It's Highly Addictive
I was 18 when I bought my first motorcycle. As a complete novice to the sport, I made the wise decision of purchasing the fastest, flashiest bike my money could buy. It was a 2005 Honda CBR600RR with a limited edition “Repsol” scheme. There was minor damage from being knocked over by one of the previous owners, but I didn’t care at all. It was a beautiful thing. It had a respectable 95 odd horsepower (at least when it was brand new), a full stainless Akrapovic exhaust system, a Motion-Pro throttle, steel-braided brake lines, and beautifully CNC machined rear-sets, GP style. [Editor’s note: translated for those of us who don’t speak bike, it was a nice bike.] It was the first bike I bothered to take out for a test spin, but one week after falling in love with the machine and a $4000 settlement later, there she was, sitting in the garage.
My riding skills progressed every day, and when I say every day, I mean every single day. After so many years of mentally practicing the motions (roll off throttle, pull in clutch, kick shifter, release clutch, roll on throttle, repeat), when it came to my first ride, it was quite uneventful. I am proud to say I never once stalled it. I became addicted to the thrill of building revs and the mind-altering speed that ensued. I would catch myself ticking eighty in a forty-five before screaming “Oh shit,” then laughing and doing it all over again. A few months in, I was dragging knee and blipping the throttle every chance I could. Was I a MotoGP rider in the making, or just another squid with “intermediate syndrome?” Most likely the latter, but I sure felt like Marc Marquez blitzing the grid whenever I pulled away from a stop light.
Riding in Los Angeles, I have explored almost every nook and cranny the surrounding mountains have to offer. I recorded more miles on my first bike in one month than I told the insurance company I was going to ride in the whole year. I have had my fair share of close encounters and been fortunate enough to ride away from one accident that could have easily ended my life. Any rider that has been down will tell you every day is a battle just to keep the rubber on the tarmac. It’s this daily battle that pushes me to improve my skills, so I can ride on to the next day.
Motorcycling for me is much more than just a mode of transport or a fun weekend escape. It is an obsession like none I have ever had before. I have yet to find anything that can replicate the feeling of diving into an apex, yanking my entire body off the edge of the seat towards the pavement, then wailing the throttle open on the exit. It’s creeping up to that elusive edge of traction that keeps things exciting. It’s the realization that, if I make one minor error, it could cost my life. There are very few experiences in life that force me to be more present in the moment than ripping through the canyons. I am only focused on how much grip I have to play with and what is on the other side of the corner.
When I close the throttle for a more leisurely ride, motorcycling takes on a whole different form. With my butt centered firmly on the seat, hands resting gently on the bars, the roads effortlessly flow wherever I turn my head. Landscapes open up to views that would otherwise be obstructed by roof lines and door jams. Smells waft in and out with every corner and elevation changes are felt through minor but apparent temperature fluctuations. There is no other vessel that I have found that gives me the sense of freedom that a motorcycle provides. Whether I am riding in the city or the countryside, every unexplored road is a possibility for adventure. When I strap on my helmet and crank the ignition, I never know quite where that adventure will lead, but I am certain I will be in for a wild ride.