by Andrew “Wookie” Longshaw.

Note from Paolo Volpara. We had a common history with an old April Caponord and we rode together in Turkey several times. Andrew is a a free thinker and this freedom reflects in the way he rides and the way he design training programs or touring rides. As a free thinker Andrew perceives no limits and sometime he goes over the limits that he does not perceive. Good lateral thinker is reluctant to publish and, I must admit, I had to force him to get this essay. A strange one, with many level of reading, promoting inquisitive mind (Flat Earth ?), responsible individualism (Agnostic ?) and joy of living (Biking ?). Comments and takings would be deeply appreciated

So, I can hear the scratching of heads. What joins these three together? It is Denial.

And how does this effect your riding? Again, it is Denial. Or more a case of Hopeful Denial bordering on the clutching of straws.

Firstly, it is best to declare that I’m all three, Biker- Agnostic -Flat Earther , of the above. 

A Biker? 

I have been riding almost 40 years. I ride currently a 2017 BMW R 1200 GS Rallye and cover about 10 K miles a year give or take a bit. 

I’m an Observer for the London Advanced Motorcyclists, an IAM group. I’m a road rider. 

I enjoy day rides, short ‘raids’ and longer tours throughout Europe. 

Next to the riding, the finding and plotting of devious routes is probably my second hobby.

An Agnostic? 

Agnosticism’ is the view that the existence of God, of the divine or the supernatural is unknown or unknowable. Another definition provided is the view that human reasoning / thought is incapable of providing sufficient rational grounds to justify either the belief that God exists or the belief that God does not exist. 

And why am I not an ‘Atheist’? Because the Atheist would have you believe that they know the answer and that there is no God. They are certain of it. So, for an Atheist biker there is only one outcome when it all goes horribly wrong through their favourite set of bends one Sunday morning:  “You can’t call on God to intervene as you know there is no God, so you will crash and die”.

The Agnostic thinks and acts differently: when the bike goes out of control and the brain panics and body prepares for pain, the Agnostic starts praying to Deity.. Mother Earth. Father Time. In fact, anyone who will listen! And maybe God may just decide to take pity on you and do what is required to prevent an ambulance moment. 

But the Agnostic is not relying on God or a Rule Book. In fact, I would state that Rules are made for those who can’t think for themselves. As is God – or the lack of a God – a way to blame someone else for what is happening. “God, why did you not stop my crash?” from the believers. “I will crash as there is no God to save me“, from the unbelievers. As an Agnostic I try not to bother God and hopefully God won’t bother me. But come the moment, I will try anything and if it works I will say thank you and give a bit of payback when a good deed is required. 

So, having survived either by riding out of the incident or simply crashing, the Hopeful Denial can be started. Self-Evaluation is never easy. Admitting stupidity and learning from it in order not to repeat another day is even harder. 

Surely, flat and turtles all the way down…

I had no idea about Flat Earthers until a few years when, riding through Scotland, I saw graffiti proclaiming, “The Earth is Flat”, “Wake up the Earth is Flat”, “Research Flat Earth” or just plain old “Flat Earth”. 

Now for those of you who have not been to Scotland it is many things, but flat is not one of them. So, I was intrigued and searched on the Web for ‘Flat Earth’. And much to my amazement there is a Flat Earth Societythat in very base terms argues that the world is flat and not a globe.  

Within the broader Flat Earth movement there are various sub diversions. Some are based on religious beliefs. Then there are the conspiracy theorists. Then there are those who just want to think “outside the box”. Now this is where Bikers come in. 

While the Globes (believers that the planet is a globe) way of thinking is often correct it has one fatal flaw: it is rigid. It is the only way. The Flat Earthers will question what to others may be the only answer. That is not because they know that the Globe theory is wrong and that the Earth is in fact flat, it is more that there could be another answer. And this is why I define myself as one of the Flat Earthers

It is not that I believe the Earth is flat, but that I wish to question what I’m told before accepting the ‘fact’ or cobble together my own answer. So back to the riding. 

The Globe extremist will stick rigidly to these limits, eyes glued to the numbers on the speedo regardless of the ‘appropriate speed’ for the road/rider at that moment.  

A Flat will look at the road conditions and adjust the speed. This may mean that on occasions the limit will be broken…and sometimes The Man has imposed a limit that is simply not appropriate. 

So as a Biker who is an Agnostic Flat Earther there is one ultimate Denial that reduces all my learning and practising of skills to a vain attempt to clutch at straws as the ultimate Truth suddenly arrives. No one gets out alive.

Wookie 18/06/2020

By Paolo Volpara

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