From Latin “bi-lanx”, a scale with two pans, the word “balance” plays important role in life, in nature and in motorcycling.
The dictionary definition of this simple word introduces the complexity of meanings: “an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady”
In my cemetery of forgotten world BALANCE receives a monumental tombstone as one of the virtues rapidly disappearing from common use. To the point that being balanced is, in most cases, perceived as a insult, as lack of motivation, absence of opinion: a bland way of reaching peaceful death. “Moderation (or balance)…is lukewarm tea, the devil’s own brew”
Unbalanced, unmoderated, anonymous and stolid points of view are daily served as addictive sugar coating for lack of information: exaggeration and short-sightedness replace the search for knowledge and street-testimonials replace the expert.
We want to know everything and we want to know it now: the demand of 24 hours news requires to identify “who did wrong” hours after an accident or disaster happens and any delay is presented as a conspiracy to cover the truth.
The casual passer-by becomes an instant expert in economy or politic or morality when interview on subject he/she knows nothing about. Eyewitness testimony is rarely the best source of evidence or the reliable proof of truth. Serious detectives, working on real crimes, know well the limits of balance in eyewitness. “…crimes and accidents are unusual, distinctive, often stressful, and even terrifying events, and people believe those events therefore should automatically be memorable. In fact, stress and terror can actually inhibit memory formation, and memories continue to be constructed after the originating event on the basis of information learned afterward. People underestimate how quickly forgetting can take place…” Being there is not the source of a balance report.
The unbalanced source is often anonymous covered by professional journalistic cliché: the investors, the market, the internal source, a friend of the victim, the celebrity with 200.000 follower, the one who saw everything happening… Balance keeps dying slowly but constantly and we get used to a diet of breaking news and exceptional events for unique times; balancing the meaning of what happens requires intelligence, experience, culture and time: as such is banned by the instant society.
The qualified tests of new and old motorcycles done in the past have been replaced by six minutes of blathering inside the helmet by a rider that can use a maximum of 200 words exaggerating in good or bad the “impressions & feelings” of a linear ride.
It is not by chance that with balance going out of fashion three wheelers and quads are gaining a momentum and popularity: if you do not want to refine your sense of balance (physically and mentally) you definitely and urgently need two wheels front or back in a vehicle that “behaves as a real bike”.
Adieu to balance? Not so easy. Rope walking is coming back with revenge from the old circuses to parks and gyms where this sport brings strength, fitness, agility and confidence. Most of the sports, yoga, dancing, martial arts and escalators pay homage to balance promoting “even distribution of weight “ in posture, movement and perception.
Two-wheels vehicles teach a great lesson on balance every second of use. One cannot ride without constantly search for balance. At sustained speed or at low-speed-manoeuvring, balance is the Nirvana sought even by the riders that THE BLUE GROOVE describes as “short-legged obsessed with flat footing the bike at streetlights”. We feel the balance as we progress, we perceive the momentary loss of balance and we correct, we enjoy a temporary but perfect balance of a silk cornering. And we pay always, sometime severely, when balance is lost or, to be more correct, when we lose the balance: the reality changes suddenly prospective, what was up is now down, what left is now right and we call it crashing.
Losing the “even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady” could be dramatic on a motorcycle: still we do not give importance to the fact that we often lose the even distribution of mind, emotion, knowledge in dealing with our family, neighbour, friend, peer or companion of ride.
Story goes that among the questions for the selection of Spitfire pilots at the times of the second world war two were related to motorcycling: 1. did you ride (yes/no) a motorcycle 2. are you riding (yes/no) a motorcycle now. The selected one were the one that answered “yes” to the first and “no” the second question; they had enough adventures combined with the good sense to stop it. I like to think that these two question were as well asked to ascertain a good sense of balance physically and mentally.
Balance lost against gravity is evident, risky and immediately paid for; balance lost in mind is often hidden and always fatal.
- A good reading, for bikers or would be/were bikers, is the book of Steven Thompson “Bodies in motion” with foreword of Andy Goldfine available at www.aerostich.com