Saturday, 24 September 2011

Men and the Art of Motorcycle Cravings

With apologies to Robert M. Pirsig

A funny thing happened to me sometime after I turned fifty.
I suddenly wanted a motorcycle.
Was this a mid-life crisis? Almost certainly.
Did this mean that I was going to live beyond a hundred years? Who knows?
That's really not the point of this post.

I used to think the Yamaha RD350 was cool
When I was young I may have entertained the idea of riding a motorcycle. But it was never anything more than a notion. I never really thought I would become a fireman, an astronaut, a cowboy or a cop either. It's just another one of those things kids think about. Perhaps I held on to that motorcycle idea longer than most of the other ones. But I was never really serious. Too dangerous, too impractical, too upsetting to my parents; I moved on to other things. Or did I?

Many years later I became the father of two young boys myself. I remember being asked when one was very young: "Dad, how old do you have to be to ride a motorcycle?". With a totally straight face and all the sincerity only I can muster I told him: "Rob, you have to be forty". This made his mother very happy even if she lacks my ability to keep a straight face. I think she covered hers. Several years hence on the eve of my 40th birthday my words came back to haunt me, albeit in a pleasant way: "Whoa Dad! You can get a motorcycle!". But I didn't. Didn't even want one. Or did I?
Object of desire?

Fast forward 10+ years. Somewhere I see a picture of the revived Triumph Bonneville. I am smitten. Here is a retro replica of one of the classic bikes of my youth. And I want one. Which is really weird because in my youth I didn't want one. ...Or did I?

My ride as I found it at the seller

So there was some discussion at home, some understandings were reached and I took the Motorcycle Safety Course which was followed shortly thereafter by the purchase of a used Kawasaki 500EX. A "Ninja". One doesn't purchase one's dream motorcycle as their first bike. At least I don't.

So what is the point? Simple. None of my co-workers or triathlon team mates had any idea I was taking up motorcycling. As soon as I began showing up with it I learned that all kinds of guys either had a motorcycle, used to have a motorcycle and were looking forward to getting one again, or had always wanted a motorcycle and were dying to get one. So I formulated a hypothesis: All men want to have a motorcycle. An important point is, some of them may not be aware of it yet. Clearly I had harboured latent motorcycling tendencies that only surfaced in my fifties. Now I suppose it is possible that for some men these tendencies may only surface post-mortem. I am particularly proud of this corollary as it means my original hypothesis can never be disproved.

One could ask why the hypothesis applies only to men and this definitely warrants further deliberation. The easy answer would be that a significant number of women appear to disapprove of motorcycles altogether... Or do they? Couldn't this just be the best cover up? Kind of makes you go "Hmmm", doesn't it?
Equal opportunity craving?

In a future post I'll share some thoughts regarding the appeal motorcycling holds for me. I won't presume to speak for half (or all) of the rest of humanity.

1 comment:

  1. I think it's just moms who disapprove of motorcycles altogether, and only for their children. I want one. But as my 7th bike. :P