916 on country road

From Bike Hater to Bike Lover

I have one of my best friend who is the complete opposite of a motorcyclist. Or at least he thought he was. 
He is a poet, very close to nature, spending most of the year living and writing in the wood. His mean of transportation is walking, he covered thousands of miles over months by walking. He said that walking is the only way to develop a strong connection to the landscape, the environment, and the weather. How can a machine match these sensations? How can those noisy, artificial things be graceful at all?
We know each other since we were 17 but he never sat on a bike before. This is how he learned to stop worrying and start to love the motorcycle. 

The trip

He came to visit me in Berlin and one evening after a couple of beers he said he wanted to go to Hamburg for the weekend and I said only if we go there by motorcycle. My statement was followed by a long silence and a sip of his beer, then he said: “if I don’t like it I’ll walk back to Berlin and you know I’m serious”. And I know he was but we shook hands anyway and a week later we were on the bike. He was tense and skeptic at the beginning. I was checking if he was alright every now and then. So as we left the city I speeded up a bit.
It was spring and the air was fresh so we had to take breaks in between to have a tea or a soup to warm up. When he took his helmet off I saw a different face than before setting off. It was the expression of someone who jumped in the ocean for the first time and suddenly realized how powerful are the waves. He said it was fascinating the density of the air, an element we’re not aware of when we don’t move. But it becomes more and more present increasing the speed. This gave him the feeling of a perpetual free fall, flying a few inches from the road. Thoughtful he drank his coffee and got back on the bike for the rest of the trip. 

When he saw the light

It was first in a bar in St. Pauli in Hamburg when he was finally ready to talk.  In front of two beers, we came to the conclusion that our way of traveling weren’t that different after all. When you walk, the gods of wind, sun and rain are there. You can feel their presence while accelerating and pushing yourself and the bike forward is like challenging the gods who are pushing you back. He was hit by the sensation of flying over the road. And like walking, we were outside at the mercy of the weather. 
I love the racetrack and twisty roads but hitting the highway for hours can be quite boring. Like walking. Watching the horizon on an empty straight highway at constant speed can be very meditating. 

At the end, he chose to come back with us and we weren’t lucky because it was April and the temperature dropped to 4-5 degrees. We were freezing, and when we were at home he fell asleep like he never slept in his life. It’s not like in a car which it brings us somewhere. We are part of the machine or as Melissa Holbrook Pierson would say “The bike is waiting for the human to help it become its true self”.

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2 thoughts on “From Bike Hater to Bike Lover

  1. “as Melissa Holbrook Pierson would say “The bike is waiting for the human to help it become its true self”.” That made me laugh, and I thought – and my poor bike got me! I can completely relate to your friend’s feelings. I walked and cycled everywhere for the same reasons. But when I get into the moors on a bike – wow, you experience them in a way you never have before, even if it is only at 30 mph on a 125cc!
    Thanks for visiting the granny on a bike over at Blisters….

    1. 125cc are great motorcycles. If you like the quote I recommend you “The Perfect Vehicle” by M. H. Pierson, where I found it. Definitely one of the best books about motorcycles where she tries to answer the question ‘why we do ride?’

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