One of the great things about riding a motorcycle is the tie that all motorcyclist enjoy. Yeah, I am one of those guys that waves, to every motorcycle rider I see, even if it is a guy on a scooter. Why, because I love the fact that a perfect stranger and I have something so close in common. Riding a motorcycle in modern times is not a necessity like it was in post war Europe or Japan, or as the cheapest means of transport like it was here in America. Instead you ride a motorcycle now, because you love it. You like to live life just a little bit different. I am not saying all people who ride are hard core bad ass people. I mean I am an elementary school teacher, but rather we live life by a different set of rules, and that unites us. You can almost always count on a fellow motorcyclist stoping to help you out if you are stuck, you can always count on another rider giving you parts or gear, for free, just because you need it and they got it. You can always count on at least one good story every time you stop and talk to someone.
I bring this up because just the other day I was getting on the IMS Triumph Tiger 800XC when a old man walks up to me and starts talking. I needed to get home, it had been a long day and my wife had to deal with a 4 year old and a 2 year old for the last 12 hours alone, so you can see my hurry. Well this particular old man had started the conversation by asking about the bike, saying he had seen me on the freeway and really wanted to talk to me about the bike and was glad that we ended up in the same place at the same time. When I explained to him the bike, the engine, and all the add ons, his smile just kept getting bigger. You see back when he was in college, one summer he bought a brand new, Triumph 650 Bonneville Twin Carb, and rode it from Pittsburgh up into Canada, along the Trans-Canadian Highway, down to LA in California. Seeing me on this Triumph really brought back those memories, it was almost as if he had just gotten of the bike in LA all over again. It was really something else to see this bond between the two of us. We had never meet before, and probably never will meet again, but I had found in this old man, and he in I, an instant friendship that you just don’t get with other people. Now, I have never done a ride like he mentioned, and it will probably never happen for me, but each time I swing a leg over that bike, each time I fire up that 800cc Triple and hear the purr of that exhaust, I am making memories that I will hold onto for a lifetime. And one day I will be that old man, telling some young kid about how I used to have this hopped up Triumph and how I rode it everywhere, off road and on. It will be at that point that I connect with a person in a way that I just wont be able to connect with someone who doesn’t ride. And that kid will do the same thing one day himself.
This kind of experience is something else, it is something that few understand, and it is something that I hope to pass on to generations to come.
So today, take the time and wave at a fellow rider, stop and talk for a minute, help them out on the side of the road, you never know when you will make a life long friend that you never had before. So go make a friend and get out and ride.
So yesterday I went for a Mountain Bike ride near where I live. It is a nice network of trails that involves a good amount of climbing with equal amounts of descent so that even if you work like a dog going up hill you still get that reward of going downhill to balance it out. On this particular day I didn’t have a ton of time to go ride, maybe about an hour, and I am not in great physical shape endurance wise so it takes me longer then I would want to climb up, so I knew I would have to do a short ride. After climbing the roughly 1.5 miles of single track up I rode a little ways on a dirt road and then took a different roughly 1.5 miles of different single track down. As I came to the second single track I noticed the sign on the trail. It was a typical trail sign with the typical warning and safety labels on it. It let me know that hikers and equestrians could be on this trail as well as other mt. bikers and that I could adopt this trail, and to pick up after my dog, that sort of thing. It was the second to last picture that really got to me (I circled it in black so that you could see it) it is a picture that is being seen more and more on all kinds of trails. It is the Dirt Bike with the red crossed out circle around it, you know what I mean.
This I have seen around a lot, and frankly for the most part, it is not a problem, I honestly don’t want to be ridding my Mt. Bike or have my wife jogging on a trail that is in the middle of town like this one, and have to worry about being ran over or ran into by a guy on a dirt bike on twisty narrow single track like I like to ride on my Mt. bike. And honestly I think that it is ok for trails to be designated for only specific activities, as long as it doesn’t go overboard and as long as it stays that way. What I mean by that is if it is a Dirt bike trail, don’t let a few overzealous equestrians or environmentalist shut it down just because they don’t like it. Rather, let the trails stay open as they have been for a long time.
Secondly I feel that we should have designated off road trails for dirt bikes that are for dirt bikes. Hikers, mt. bikers, equestrians, and the like should stay off, that way we all get what we want.
What I find to be really different about these particular trails is the fact that I personally know the guys from back in the late 70’s and 80’s who made these trails on their dirt bikes. Like I said before I don’t mind that these trails don’t allow dirt bikes, even though they made them, as the town I live in has a huge mt. biking culture and we need a safe, local place to ride. What bothers me is the closing of Dirt bike riding areas that have been dirt bike riding areas and nothing but dirt bike riding areas since their creation. If hikers, and joggers, and mt. bikers, and equestrians aren’t using the area because it is dirt bike only, then leave it alone, don’t shut it down for them. Dirt bike and off road motor sports participants need a place to ride, and when these places get shut down it only encourages more and more people to start riding in areas that they shouldn’t, this then makes non off road enthusiasts angry and in turn shuts down even more riding areas, causing people to ride where they shouldn’t and it just becomes a vicious circle. Some of you remember a while back when the State of California tried to all but remove riding areas completely and if it wasn’t for a band of very determined off road enthusiasts they would have succeeded, we don’t need that to happen again.
Now my four yeas of living on the big island of hawaii with very limited riding areas has taught me a few things, the most important was to stick to the trails. We were in constant danger of trails be shut down because someone decided he didn’t like the trail that was there and wanted to go ride where he wanted to ride. I firmly believe that we need more trails for dirt bikes and quads to ride, and the more designated trails we have the less there is going to be people destroying non-riding areas, and everybody is happy.
I guess in the end what I am trying to say is we need to take care of what we got, petition correctly not angrily for more riding areas, and be responsible with the land that isn’t ours. If not we will see more and more signs like the one above popping up everywhere and eventually the only place we will have to ride is our imagination.