We know why we do it, we know why we are at our happiest when we are inches away from the asphalt that promises cheap but not very good plastic surgery if we get it wrong. We know why we like to travel at stupid speeds, knowing that a moments distraction or a small failure can be life ending. We know why we risk life and limb travelling on the same roads as those who are distracted by their lives and yet insist on driving their cars. We know, and thousands of words and hundreds of memes have tried to explain it, so I guess it must be my turn now!
The best way I can describe why I ride is to describe a moment in my life, a moment that from the outside would look like less than nothing, and yet it has stayed with me, crystal clear for some twenty years.
I was riding back from visiting friends on the other coast of England, a ride of about four hundred miles. It was summer, nice and warm, but not too much so and I was happy cutting through the traffic enjoying a fine ride that I knew was about to end as I was heading for a stretch of motorway. I hate motorways, they are great for getting you from A to B but they are soulless, spirit sapping and boredom inducing and just what you don’t need when you are having fun. The slip road came up all too soon but as I joined the motorway I knew that I now had just 100 miles to go before I reached home. So there I was, 90mph, eating the miles, the drone of the bike the soundtrack to the ride as I sailed past the cars…life in the fast lane heading towards where the sun would set in a few hours’ time.
I remember passing under a sign post that spanned the whole motorway and as I past under I thought, “Now would be a really good time to die”!
It wasn’t a morbid or suicidal thought, it was just a realization that life was pretty much perfect at that moment and so if I was to shuffle off my mortal coil, I would do so in peace and serenity, content in the knowledge that it was not going to get any better than this, I was just happy!
I know there are many possible reasons why I arrived in that state of mind. It is probable that tiredness, the monotony of the motorway and the noise of the bike engine all helped but the point is that whatever the cause I was at peace with myself and that had to be because of the added influence of being on the bike.
Whatever the reasons, I remember that sign on the motorway and that mile or two, the feeling that I felt then has stayed with me and every time I go out on my bike some part of that resurfaces. That is why I love riding my bike, that feeling of peace and wellbeing, for you it may be something else, and that is great because otherwise there would be no need for hundreds of blog posts all saying something slightly different!