Photo by Genghis
ONLY THE LONELY: Do you get lonely on your bike?
THREE DOG NIGHT:
“One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do
Two can be as bad as one
It’s the loneliest number since the number one
No is the saddest experience you’ll ever know
Yes, it’s the saddest experience you’ll ever know
‘Cause one is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do”
GEORGE THE PAINTER, AUGUST 2011 THBC:
“So we ride ’em, not to shows or events, but we ride ’em just to get that feeling of control of the things around us….Nothing else in life is as simple as one man riding his machine. Life is supposed to be simple…so just ride.”
An interesting philosophy, as outlined by George The Painter. One that I can heartily endorse, as I am an unabashed loner when it comes to riding. There is basically one reason I buy THBC. You can be assured that it isn’t for the logjam of featured hacked-up Hondas, Kawasakis and Suzukis, punctuated by a few Harleys and Limeys in-between. It’s not to see the latest dumb trend being celebrated, like exhaust wrap. It’s not even for the self-aggrandizing editorials by THBC’s editorial director. It is for George The Painter’s writing. There is a good reason for my sole focus on “GTP” in the magazine.
He is compelling.
GTP is compelling because he advances compelling ideas. One such compelling idea is that riding a motorcycle, is a biker’s restorative exercise to feel whole, to feel in control of himself and his environment. No wonder I relate to his idea so much. It’s a sentiment I’ve voiced many times in my writing. Riding a motorcycle is therapeutic. It is a way for a person to feel whole, by balancing one’s life on two skinny tires at 80 miles per hour, dodging cars and challenging life itself—and succeeding.
A motorcycle is a vehicle designed for one occupant, optionally for two. I say “optionally,” because riding’s best when it just you on the bike. One’s best, screw the rest. The “motorcycle-and-biker” equation, is the purest form of motorcycling. One (the bike) plus one (the biker) equal two. Three Dog Night states that “Two can be as bad as one,” but I’m not sure that two can be as good as one, when it comes to riding on the bike. Two-up on the bike equals three, and three can be a crowd.
There’s no doubt in my biker’s mind, that a biker alone on his bike, is the purest expression of motorcycle riding. It’s just you and your bike negotiating the blacktop, as cathartic for the biker as an hour on Doctor Melfi’s couch, for Tony Soprano. Contrast this idea of solitude on the bike, with this description of a bike rally in the August 2011 Cycle Source:
“The event was burnouts, random massive explosions, an occasional rainbow trout, and stage diving off of cain roofs….good old-fashioned bike games…with hardcore partying around campfires….”
WTF? The contrast between the two ideals, is as stark as black and white. It’s as vivid as a contrast between national fiscal responsibility, and the 4.1 billion dollars America’a debt is increasing every day during Obama’s presidency (the national debt rose at a rate of 1.6 billion per day, during W’s presidency). One ideal embodies the irreplaceable experience of interacting with one’s motorcycle where it counts, and the other celebrates socializing on a heightened scale, using the bike as a prop.
There’s nothing wrong with the latter, but it doesn’t have a lot to do with motorcycles. Here’s a useful theoretical exercise for you. Mentally substitute the people at a bike rally with say, minivan owners. So it’s a rally for minivan owners instead of bikers we’re rappin’ about. These minivan owners can still “dive off of cabin roofs” and various other stupid human tricks. The common denomintor for both of these demographic groups, is that they use their vehicles, as an excuse to party. It really has zip to do with motorcycles, or minivans. You can mentally picture a rally for equestrians, and their horses would be the excuse to socialize.
There would be many in the culture who impose their idea of what it means to be a biker, as a litmus test for the rest of the subculture. “Hey. You don’t go to Sturgis? What’s wrong with you, man?” There are those who insist that enduring extreme pain while riding their bikes, is the prerequisite for being a biker. These types sound like candidates for prospecting in the Masochistic Bikers M.C. “One’s gotta be hurtin’ at the end, man.” I find this so ridiculous, as to be openly laughable. 707, man (“LOL,” flipped). Any biker that believes that being a biker consists of a series of “toughness tests” that have to be passed in order to qualify, has deeper issues to deal with than his bike.
There are no tests, only enjoyment.
Think back to when you were young, and you started riding motorcycles. The only motivation was that it was enjoyable to ride the bike. Bruce Lee once said of the martial arts….
“When I first got into it, a punch was just a punch and a kick was just a kick. After a few years, it became more than that. When I finally became good at it, a punch was just a punch and a kick was just a kick.”
It’s the same thing with being a biker. It was just plain fun to me when I was young to hop on a bike, and just go—and it still is just plain fun to hop on the bike “and go.” Some things should never change. Some things change because of peer pressure. Some things change, because of pressures from within, that reflect more about mental states, than riding bikes. The Masochistic Bikers M.C. are filled with riders without true identities. Ya gotta have confidence, man. The biker trip is this, and just this:
Just hop on the bike, and go.