Alive to the true, the real, and the other, on the seat of a rolling cycle
for such a solitary act, motorcycling is not an egocentric act. When I’m riding my motorcycle, I know I’m not truly alone.
For motorcyclists, the knowledge (or experience) of owning, riding, and maintaining a cycle facilitates the association between its members: those who view the world through a helmet’s opening and whose greasecovered hands are most competent when grasping a wrench. Motorcycling engages every aspect of selfhood.
The inescapable elements and the alertness required of riding well constantly announce our embodied existence. As it carries us on every journey, the motorcycle lays us bare beneath the heavens, vulnerable to the vagaries of waning time and the passing miles.
It plays upon our every sense. Lying in bed after a full day in the saddle, my hands tingle where the bars vibrated for hours on end. My closed eyes trace the corners and elevation changes of the road. I can hear the howl of the wind in my ears and feel its sting upon my skin.
The motorcycle, as it fully engages our forms and faculties, is a herald of physical existence. Our bodies are the carriages of our humanity; they carry our thoughts and our histories and our desires. The motorcycle affirms that our bodies are meant for something—that life’s triumphs and hardships are not without meaning.
Purposeless without our bodies to set it in motion, the motorcycle—like us—is only fulfilling its design brief when it finds itself in relation to another.
In this way, the motorcycle creates empathy. Its self-reflective quality becomes an agent for revealing commonality that transcends its most basic utility: It affirms our innate need to be known to each other. We are meant to share in suffering and failure and love and bliss.
And in moments of isolation, when we are caught in the snare of solipsism, we need only take hold of the bike’s key and venture into the garage.
I tighten my gloves and turn the key in the ignition. The fuel pump primes; the bike cranks over. The garage walls vanish in a haze of exhaust. The noise of combustion gradually fades as my earplugs swell. I open the garage door to the waiting world. I kick it in gear, let out the clutch, and the wheels begin to move.
I know that I am not alone.