Posted by Hakan Erman
If “what’s the price of your bike?” and “how fast it goes?” are the most frequent (and banal) questions asked to bikers, “bikes give you freedom” could be the most misused axiom.
In the minds of many, bike ownership leads to freedom and when I am expected to make a comment on this I simply agree, shake my head and move on.
More than anything, bikers are social beings. We like to hang out, kick tyres, plan trips and ride together. So I did a lot of that and it has been nice. We shared our experiences, met our best friends and felt as part of a community. Therefore, most of my covered distance has been with a passenger and/or a number of fellow riders.Did bike set me free? In fact, there is very little room for free will in a group ride. You constantly feel the pressure to stick to the plan, adjust your pace, distance, position to the others, have to buy gas or stop when other riders want, keep going when you actually want to stop and so on.
I recently decided to go after “freedom on bike” alone on Honda Africa Twin. I gave no promises, made no reservations, just set my starting and ending points. Even my basic camping gear was at my disposal to set me free from bed searching.
Oh boy, it was embarrassingly strange to have so many choices of alternative roads, speed, stopping or moving, sightseeing etc.
While I was reminding myself that this was the whole point, taking decisions just for every moment was almost impossible. My mind was craving for some kind of plan, a goal. My “social brain” started suggesting to take and share tempting photos for others’ approval. I resisted that, but was craving for a meaning and a plethora of choices didn’t feel so great after all.
Choices some how lined up and I found my way forward. That evening I camped near beautiful Salda lake, just as I had imagined I would one day, while passing by in some group ride. I took my time in the morning on the beach and watched the sun putting on its show. Then I rode around the lake, set my eye on a mountain peak for the challenge and got there. Small plans were setting in, a tour here, going up there or something for the next day.
I remembered that I wanted to get lost between those volcanoes and frozen lava spills and there was never time nor motivation of my friends. So I traveled “deep” there, to the point where I needed to sent GPS location to a friend, just in case I could not get out.
Free just to follow the dance of the road, corner after corner, ready for the next one with always something to do next. While “dancing”, I learned a thing or two about freedom and how much of it my mind needed.
Absolute freedom is like a myth and I should not desire it. Mind only operates and is relaxed when there is a plan of some sort. In fact, I would not be able to start my engine without some type of restraint on freedom.
So the next time someone makes comment about biking and freedom, I will probably think that bikes are dangerous, true, but they offer more choices than usual. Just set your line through them and enjoy, follow freely your “free plan”. And keep shaking head when you read “born to be free”