Looking for Phil – A Motorcycle Journey

frostdl

At times it can seem like a desperate situation, one minute you’re a hero and the next a total zero. It’s hard to make up for those times when expectations are high and then reality beats you down. Some days it’s just not worth all the hassle. On the other hand, determination will take over and you feel like no matter the odds, you can – and will overcome. We ride. Sometimes we don’t ride. Sometimes we need to ride regardless of the weather. This morning it is freezing drizzle. Today, I’m looking for a particular Ground Hog.

I know it’s not his fault. Just like our local weatherman, both are just messengers of truth, or rather speculation, on what we motorcyclists consider the key ingredient to our particular mode of transportation. Good weather is our gasoline and right now for some motorcyclists the gas station is closed. Toying with our emotions is never advised and we put such high hopes in all you represent. How long will you keep us off our motorcycles? Maybe the greater question is CAN you keep us off our motorcycles?

So today I ride. I ride in search of you my friend – to show you that it is not my desperation to ride, but rather my passion to ride! Alas, I do not blame you. It’s your job to be the bearer of news, good or bad. And I will lift you to shoulder height when the news of an early spring comes, but not today. So hide in your stump, Phil. Look away from me and know that for the next few weeks we are not friends. Our relationship will always have its moments, but for now you are dead to me.

We can choose to be fair-weather riders and have our riding habits dictated by fury animals and “weather in motion”. But if the garage walls appear to be closing in, it’s time to get out – and ride. I prefer to ride!

A Perfect Combination – Why We Ride

1974 Harley-Davidson 90

1974 Harley-Davidson 90

It’s a contagious kind of passion, not the quiet kind we keep to ourselves. We ride motorcycles, and our enthusiasm shows from the expressions on our faces all the way down to the mark on our left boot. I just watched the film Why We Ride and I am honored as an average motorcyclist to be included in a like-minded and emotional, devoted and fun-loving community. The connection we have is easier to explain to those who already ride, but to those who don’t – you should watch this film. Why We Ride hits the mark and it shines through in the real people featured along the way. Mert Lawwill, you are one of those people who had a direct impact on why I ride. Real people, real stories and true words spoken.

How do you make a film that explains who we are without telling the stories of those who paved the way before us? A beautiful transition from our past to the present looking through a window to how the more things change in motorcycles, it will always be the people and the reasons we ride that remains the same. History, speed, danger and gasoline make for a perfect combination. What better way to express ourselves than with the sounds and smells of a machine that is the extension of our own heart and soul? Just add spark.

We have our own personal reasons for riding and no matter the age of the hand that twists the throttle, the reaction will always be the same. That motion our throttle hand creates tells “our” stories – of who we are and how life changing motorcycles can be. Our lives are so intertwined with the mechanics of the motorcycle that for some it is one and the same. Life changing and life in general all rolled into one.

The language spoken throughout the film is universal and the feelings are mutual. We ride motorcycles by choice but the camaraderie, competition and connection is a direct reflection of what these amazing machines are capable of. Even as a rider, Why We Ride inspires me. It made me proud to be a part of where we’ve been and where we’re going as a sport. It shows the side of motorcycling that is often overlooked by non-riders. Family, in both the immediate and extended sense of the word.

I may not compete at the highest levels of competition or travel around the world as Ted Simon has, and that’s okay. Others ride to share those experiences and that’s all a part of the bigger picture. We are writing the history of motorcycling with every revolution of our wheels and we are making our own memories and participating in the memories of those we ride with. WE are the reason we ride!

A thank you to the makers of Why We Ride and thanks to all who had a part. YOU are the reason I ride.

The Mechanics of Emotion

DSCN0477

Take a step back. Look. It’s motor in plain site-the oil lines expose and its polished cases reflecting a fun-house image of yourself. The air cleaner is prominent and the cables that run from the hand controls to the power plant are waiting for your every command. The suspension is visible as are the disc brakes-a conflict in horsepower and stopping power, when all it wants to do is go, and go fast. Gears, pistons, bearings and oil. Precision cut with an idea of what is truly possible from internal combustion. Adding to this, a couple of gallons of gasoline sitting between your legs, and you fire it up. The sound, the smell and the vibration of a machine as it runs, brought to life by the push of a button or a kick of a lever.We feel it. Emotion.

We talk of motorcycles as a mechanical object-which they are. but when the inventors of two-wheel motion started assembling the early versions, they were in fact changing how we would feel about transportation that “moves” us. There is a lot of parts and pieces that are required to turn a machine into emotion but it happens with a single spark. It happens every time the motor fires up. A spark can transform peace and quiet-to gears turning, pistons pumping and exhaust throwing out the sound of life. This directly affects our physical and mental state, far beyond what was originally intended by those Harley and Davidson boys. 

The mechanical side of motorcycles is something amazing in itself. But the emotional side can be even more complicated to understand. It moves us in a three-dimensional way; physically, socially and emotionally. For over one hundred years, mechanics have never had to replace the emotional part of a motorcycle.