Friday, April 23, 2010

Why I ride

I posted a reply to a fascinating thread of discussion on the Modern Vespa forum yesterday.
The original poster, Wangta, had asked members of the forum back in 2008 when they thought riding a scooter would no longer be age-appropriate, when the risks would be inappropriate in view of one's social and personal obligations, and whether riders should be concerned with how they are perceived by their supervisors and others who have an influence on their jobs and careers. The thread is well worth reading. It says a lot about the demographics of scootering, the role that risk plays in our lives, and ultimately the human condition. The thread recently revived, and was new to me. It seems to be generating as much input now, as it did then. The topic and the reactions it gets are, after all, timeless, and cross the boundaries of all human experience. You get there by clicking here.

Posting the reply helped me to express why I ride. It's very relevant to this blog, so I'm posting it here as well, enhanced with some helpful links, and some [needed? - ed.] editorial comment.

Here is what I wrote:

I'm 57. I started riding a scooter 2 weeks ago. Until then my two wheel experience was limited to bikes.

I'm not the most accomplished rider, but I'm comfortable and happy on two wheels.

It took me nine months to convince my wife to accept my decision to commute this way.

Wangta, I respect your concern for the risk, and its potential impact on loved ones and others who depend on us.

The reason I rode 600+ kms on BIXI bikes last year, and the reason I'm riding the Vespa, is the feeling I get from the experience. It's the way gravity and G forces flow through you on two wheels. The sense of freedom it brings, the concentration it takes, the lessons and skills I am learning daily, the beauty of the scenes that open to me on my bike that I don't experience the same way in my car or on the train.

I was inspired to take this challenge by people like Steve Wiiliams, Dave Dixon, [Orin O'neill, - ed.] and you. Your blog on your cross-country trip inspired me to embark on the much more mundane adventure of riding 30kms to work each day. And 30kms back.

I contribute to this forum, and I now write a blog, because I am grateful to you, and all MV members for sharing your experience, and inspiring me to assume these risks from which I am getting so much pleasure.

Life well lived is all about the rewards we reap from the risks we take. Marriage and the risk of divorce. Children and the risk of birth defects, illness, and accidents that they entail. Applying to law school and the risk of failure and rejection. Changing jobs. Swimming and the risk of drowning. Flying and the risk of crashing.

Two years ago when I was commuting by train, I was very stressed in the wake of the bombings in Madrid [Wow, that was in 04 not 08, I was so far off - ed.] and the threats uttered against Canadians because of our troops fighting in Afghanistan.

How do we make sense of our decisions? Should we always take the safest route from A to B? Should we foresake activities that inspire us in order to avoid attendant risks?

The best that we have to offer to our community, to those who are closest to us, and to those that depend on us, is the inspiration to live life to the best of our potential, and in doing so, to inspire those same folks to do the same in turn.

Riding a Vespa to work pales compared to the recent achievements in the Vancouver Olympics, which in turn pale compared to the achievements in the Special Olympics that followed.

We are all better off for that risk taking.

I am better off for the risks you took on that trip and the risk you took in blogging about it [and the risk you took starting this thread on the forum - ed.]. Because even blogging and contributing to this forum exposes us to the risk of public disapproval and sometimes bitter criticism.

Thanks again.

1 comment:

Orin said...

David, thanks so much for the link. I'm glad you find Scootin' Old Skool useful in your riding education. As they used to say in my racing days, the key to confidence is seat time, so riding every chance you get can only make you a better, more aware rider.

Oh, and in commute traffic, I find the most effective way to get the cagers' attention is to use the horn... a lot.

Scootin' Old Skool

The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.