Do not go back to basic. Think forward

Bikers, like wolves, live in pack and, like ancient hero, like to build stories and legends.

To do so, one needs to revive memories going through notes and papers, pictures, clips and memorabilia visiting in mind friends, roads, places and travels. It is a self-indulging exercise and it could easily turn in grumbling memories of oldies or, worst, in glorification of the past, when “everything was better than today”.

 As Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote “I have learned that everyone wants to live at the top of the mountain, without knowing that real happiness is in how it is scaled” And I can see how the mountain-past was scaled: faces emerge from badly taken pictures, still snapshots of fast-moving rides: you see pilots chatting, smoking, smiling to the camera; fuelling bikes or caught in embarrassing calls of nature. Few pictures capture the dynamic of the ride… no time, no interest or, in pre-Go-Pro, no tools. But you can see and feel in the eyes the miles covered and the emotions experienced, the landscapes crossed, the times shared.

Looking at pictures and diaries of travels, it easy to understand that each ride reproduces life with exalting moments and depressing difficulties; the joy of tracing lines in bright sunshine goes together with the accident around the corner. The pleasure of friendship and camaraderie turns bitter with intruding egos and absurd competition. Biking is a good mixture of the shining and dark sides of humanity.

All this rapidly turns into a “way we were” and it is easy to turn nostalgic, to start “longing for or thinking fondly of a past time or condition”.

Dreaming of the past is a bad sign or a bad habit: dreams should be reserved only for the future, for the good time that always (in a way or another) lays ahead.

Recently I received a message saying that in our thinking and acting we need to “go back to basic”: you know the phrase and you probably received the same suggestion several times. When you hear “go back to basic” your attention goes to “basic” that, in many form, sound goods; it is the “go back” that reveals the negative of this attitude. Every time I get a call to “return to basic” I can hear a lost desire for progress, a scepticism about the capacities that human have to search for better, to constantly improve knowledge and practice.

There is now, in motorcycling, a nostalgic trend toward scramble – chopped- down to earth bikes fuelling a new wave of consumption for vehicles, accessories and gear that look 1980 basic: it is fun and sometime aesthetically pleasing while revealing at the same time the profound cultural crisis of a portion of the western society in search for past models.

Basic bikes of the past were mostly unreliable, with week brakes, leaking oil, difficult to handle and with weak chassis: valid as collector’s items not as models to reproduce.

Looking at the past should be done to take lessons for the present and to move ahead in a better future. And the “looking back” always give strength to progress ahead.

By Paolo Volpara

"Si sta come d'autunno sugli alberi le foglie"

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