The Journey

600cc of awesome

I’m not quite this awesome.
But close…

And suddenly I am the coolest person in our circle of friends; even without a Harley or a Triumph I’ve ended up meeting the Chris Jericho test after all (1). I suppose that in some cases, the key to passing that test is simply being the one who actually gets on a bike.

Just about everyone Jenn and I hang out with on this island is an artist of some sort: performers, singer-songwriters, painters, musicians, authors, filmmakers. All those ridiculous red-wine conversations you see mimicked in films? That’s my actual life, yo. And by and large, I enjoy it. These are people who are witty and thought-provoking, and quite often come out with some of the most fantastic tales you’ve ever heard.
They are such amazing people, in fact, that I often feel a little out of my depth. My friend, Clint, for example, is cleverer than you. It’s his job. He’s a successful stand-up comedian and he possesses a brilliance in almost always being able to offer a witty reply.
The other day, though, Jenn and I rode the CBF600 (2) over to his and his partner’s house. In the presence of the machine, Clint seemed to be struggling to put his words together.
 “Oh-ho,” he said. “It’s got that real… smell of a… motorbike. It, you know, it smells like…”
“Freedom,” I joked. “It smells like freedom, Clint.”
This was probably the only time I ever have or ever will beat him to a punchline, and I have the motorcycle to thank.

Over the past several months, every time I’ve mentioned this wild motorcycle obsession to another male, I’ve found I was not alone. Indeed, just about every man I know has confessed that he, too, secretly wants a bike. In part because many of the company I keep are feminists, I am particularly averse to drawing conclusions based solely on gender, but the empirical truth is that the overwhelming majority of men I have spoken to have expressed a desire to get a motorcycle.

A second empirical truth is that only one of those men seems to be taking any action toward achieving that goal (my coworker has spent the past several months restoring a 1967 Lambretta, despite never having ridden one before).

What to do with these empirical truths is a different issue. What conclusions, if any, can be drawn? I don’t know. But I can say that I feel humblebrag proud of myself for following through. I have a personal mantra, “If you’re going to say it, you’d better do it,” (3) and feel most accomplished when I manage to live up to this creed.

Treading even further down the dangerous path of gender-based generalities, I can’t help but noticing, too, that the bike has the ability to evoke an equally foundational-emotional response from women. Speak to them about a motorcycle and they will either show no interest, or disdain. But put them next to a bike, encourage them to sit on the saddle, and something deeper takes over.

Clint’s partner, Laura, grinned as she gripped the handlebars and said: “Do I look bad-ass? I’ll bet I look fucking bad-ass.”

Another woman sat on the bike and squealed like a little girl, waving her hands about and giggling as though on a thrill ride rather than a stationary motorcycle.

All of these reactions, of course, reflect back on me, and I feel that in just a tiny way they alter how people see me. I don’t necessarily believe that such a change in perception is solid enough that it can be labelled as good or bad, just that it occurs. Or maybe I only feel that way.

Whatever the case, I find it interesting and strange that simple ownership of a trundling hunk of machinery could have such an effect. I suppose the moral of the story, mis amigos, is this: Get a motorcycle; it will change your life.

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(1) “All the women want to be with me; all the men want to be like me.” — Upon further research, it may be that this quote actually originates with Ric Flair and that I simply read it in one of Chris Jericho’s books.
(2) Jenn has decided I should name the bike Aliona, in deference to one of my favourite “Strictly Come Dancing” professional dancers, Aliona Vilani.

(3) I used to prefer the far simpler: “Don’t say; do.” But the fact is, I am a talker and it is almost impossible for me to avoid yammering on about something I care about.