When I was young, I read a book called Animal Farm. This book chronicled the rise of animals on a farm and how they revolted against the humans – their mantra was “Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad!” (or “baaaaaad”, as was the case with some of the sheep).
Seeing the book in the library today, it got me thinking about that mantra. Except that it wasn’t exactly those words I was thinking of but more in terms of wheels and transportation. You see, although I get around mostly in my car, I also own a motorcycle. Actually, it’s a scooter (and if you want to be more specific, it’s a Vespa).
Whenever I talk about it, people always tell me how dangerous it is to ride a bike, how it’s unsteady and how when a person rides a bike, he’s covering the bike as opposed to having a car cover you when you drive. I also always hear things like, “What happened to your car? How come you got a bike?” and when I tell them nothing happened to my car, it’ll beg the inevitable response of, “Then why do you ride a bike for?”
That’s a good question.
Why do I choose to ride a bike?
Is it really, “Four Wheels Good, Two Wheels Bad?”
I guess since I was a kid and I got my first taste of life on two wheels on a BMX bicycle, I was hooked. From there I progressed on to moutain bikes (I even raced professionally once, a long long time ago in what seemed like a galaxy far far away) and then motorcycles. To me, driving was something that people did but riding was a skill – it wasn’t something everyone could do. Driving didn’t involve balance and physical control; to me, driving was always more like using a computer. You have a control panel which you operate and the car moves based on what instructions you give. Now I know a lot of hardcore drivers will disagree with me here but you can’t argue that on a day-to-day basis, that’s what driving is. No one is drifting on their way to work, people don’t do 180s on hairpin turns going out to lunch. Most people just drive straight, turn left and right, reverse and stop.
Riding, on the other hand, requires pure concentration. It requires balance, confidence and physical control. If I’m taking a corner, I have to know where my weight’s going to be or I’ll go off course. If I don’t concentrate, I’ll lose control of the bike and maybe have a nasty accident. And there’s also centrifugal inertia, the basic principle that governs riding a bike; the faster you go, the more stable you’ll be.
My point is, riding is an specialized activity and driving is something we all will eventually do. You can’t zone out on a bike the way you can while driving.
Sure, there’s no air-conditioning.
Sure, there’s no radio.
And sure, if it rains, it’s a real bitch.
So why do I do it then?
Because I like the wind in my face. I like the feeling of the rumbling beneath me as I ride. I like the fact that I’m out in the open, nothing surrounding me, the world an inch away from wherever I stretch my hand out. I like the feeling of the open road, the feeling that anywhere, anytime, anything is possible. It’s hard to describe (and I’m doing a shitty job of it, I know), but I feel it whenever I get on the bike and it feels like nothing else in this world.
And that’s why I do it.
So … Four Wheels Good, Two Wheels Bad?
All I can say is …
Feels real good to be real bad 🙂