DATELINE: Anytown USA - For the pulsing ecosystem of Demo Ride fans, the riders' meeting that precedes such events is a mysterious Kabuki dance of vague time-based concepts, unfamiliar customs and inflexible riding rules that are dismissed as quickly as they are spoken. The ritual distribution of keys can turn even a responsible adult, like a 7-Eleven assistant manager or former hedge-fund honcho, into a sort of machinery-abusing, clutch-fanning, mouth-breathing man-beast.
With the iron manacles of motorcycle ownership released, the Demo Ride is sort of like a steamy Girls Gone Wild! DVD-but with twisting pavement instead of writhing nubiles. (Feel free to substitute your own less appalling simile.)
Manufacturers hosting these events buy lots of insurance and attempt to set a calm tone. But distilling the motorcycling wisdom of the ages into a three-minute cautionary talk is at best an impossibility. On borrowed brand-new bikes, the only law in town seems to be a guy named Newton, and he's dozing under an apple tree.
Scan the faces in the crowd and you see confidence, confusion and perhaps borderline incontinence (you know who you are). The delicate tapestry of personal restraint that has been so laboriously woven over a lifetime of careful two-wheeled learning is shredded in seconds by the temptation of free bikes. Clipboards are handed around and releases are signed with trembling fingers. Tell me again, which one's the Desmosedici...?