Thanks to a tip from The Motorcycle Obsession, I caught this interesting interview with Harley Davidson’s CEO from a few days ago. Regardless of how you may feel about Harley Davidson, CEO Matt Levatich said something that struck a chord with me, “Why do you ride a motorcycle?”
Discussing Harley’s plans to put more riders on the road, this question was embedded in a point discussing the “five-whys” of decision making. So I stopped and thought about it, why do I ride a motorcycle?
Having just spent a entire day wandering around northern Kentucky looking at covered bridges, the “feeling” is pretty fresh in my mind. I’ve often told people that I feel like riding a motorcycle is the closest thing I’ll ever experience to being a fighter pilot. “The feeling”, that’s easily the first response, but it’s probably tough for the non-rider to relate to. What does it feel like to ride a motorcycle? Some might say “the wind in your hair”, “the sun on your face”, for me it’s the acceleration of the engine, torque pushing you into the seat, horsepower “holding” you there, the suspension compressing as the bike carves through the corners. Occasionally there’s a flavor stark terror sprinkled in when you encounter things like gravel mid-turn or crest a blind rise; while frightening, I admit I actually enjoy those moments too. It makes you feel “alive”, it’s “thrilling”.
The thrill… Yeah, there’s no doubt that’s addicting. Prior to my off-road excursions, those that have ridden with me will tell you that I want nothing more than one section of technical twisties followed by another. That has not changed in recent days, however I have found an almost equal motivator, solitude. I spoke to that when describing “The perfect ride”; riding all by your lonesome on sparsely populated byways is a unique feeling, especially when you’re a city dweller. As much as I find it to be a cliched buzz-word, “independence” comes to mind, but I think I prefer “self-reliance”, and if nothing else, it certainly fits my definition of “adventure”.
Adventure takes on a new definition when the Scrambler leaves the pavement. While seldom solo, overlanding a 500 pound pig presents challenges; it’s a thinking game as much as it’s a test of skills and occasionally muscle. “Challenging”, that seems fitting; riding a motorcycle engages each appendage and all of your senses. Few activities in today’s world can say that. However, beyond the challenges and the thrills, riding off-road combines the solace of solitude with a distinct connection with nature. I’ve ridden Shawnee State Forest and the Daniel Boone Backcountry Byway multiple times; yet each time unique because of the effects of nature. Trails evolve, even disappear depending on recent weather conditions. Wildlife is as much a factor in the ride as the trail itself; I’ve been swarmed by bugs, chased by dogs, and even witnessed a deer strike while riding off-road. When the challenges of managing the machine and the wildlife assault takes respite, I’ve found some of the most majestic views from saddle. Solemn moments spent watching the sun go down in the mountains are irreplaceable memories, all made possible by a motorcycle.
Challenge, solitude, and adventure are easily the first words that come to mind when explaining my love of motorcycles. Why do ride a motorcycle?