At the ripe old age of 24, I have gone through about 12 different bikes. There are currently 3 that I own, 3 that I rebuilt and 2 that I ride. Alongside photography, bikes are my thing. They do get me in trouble, they get me hurt, but each time I get on my bike, all my worries go out the window. Many people ask why I ride and some people just plain don’t get it, I’d like to take this opportunity to explain.
Bikes are more than just 2 wheels and an engine, but unfortunately lots of people won’t see them as anything more. People rarely focus on the positives of something so dangerous, especially the people who don’t see past the fact that riding a bike is more that a convenient method to get from A to B. Being at the control of something that will show you the freedom of being open to your surroundings without the safety and comfort of a metal cage is something else. There is a certain realness about riding. The danger versus the reward. This is where my hunger to ride comes from. The closer I put myself out there, the more alive I feel. It is something people talk about, but its something I’ve only come to know for myself just now. The exposure to the risk is what makes life that much better, but I often feel like sometimes this is an acquired view.
I came home from a motorcycle related accident in crutches the other day. I won’t lie, I can be young, dumb and sometimes have my head up in the clouds. But I also do know that sometimes I need the unfriendly reminder to plant my feet back on the ground. I’ve had my crashes, I am glad I am not one of those who live in fear or worry of the things I do, they are the things that I have instead come to terms with. I’ve learnt my lessons and I’m just thankful that I am still here riding in one piece. Riding a bike is an unforgiving teacher, learning on a bike can be the difference between life and death. Slip up once and you can consider yourself gone. That is the consequence that some will have to pay.
To answer the question, will I ever stop riding? The answer the short answer is; yes.
I have achieved so much of what I set out to on my bike that I am quite happy to stop if I have to. Even though I’m no Travis Pastrana, I have fulfilled the wants which resided inside me from the moment I first threw my leg over a motorcycle. My motorcycle was proof to me that I can achieve my personal goals, and I cannot describe how good it makes me feel knowing I have finally done so. I’ve gone from being up on the back wheel down empty streets at 150km/h to having my knee scraping along the ground and being inches away from the tarmac at who knows how fast. Call me crazy, but by doing these things, I satisfy an urge and a hunger that needed to be fed. A hunger that not all people might have, but I certainly do, and to me, that is therapy.
As I grow older, I think there will always be a space in my garage for a classic cafe racer. A bike which will stick to the speed limit but allow me to enjoy the freedom of two wheels through my age. I certainly wouldn’t be riding like the mad man I once was. I think I’ll be riding for the peace, serenity and that time to myself which I so often like to indulge in. I have my thrills when I am young, so I don’t have to have that urge later on. When you’re young, you have a beautiful opportunity to use your body to the fullest. I don’t want to chase these thrills at any other time other than now. But I’m at the point where I can stop. I can say I’ve tried, I’ve been there, I’ve pushed the boundaries, and I’ve found where I stand. I hope I will live to a day where my skin will be wrinkled and my joints sore, a day where I’ll look back on the photos, read this article and be reminded of how full it makes me feel that I can close the book having read every letter of every page. How many of you can stop and say that right here right now, up unto this point, you have lived life exactly as it should be, down to the pinprick of a bees dick. That you had listened to your heart instead of those around you and followed it, that you have set yourself tasks and proven to yourself that you can shatter them with persistence and determination. I for one can say I have.
All in all, I think there is sometimes a very fine line between testing your skills and flirting with danger. It is something I keep in check whenever I ride. To the people that tell me what I do is dangerous and to be careful, I am thankful for the fact that I have people in my life that care enough about me to tell me so. When I ride, I know that it is me and only me that will carry the consequences of my actions. I fill out the metaphorical waiver when I slip my helmet on and I sign along the dotted line each time I throw a leg over. I am the one that acknowledges and agrees to all dangers of what I once did. Ironically, the people who once tried to change my mind on bikes are the ones who have been living a sheltered life. Just quietly; you are missing out. Give things a chance, open your mind, face your fears. Give it a go some time, just once. Your soul will thank you for it. You should never trade the thrills of living for the security of your existence.