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The devil inside. 2/18/2007

I was reading this at Irondad’s a few days ago, and I burst out laughing. He got spotted doing something naughty on the open road, and because of his vocation as a riding instructor, someone reported him in. No foul, but he did make a point about how visible riders are when they are doing something illegal, and how easily riders and bikes can be recognised.

Riding superbikes is a high profile hobby in this country, where, because of the tax and pricing structure, superbikes are twice as expensive as anywhere else in the world. Our immediate neighbours, to the north and the south, have bikes priced reasonably, in that they don’t cost 2 years salary for the average Joe to buy. I kid you not. A brand spanking new R-1 will set you back the best part of $30,000 US dollars. So that makes big bikes a rarity here, in terms of daily use. And one thing all superbikes, cruisers, big bikes are, on the road, is that they are noticeable.

They stand out, in terms of looks, and noise. And most especially in terms of speed.

On my daily commute, I tend to go the subdued route. I wear a black helmet, with a black visor. A black touring jacket, dark pants, black boots, black gloves. Riding an all black bike. One of my neighbours who shares the same route to work as I do remarked to me that she sees me most mornings on the trek in to work, and said I look like a very intimidating black shadow as I weave between the cars.

On other rides, however, I sometimes wear something else from my collection of helmets, or different suits or jackets, or boots. I guess I’m lucky enough to have a large choice of riding apparel to chose from. And Irondad’s post made me think about how recognisable I am while riding. A big, loud silver machine, looking like sex on wheels, with a rider on it wearing a racing suit, red boots, red gloves, and flourescent red helmet, it instantly recognisable. And more to the point, memorable.

Part of me realises that this is asking for trouble. Riding as I do most times, with very little respect for road rules, means that what I’m doing on the road could possibly look a little scary to other road users. I don’t endanger others when I’m riding. I don’t do extra-legal speeds in heavy traffic. I ride responsibly, and only push the envelope when conditions are in my favour. The slightest doubt, and I will always err on the conservative side. I am well aware of how long my bones take to heal.

However, no matter how good my intentions are, or the fact that as a senior rider in the local biking community, I’m supposed to be setting a good example to other riders and the public, there are times when the urge hits, and the red mist descends. When I throw away the rule book, and caution to the winds, and will whack that throttle to W.F.O. and bugger the consequences. All riders will do this, now and again. All riders. Anyone who comes and tells me he doesn’t sometimes say, ‘to hell with it” and guns the engine for more speed, just for the thrill of it, is lying.

The whole point of motorcycles, and why they are so much more fun than any car, is the speed, and the way they go around corners.

So the next time you see a rider on a large machine on the road, zooming past, let him be. He’s having fun. And if you happen to be in a cage, watching that bike zoom past and sucking your windows out, don’t think about how dangerous it is. Imagine the fun you could be having too, riding on that biker’s wing, carving up the road.