth to it. Also, because motorcycling is a very social activity, I think many people do tend to hang-out with other motorcyclists, this in turn can also give the impression to the neophite that we're all members of some notorious "gang"!