There are a lot of things I like about riding a bike. Most are probably the same things that people reading this will like. The freedom of just you and the machine and the road you're riding on; I like that. I also like the power and performance; even a relatively low-powered bike will have performance that significantly exceeds that of the family Camry or Commodore. I also like being in the environment; feeling the different air-temperatures, smelling the trees on a country ride; things that when you're in a car, all sealed-up with the air-con going, you are completely cut off from. I like the sensation of riding a twisty road; the black ribbon of bitumen snaking it's way under your wheels as you gently (or not so gently!) lean left, then right, then left, then... But one of the things I like most about riding is the anonymity.
This is particularly relevant for an old bloke! In a car you are instantly recognisable for what you are (or perhaps more accurately, what you are perceived to be). The car is the first thing. It instantly categorises you. Family wagon, 4-cylinder mid-sizer, dinky run-about; whatever it is you are driving is instantly identifiable and puts you in a certain category. And then there is the fact that people can see you; in reasonable detail if they're close enough. Bad thing for an old bloke! They see your face, the way you're dressed, your graying hair; and they know straight away that you're an old bloke. But on a bike you are anonymous!
Well, okay, not in all cases. Certain bikes will tend to categorise you in the same way that cars do. If you ride a big Harley, or perhaps a trailie, or a little scooter, then yes, you are instantly categorised! And if your riding-jacket has a huge skull-and-crossbones painted on it, then I suppose that tends to categorise you too! But I'm talking here about more "normal-average-looking" road bikes; with, I suppose, more "normal-average-looking" riders. Bikes like that look much the same, to most people anyway. Most non-bikers wouldn't know the difference between a learner-250 and a Hyabusa. They're both just motorbikes. And you're just a motorcyclist. They can't see what you look like under the helmet and riding jacket. When I'm on a bike I could be a cool 20-something dude, or a doddery old-fart; no-one knows! And I like that! Because things happen that probably wouldn't happen if they could see you more clearly.
I'll give you an example. Recently I was riding along a suburban multi-lane, beside a car with a young kid in the back. The kid was probably about 10, and was watching the bike, face pressed against the window, as I rode along beside him. Now the bike I was on was nothing special, just a mid-size sports-tourer, but when I looked over at the car, he gave me a big "cool-bike!" smile with a thumbs-up approval. I bet he didn't know what sort of bike it was; and I bet he didn't know I was old enough to be his grandfather! To him I was probably a way-cool guy riding a way-cool bike! Anonymity - I love it!
And even to other bikers, there is still a level of anonymity. If you're riding one of these "average-looking" sort of road-bikes there isn't an instant recognition as to what bike you're on. Especially out on the highway, with an approach-speed of say 200kph (two bikes travelling towards each other at 100kph each), your bike isn't immediately recognised as a particular type, make and model; it's just another bike. And you're just another rider. So you get a friendly nod, and give one in return. Camaraderie; I love it! And it exists because you are another rider; nothing else. You aren't old or young, you're just another rider. All the other rider sees is the helmet and jacket; they don't see the gray hair or the cardigan underneath! Anonymity - I love it!
Of course, if you ride in company with other people - especially other bikers - for long enough, some of that anonymity gets stripped away. Partly by the bike you're riding, but mostly by the way you ride. Most old blokes tend to ride just a little differently to boy-racer-Valentino-wannabes! Maybe that's why I like riding alone. I can cruise around the 4-wheelers, look cool to impressionable young kids, nod to passing bikes, and feel completely ageless. Yep, anonymity; it's one of the things I love about riding a bike!
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