The weather has turned for the worse. The snow has come down, the roads are slippery, the waterproofs and leathers are on and I’m still getting cold and wet on the bike. I’ve got months of this to look forward to and it leads me to ask exactly why I choose to ride a bike instead of drive a car.
I think there’s something passionate about riding a motorcycle. Time and time again I am asked why I do it, especially when the weather’s like this. Practically speaking, a car has many advantages, its warm, dry, safer, you can carry more passengers and gear, the list goes on. But where the car looses out is where the bike excels.
There is nothing like the thrill of having a engine screaming between your knees, gripping the bars harder to hold onto the the accelerating machine, feeling your boot scrapping the ground as you lean tight into a corner. There’s also greater physical connection to the bike. If you shift your weight to the left, the bike will lean and turn left. You’re not only guiding the machine by adjusting the controls, your body position becomes a significant element to the ride. Its a similar feeling to board riding sports, but with the capability of triple speed figures, and a ridiculous power to weight ratio literally in your hands and between your legs.
But, this changes with the weather. No longer am I looking for the fastest line, I’m searching for the safest. A good day is one where you get home safely. Rather than pushing the bike to get the best power out of a corner or the perfect overtake, I’m focused on perfect gear changing, maintaining as much grip as possible at all times, anticipating the slide.
When the temperature really drops to below freezing, things get really interesting. Now most people would leave the bike in the shed on days like this. Unfortunately I don’t have this luxury, I don’t have a car. Riding over sheets of ice with both feet on the floor to keep it upright, or ploughing through three inches of snow really teaches you control. There is a good reason for doing this. When the sun finally returns and the gritters are no longer needed, you are left with an intimate knowledge of how to control your motorcycle on a variety of grip conditions.
Not only that, but there’s a real sense of satisfaction when you arrive at the pub in your leathers, having braved the elements, earning the respect of your mates.