In This Is­sue

Motorcyclist - - Contents - —Zack Courts

the power and ca­pa­bil­ity of mo­tor­cy­cles draws peo­ple in, scares them away, and cap­tures the imag­i­na­tion of even the most sea­soned rid­ers. More than that, it em­bod­ies the pas­time we love on a pri­mal level. It was the thrill of horse­power that made me twist the grip and make engine noises on my bi­cy­cle as a kid.

For those rea­sons and more, the topic of per­for­mance seemed like a good one to fo­cus on for this is­sue, a book­end for this year and an as­pi­ra­tion for the next. Of all the ques­tions we’ve an­swered in engi­neer­ing more speed into our ma­chines—via tur­bocharg­ing and aero­dy­nam­ics and so on—there is one that never goes away. Why?

In some cases it’s sim­ple. The story on page 60 of the hey­day of ama­teur road­rac­ing in Amer­ica is a per­fect ex­am­ple of why peo­ple strive for speed: go faster, travel far­ther, win more money. A mer­i­toc­racy to the nth de­gree and a liveli­hood for many a racer. But, without money or fame, why reach for more speed?

Why dress in plates of ar­mor and in­su­la­tion, only to lean over at im­pos­si­ble an­gles on ice? That in­tan­gi­ble some­thing is al­ways alive in mo­tor­cy­cling, and it af­fects us all dif­fer­ently. Look at the faces of the next gen­er­a­tion of rac­ers on page 19, for ex­am­ple, and you’ll see the de­ter­mi­na­tion and joy that can only come from a boil­ing am­bi­tion to go faster.

We might not have all been child rac­ers, but we all have that de­sire to ride. The rit­u­al­is­tic rac­ers of West Vir­ginia on page 44 are a shin­ing ex­am­ple—blue-col­lar en­thu­si­asts with a strange pas­sion for drag rac­ing on dirt. Noth­ing to win ex­cept the re­spect of their bud­dies and a lit­tle less cash out of hand on Mon­day morn­ing.

And that gets at the core of hu­man na­ture: the want to ex­plore and ex­ceed what we have done be­fore. The best and worst rac­ers in the world, the griz­zli­est vet­er­ans, and the skinned-knee kid mak­ing two-stroke sounds in his drive­way—we have the same nu­cleus, and the sense of com­mu­nity is in­evitable. Why does per­for­mance mat­ter? Be­cause no mat­ter how fast we go, how much we bat­tle on a race­track or in the depths of an engi­neer­ing lab, mo­tor­cy­clists can’t help but feel closer to each other for it.

Col­leagues, friends, and, oc­ca­sion­ally, bit­ter ri­vals. There was no tro­phy at the end of the race, and yet we both wanted to win. What drives us all to try so hard?

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.