Photo by George Lauby
Huff on his Harley Soft Tail Custom.
Riding isn't something people have to do, but rather feel compelled to -- for a wide variety of reasons ranging from passion to practicality.
No other form of motoring feels like motorcycling and the feel of being at one with the machine is the purest way to get from one place to another. Even the risks involved heighten the excitement and enjoyment.
Robert Pirsig said it best in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values, a 1974 philosophical novel. Pirsig said, "You’re completely in contact with it all. You’re in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming.”
What is it about the open road that bikers love? There are many reasons that are common to riders as well as, probably, just as many individual reasons.
Each rider who owns a motorcycle, and loves all that it means, has personal reasons to experience life from a biker's view. Common reasons include the excitement and adrenaline rush that comes from the starting of the engine, its sound and riding along feeling the power.
There are the whirs, clicks, and rattles of being so close and part of the machine. Instead of being shut-in like a car, a rider becomes one with their bike and one with their surroundings. On a motorcycle, the rider feels the wind in their face, the sun coming up and the chill of evening.
They can smell the pine trees, the salty sea air and the fresh cut hay. Sometimes even the sting of rain is a thrill. All five senses become part of riding on a bike.
North Platte has long been a town with riders of all sorts. Some have formed clubs that hold events -- helping charities and causes, getting together for poker runs, hog roasts and so forth, sometimes just for the fun and camaraderie.
Others are "Lone Wolf" types that ride simply for the love of it and show up at events too.
From one extent to another, in each person there is a desire to take off down a new road and experience adventure, see sights they have never seen before, to break away from the everyday schedule of work and appointments.
There are some that achieve this by going on a road trip in a car. Then there are others who choose to take off on a road trip on a motorcycle.
If you're a rider you know all about "the wave," the pointed finger or wave of the hand that acknowledges another rider as he or she passes.
Motorcyclists feel they belong to a community, and that gives them something in common; we share a bond that sets us apart from the rest of the motoring world. In spite of the fact that motorcyclists are a part of a big group, we also tend to be more individualistic than the next person.
Whether that's expressed through our personal style or the way we trick out our bikes, motorcycling can be an outlet through which we reveal our personalities.
There are few ways to escape that compare to getting on your Hog, Scooter, Sled or whatever nickname you have for your bike, firing up the engine and letting the sense of freedom transport you. You may have a destination, but the ride is the best part of it all.
Whether or not you care about your carbon footprint, the fact is that motorcycles are efficient forms of transportation that minimally impact the environment. And even if you ride just for the thrill of it, there's nothing wrong with being a little kind to Mother Nature every once in a while.
You can smirk at the gas pump and strut across the parking lot just after you have found a spot to park in a space where four-wheeled "cages" have no chance.
Many businesses even have designated bike parking and tolerate bikers using the small striped areas at the ends of rows that are normally closer to the door than even handicapped parking. Running errands on a bike is faster, easier and a lot more fun. In and around larger cities, bikes are allowed in most car pool lanes. In Texas, California and Virginia, motorcycles are actually allowed to split the lanes (drive in between lanes).
Chances are that a bike will get you where you're going faster and you will arrive more exhilarated than in a car. And, let's face it -- bikes are cool. When you walk into a restaurant with helmet under arm, wearing your favorite old leathers, you walk with a bit of a swagger and a sense of cool that you don’t get when you roll up in a car.
There are those who have ridden for most of their lives, while others are new, joining the ranks. Many choose to ride for the sheer pleasure and adventure, some just for the lower fuel bills, and then they also become addicted.
Others are living out a dream and enjoying living a life of freedom and travel. Whatever the reasons, most end up saying they should have done it sooner.
Whatever a person’s reasons for getting a bike, they experience the world from a different perspective than others do, or even could, until they hear and feel the engine of a motorcycle and let it take them toward the horizon.