My Middle Name

KERRY_0047

How many times can you ride your motorcycle around in circles? Is “countless” a number? The summer of 1974 found me tucked in behind the handle bars of my Harley-Davidson X90, turning laps in the field by my house. No kidding, a stars and stripes helmet with a blue bubble face-shield protecting my dashing good looks and my bell bottom blue jeans and tennis shoes completing the ensemble. Mert Lawwill, you have nothing on me! All I wanted to do was race the Springfield Mile and at 12 years old it surely seemed possible.

When you’re a kid anything seems possible. Somewhere along the line as we got older we found it’s not as easy as it looks, and reality called and said we needed to get a job and stop riding in circles. I eventually raced a little, but not dirt track and definitely not at the professional level, but that didn’t stop me from wanting to. I think it’s more about timing and location rather than about desire. The desire has always been burning inside me, and even today I think I could go out and do whatever it is I want to do, dirt track included. Sure, I may hurt myself in the process, but that’s called danger, and when we were young, that was our middle name. For some reason my mother told me mine was Lamont.

 Sure, I may hurt myself in the process, but that’s called danger, and when we were young, that was our middle name. For some reason my mother told me mine was Lamont.

Those days of practicing and honing my riding skills came with a cost. Many blisters, a few broken bones and a host of scrapes was just another day of living the dream in becoming the top of the field (or at least the field by my house) in motorcycle racing. Many times, after planting myself into the ground from riding over my head, I would lie there in the dirt listening to the engine screaming as the throttle was stuck open. Dusty, dazed and confused and fully convinced bones were broken and afraid to move, I wondered how long an engine would run like that. A second later, after diagnosing myself, I would hop back to my feet and run over to shut it down. Checking the mechanical condition of my bike, away I would ride only to repeat the process. Nobody said it would be easy and I was having so much fun, why would I stop? How else would I get any better? Nowadays, I would probably lay there and let the motor blow.

Looking back over the years I have come to realize that anything is possible. It’s never too late and it’s all about doing what you love. Maybe those times while laying face down in the dirt after coming up short on a jump, throttle stuck wide open on my bike with the engine singing at the top of its lungs, it was trying to tell me something; Live your life wide open. Love with all your heart and chase after your dream because one day you just might catch it. Oh, and don’t get up, your leg is broken.

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.