A motorcycle parked in front of a tent on a pleasant green campsite

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A Great Asset

Post Received 25 February 2021

By Ian Douglas (cartoons by Ian too)

It is rather stretching things to consider a piece of machinery a mate. But I do, sort of, it is my standby, when things get gloomy it cheers me up! What can you depend on these days? The good lady, a relative or two, a school chum or perhaps a dog if you have one. There is always your motorbike, it is a marvellous fallback. After a rough day there it is and somehow everything is good again. The bike does not care if you messed up, it says, "forget it, tomorrow's another day".

Without wishing to diminish the role of partners, our bikes are a foil to the frustrations that we can encounter daily, they represent a simpler and pleasanter world. Our motorbikes are intrinsically attractive things, they absorb our attention and help block out negatives that we might otherwise dwell on. They are associated with outdoors and evoke memories of distant trips, stops at cafes and generally happy times without many worries. 

A dog chases after a rider saying wait for me! Cartoon

Cocooned in a motor you are isolated from the real world, effectively whisked about in an armchair peering through portals. Four wheels plus weather and crash protection lacks the soul and excitement of a motorbike. The cage is definitely safer but has not the same sense of exhilaration, freedom and adventure. A motorcycle adds another dimension, your bike sets you apart – you are a different kind of doughnut to the rest, one with a bit of sparkle and zest.

I note the disapproving looks from certain neighbours but do I want to be like them? It is dangerous but you have to follow your passions rather than being constrained by convention. It is probably no bad thing to have a bit of a separate time away from your dearly beloved. It can do you both good and there is consequently new stuff to talk about, not that my misses is that interested in what her old chap gets up to, unsupervised, on his vintage motorcycle.

A day out on the bike has the makings of a treat, the more thought that is put into a proposed trip the better. Preparing the bike and the route is part of the fun. You don’t want to find that you have left your 'phone or visor cleaner behind and perhaps a map or two isn't a bad idea. I try to take a camera as there can be a photo opportunity. Always sensible to tuck in a jumper, water bottle and torch in there somewhere just in case there is a delay.

Owning a motorcycle shows a moderately non-conformist streak, a breath of fresh air. it marks us out as having individuality. We get emotional about our machines, there is a bond that develops between man and motorcycle. We are frequently tinged with remorse long after we sell them. I have heard grown men say "I loved that bike" with a wistful look of regret. Naturally, it raised an eyebrow or two but then only another motorcyclist would  understand.

These sentiments are tempered with the odd glitch, our bikes are no longer youthful. They are lovable rouges, we fork out and get them fixed, heart rules head. We put way too much time and money into them. It is an affliction, but we are not alone, you meet others with the same blind devotion. Theoretically old motorbikes are like Trigger's broom, they have the potential to be kept going if their owners are smitten and their pockets are deep enough.

Sometimes you stumble across a kindred spirit and swap a few pearls of wisdom or even an ex-biker with a tale to tell.  There is not much chance of casual acquaintances when you are in a car, it is a completely different kettle of fish, much more isolating and anonymous altogether. There is no real relationship with a modern car, not like listening to the exhaust note of a motorcycle, leaning through a bend or pulling up in a market square ready for a coffee and a chat.

A motorbike that is off the road is not a disaster, there can be satisfaction in dismantling and reassembling, refurbishing and polishing. An element of nostalgia creeps in, many of us have owned motorbikes for many years. We can find a connection back to earlier times, it reawakens a past euphoria to some extent. Motorbikes are integral to our persona. With no motorcycle things would be dull - if a dog is man’s best friend then a motorbike is a close second.

Cartoon a lady and a dog wave goodbye to a motorcyclist riding away


Share your own motorcycling experience - click here.

Reader's Comments

KiwiJeff said :-
Perfectly sums up why I ride Ian. Thank you, I enjoyed reading both the prose and your cartoons. Now when can I fit in the next ride!
15/03/2021 22:56:04 UTC
Paul A said :-
A nicely written piece, thanks for sharing. 'So many bikes, so little time.'
16/03/2021 07:55:04 UTC
CrazyFrog said :-
Yes, agree with all of that, very well put!
16/03/2021 11:38:02 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
Very nice Ian. Although I think you may find some women ride as well.......

As for bikes being a foil for frustrations - mine seem to be the cause of them on some occasions!
16/03/2021 16:15:47 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Women!! On motorcycles!! It'll lead to all kinds of debauchery and before you know it they'll be wanting the vote too. If my Sharon had a motorcycle I'd... I'd... erm... probably spend a year or two teaching her how to ride and how to check it over and invent a luggage system. I'd wouldn't let her ride it though! Except for perhaps a little trip around Scotland, and The Netherlands, maybe Northern Spain too. She'd only be allowed to ride with me! Ha, yeah, except when she goes out on jollies with a bunch of other lady riders or to meet random friends. No, terrible idea.

She's gotten over 50,000 miles under her wheels now. Shocking.

Mr Douglas does have a way with words don't he. I can't imagine a life without motorcycles and I enjoy riding now as much as I did when I was 18, more so in some ways.
16/03/2021 19:59:35 UTC

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