Without the staunch support of my Steel Horse, upon which I rode this and many mornings like it, the trek to work would’ve been hell. Proof in the pudding; I’ve oft twittered my commuting misfortunes on the days I’ve chanced and choose to be imprisoned in my cage (i.e. car, granted, a generally ok incarceration.)
The short and sweet of this tale is that, I save time, money and incur less stress by playing the advanced version of the commuter game. It should really be no wonder that fellow bikers salute one another as it requires drive and courage to get to this level.
Each morning I ride, I must ensure that I depart early enough to value safety over the en-route time – a moronic concept but a truth nonetheless. It’s a treacherous trip as any (freeway) ride “horse back” is, but with the additional dangers inherent with traffic.
That traffic congestion consists of amass of cages, driven by people who consider the risk and/or the effort to ride too great. Naturally, that established logic rarely, if ever, occurs to that stated majority as I glide oh-so effortlessly past them. I speak of exploiting the “center lane”, that space between cars which is essentially uninhibited by cage congestion. Some admire and many curse the freedom riders in California embrace.
First, the good ones: I am particularly grateful to the cagers who utilize their turn signals. That split second is all but effortless when compared to the tremendous value added by the act. There are also those who shift to the other side of their lane, giving me a bit more space. Though whether it’s out of fear or courtesy is on a case by case basis. In any case, while I appreciate the sentiment, for the most part the move is largely unnecessary.
Occasionally, enough of them will see me and perform this act that I can’t help but feel like a nobleman amongst surfs. Like a King or an honorable knight riding high while the little surfs scurrying from out my path. Like oil floating atop water. Like Moses parting the red sea. Yeah, it can be that sweet.
And then, there are those who embody utterly anti-altruistic personas, exhuming disrespect with each conscious-less intrusion. These are the type to dart in and out of traffic in a desperate and generally futile attempt to get ahead of the next cage. These cagers are the most distressing enemies I face. Their impertinence could turn fatal consequences.
My defense is three parts: reflexes, skills as a rider and abilities to identify patterns before being absorbed and overtaken by one, and my gear. My offenses, and possibly my Horse’s most treasured traits are: superior acceleration, breaking and handling. True, there are sport-cages that could handily out accelerate my fairly lowly Suzuki 650cc engine, but they are far and few between.
When not in traffic, I gladly let those cagers and others pass by when the pressure I sense from them is at all unruly. That feeling, fueled by observation, is usually an obvious ass-riding. Do the folks in those cages realize if they hit me I almost certainly die? Torn and thrown from my Horse, the body becomes as brittle as a twig under the exertion of high speed.
Of course, that extreme case is why I wear full barrage protection; I’ve got the whole get-up. When fully geared up, I feel like a Knight. The “Suit of Armor” is a little heavy, a little hot, but would definitely improve my chances at survival in the unlikely and extraordinarily unfortunate incidence of accident. I don’t wear the traditional Harley leather however, my equipment is mostly made up of a heavy duty nylon composite, e.g. my pants. Whist suited up, I could take on a bear.
It’s not all roses and fantastic MPG, I’ve been thrown, once, too. And I wasn’t wearing all the gear I wear now. I was lucky though, my noble steed took all of the damage. It was a low speed incident, caused by loose gravel, an overzealous throttle and a brief swaying of focus. It was a solid blow to my pride however. My formerly immaculate beast forever scared by one split second of stupidity.
By far and away, I thoroughly enjoy owning and riding a motorcycle. I can’t imagine not having it for the freedom it grants are well worth the risks to ride.
At some point I will work up a cost-to-own post, outlining all the physical costs of my riding career.