"What is it about motorcycling, anyway?"
So was the question that my mother-in-law asked me last weekend as she was staying with us for a brief visit. The question didn't really catch me by surprise, as she's never been too fond of my interest in motorcycles. She's also not too keen to the fact that my passion has somehow rubbed-off on her daughter! What did catch me off guard was how direct she was with the question. It wasn't confrontational in any way, but seemed like genuine curiosity on her behalf.
I can't help but wonder how many motorists (i.e. cagers) are left bewildered when listening to motorcyclists wax eloquently on the inherent advantages of desmodromic valve actuation. Then again, many motorcyclists would be confused by that subject. But to us, the chosen few, the attraction to motorcycling seems so simple yet difficult to communicate. Kinda like sex... wait, forget that. Almost everybody has some idea about sex, while two-wheeled travel remains an enigma to most.
So put yourself in their shoes for a minute, the majority. Why would you chose a method of transportation that seems downright primitive over a nice, comfy, quiet, air-conditioned bubble? I can only speak for myself, but when I'm riding on two wheels I feel alive. I can connect with the heat and the cold, the sounds around me, the smells wafting into my helmet. The feedback from the bike is physical. I shift my weight and it responds. It doesn't get much more real than that. The act of driving in a car is in itself an isolation. Car manufacturers boast how quiet and peaceful their vehicles are; its what most people want. Not me.
I've had some biker friends mock me for adding large sidecases and a topcase to my bike ("looks like Silver has hemorrhoids" said one particularly humourous biker - funny, eh?). Truth is, the big cases allow me to pack groceries, laptop, equipment for work... in a nutshell, it allows me to live without having to drive a car. And for six to eight months out of the year, that suits me just fine.
So although I still don't have an answer for my mother-in-law, I did offer this one up : "Hop on and you'll understand." Luckily for me, she has yet to take me up on the offer.