My favorite ride is now officially ‘vintage’ having just passed the venerable age of 25 years – and that is my NEW bike! It goes where I want it to with aplomb and has never left me stranded. Maintenance is relatively easy and uncomplicated and I don’t have to re-mortgage the house when it needs new tires. So why am I looking for another bike; a new bike?
Like the man who climbed mountains “because they were there,” I am looking at new bikes because they are shiny and new and available – and have a lot of horsepower to spare… I think it is the horsepower part that really grabs me! Occasionally, just occasionally, I would like to be able to wipe the self-satisfied smirk from the face of some squid that gets his kicks by passing me on the double yellow in oncoming traffic!
When I am being honest with myself, I know that I really don’t like riding on the edge. Thrills are one thing, frightening myself is quite another. Unfortunately, I’m not immune to the condition that David Hough refers to as “whimpophobia.” Truth is, very few of us are. Mostly we learn to live with the fact that we aren’t piloting the hottest thing on two wheels, nor are our skills up to the task – but there are times…
I am most at risk of silly temptations and attempted feats of bravado when I’m riding with others. If ‘X’ can run that corner at 80kph on his supersport, why can’t I? So I push a little harder and run a little more throttle than normal, and the bike scrapes a bit and my heart rate jumps a bunch. And why? Just to prove to anyone who might care that I can cut the mustard too. But nobody is watching, so why do I still push? I know better. Our riding skills are different, the tires are different, the bike is way different – Yet my ego can still be bruised by riding within my own limits. Dumb!!! Yes dumb, but very real. And I don’t even have to deal with that ever-dangerous mix of horsepower and testosterone!
As much as we might think that our age and experience and choice of bike might set us apart from the crowd, human nature seems to dictate a degree of competition that can easily lead down a scary road. Just because that technicoloured sportbike can run rings around your touring bike doesn’t mean that your skills are any less – it is a case of comparing apples and oranges. And the place to settle who is the better rider when the other variables have been eliminated? Why, that is called a race, and races are best confined to official racetracks!
Our ever fragile egos… They can sneak up and bite us unexpectedly. The opportunities for competition are as endless as destinations for rides. And the most frightening location of all is the showroom floor. The purchase of too much bike or the wrong style of bike in order to satisfy your lust/want/need is a recipe for disaster. Salespeople are big into selling. Your particular skills and needs may not be part of their sales pitch. Buyer beware – in more ways than one. Competitiveness seems to be a hardwired into us. This is not a bad thing and we probably wouldn’t have survived as a species without it. But to pilot a motorcycle safely and for the long haul, the competitive reflexes should be firmly quashed, or at least held in check. Besides, it makes it easier to wave to fellow cyclists when you aren’t running at redline. -- Alison Green