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Why
By Christopher Cullen

I could feel the rumble of my motorcycle below me, its two wheels connecting me to the ground. I could hear the wind buffeting my helmet. My senses seemed sharper, more aware, more... alive. I felt content with the exception of one thing: A question that a stranger had asked me when I last stopped for coffee.

A simple question really.

"Why?"

"Why do it? Why take the risk?"

At the time, I had responded with my usual spiel. "MSF, full gear, defensive riding, blah, blah..." The truth is, motorcycling is a risk. Yes, one can minimize that risk, but it IS a risk. And one that shouldn't be taken lightly.

So I asked the question aloud to myself as I rode. It echoed in my helmet. It echoed in my mind. Why? Why do you do it? You have a wife and two children, you have friends... why take the risk? My mind was blank for a moment. Without my defensive spiel, I was at a loss. But only for a moment. And then the reasons came flooding in. Many reasons.

I only needed one.

When I was 10, my mom met a man named Jesse (who was later to become my step-father). Having been without a father since I was a baby, I was uncomfortable around him, but liked him because he treated me like a young man. I was a small, awkward kid, and picked on at school quite a bit. He helped me forget some of that.

Jesse and my mom had a date planned on a Saturday afternoon, and he asked if I'd like to come. I of course answered yes, and the three of us piled into his old, beaten-up truck and headed out. We drove in silence for about 30 minutes and then pulled into an open dirt field near the edge of town. I jumped out of the truck and noticed that Jesse was pulling the tarp off of a small mini-bike in the back of his truck. He exchanged a smile with my mom that told me this was a planned event. He pulled the bike from the truck and rolled it toward me. It was red. Without exchanging a word, I sat down on it. He asked me if I'd ever ridden before. I told him "no," thinking that by saying that I might lose my chance to ride. He just smiled and pulled a helmet from his truck. He handed it to me and said, "Well, then you'd better wear this."

I put the helmet on, and Jesse told me to steady the bike while he pulled the starter. It started on the first pull. The engine probably sounded like a small lawn mower, but to me, it sounded like magic, it sounded like a jet engine from a spy movie. Jesse gave me some instructions, looked me in the eye and asked if I was ready. My grin must have said yes. Jesse stood behind me with his hand on my shoulders. I slowly twisted the throttle and felt the bike start to move forward. Jesse ran behind me for about ten yards (until I got the nerve to put my feet on the pegs), then he let go.

Freedom is a word that has been used to death. It has been co-opted by corporations and politicians. We see it on t-shirts, underwear and tattoos. But the word... the feeling... of freedom, is REAL. And something that many people don't ever get a chance to understand.

That day, in a dirt field on the edge of town, I felt freedom. Freedom from the bullies at school, freedom from loss, freedom from self-pity, and self-doubt. When I twisted that throttle... I was free. I was ME. And I suddenly understood the word in a much bigger way. In a context that allows me, even to this day, to fully appreciate what I have in this life.

And 30 years later, on a section of open highway this is what I answered:

"Because it is a part of me. That is why I ride."

As the words echoed in my helmet, I twisted the throttle... and for that moment, I was free.

Source: Motorcycle Daily
 

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"Because it is a part of me. That is why I ride."
Yes.
But I have to admit that the night time kangaroo traffic in Aus. can be a bit exciting.

gammac
 

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good story bean.....

i too have this feeling. The part when being free when riding is undescribable especially on my beloved zx14. Feels like souring thru clouds...
 

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True True...no matter what is going on in my life when Im out on the rode it's the only time i feel stress free and can have genuine fun and escape everything....my only true escape
 

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Awsome story. I agree, riding is something that not everyone gets to experiance. Its like a brotherhood of people who understand something that isnt really describable. I too have a connection with my dad from when i was young that goes straight to motorcycles. When people ask me why, I usually say because i can.
 

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When is your book signing?!?! LOL Thats why I ride also!
 
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