Get Set for the Longest Ride

from Hakan Erman

Until recently, if you needed to get your bike washed in Istanbul, you had to convince a car washer. Not only to accept servicing a motorcycle but also to let you use the pressure washer which was always too powerful and would certainly put water into unintended parts.

Luckily, we now have specialised motorcycle washers. While they take care of your machine properly, you can enjoy a biker friendly environment and even get socialised with other bikers.

The last time I visited my favourite bike wash, Rider Cafe Moda, I was enjoying my coffee and the opportunity to salute and observe different ways on two wheels. Some reminded me my own excitement and enthusiasm I had earlier, some were following different paths.

A green Harley Davidson Road King rode in, with monkey bars and a decent amount of chrome bits and pieces, including the helmet and wallet chain. The rider at early 40’s, although looking as if he was hanging down the tall bars, was very competent in manoeuvring and parking his half-a-ton ride.

It was an early model but very well maintained. “I think my HD is still young at hundred thousand kilometres. I aim for another 100k on this one”, the rider explained as we chat. I respected him as he spoke being someone who chose his way, enjoyed getting good at it and looked well ahead as we all should.

And then a group on naked bikes showed up. Machines and 20 year old riders were all in black. Their pipes were loud and it looked like they were enjoying the noise as they took their time parking. We said hi and they sat at the next table. They were just back from a ride and were excited to comment on it. Their conversation was basically about who was going at what speed at which section and their positions on the road. They were describing a race, a game of daring, being the man of the road.

I could see their angle. I felt similarly arrogant at young age. Being the man of the road seemed like a big deal, so big that I could shut down the alarms of survival instinct. I was lucky for remaining safe, while some got hurt, even perished.

How could I reach out to them? Which short words could they hear from me that would stick with at least one of them and perhaps make a positive change? They must have heard a thousand times that they must ride safely, from their families who must be more or less my age. Their alarms are put off so are their ears. They now need to exceed their limits and prove their worth. Being better only meant being in front. Aren’t we all mainly driven by our primitive impulses while our conscious is like a midget on the back of a bison? The midget can potentially change their course but only with awareness, discipline and method.

While searching for the proper approach, a lesson from the old days presented itself. It was early 2000’s, when Paolo Volpara was lecturing on motorcycle theory. He was explaining how different our attitudes were towards short or long rides; a ride to the cafe near-by versus a trip to Athens. We tend to take long trips seriously, get properly armoured, plan ahead, be prepared and choose a proper pace. Short trips and familiar roads however were the scenes of most accidents according to the ‘Hurt Report’.

So I reached out. We broke the ice with bike models and types, different worlds of cruisers, enduros and street fighters. Then we talked about the need for speed, urge for racing. They were defensive, blaming their absent buddy to be the crazy one. The rest were barely keeping up! Then I said I would suggest them another kind of race. The kind that they could keep on for as long as they were fit to ride. “It is an endurance race. You can set the goal: for example 500k in 50 years. Aim that and not only you will be racing all your life, but also you will need to get prepared, be disciplined and always get better.” Silence followed which is always a good sign. Then we talked other things.

My bike was now shiny clean and ready to go. As I was getting ready to leave, one of the boys stayed close, and asked how my 21” front tyre behaved in corners. And just before my ignition, he said “an endurance race for a life time… I liked the idea”. That comment put a grin on my face for the rest of the day.

Oscar Wilde said “The best thing to do with good advice is to pass it on”. In fact, learning and passing it on may well be the point of life.

“And what about (parallel ride) to extend the idea of “endurance race for a life time” to the goals that each of us targets: what about extending the time for reaching the goal or considering whether the goal we have in mind is enduring and worth (valid for) a long hard race?”

One thought on “Get Set for the Longest Ride

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  1. Great thinking about long term targets and the preparedness needed to reach them. Maybe one of today limits is that we like to fix short terms objectives to be reached immediately and we do not have the patience and the wisdom to look further ahead and to judge ourselves over longer periods. Worth a second consideration and a link with the HD guys aiming to 200000 miles in the same vehicle. It could be a great expansion of a diary element into ethic and a life invasion of the “raise your vision” bike mantra.
    To be consider as well the discharge if adrenalin at the “young riders” table.
    Excitement after the ride often reveals FEAR during the ride. It always surprise me how happy are the bikers to stop doing what they were out for. Dear of riding and fear of the bike is a good observation point.

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