Free From Distraction On Two Wheels

The case for motorcycling and the thrill of the unknown

Ducati Monster 821. Not all roads to work look like this, but dreaming of mountain curves in foreign lands and indulging in the imagination’s aimlessness is one of motorcycling’s greatest gifts to the rider.Milagro

One of modern society’s biggest attractions is distraction. Often, that’s a pitiable downfall, but in its best form, it motivates us to seek adventure with the aim of getting out of our comfort zones and growing in some new way. The problem is for most of us adventure is distinct from our normal lives, rather than part of it; this is what we really want in the first place, right?

Riding a motorcycle is a surefire way to add the edification of adventure to your everyday life. There’s something inherently adventurous about the whole thing, not just because of the risk involved but because riding a bike always feels out of the ordinary. You can ride the same road a million times, and have thousands of accumulated miles in the saddle, and that feeling never goes away.

“Riding well is worth doing because it demands something of you.”

Take, for instance, the daily commute. It represents one of the greatest sources of ennui in our lives, but even it can take on new meaning. Find the longest route to work, leave at dawn, and chase the sunrise. Arriving at the office after an exhilarating ride reconciles the journey, surrounding it in a frame of fun and adventure.

Unlike in a car—or a bus or train—a motorcycle fully engages your senses while you’re simultaneously honing your skills. Riding well is worth doing because it demands something of you: your full attention, your mastery of taking the right line through a corner, even the extra time it takes to put on proper riding gear. It’s simpler to hop in a car with a cup of coffee and a granola bar, but seldom is the trip as rewarding. A chilly spring motorcycle ride—with its attendant sacrifice in convenience and comfort—makes the journey, rather than the destination, the objective.

Instead of being attracted to distraction, on a motorcycle you’re overwhelmed by the immediacy of the experience: the visceral sense of combustion as it translates through your handlebars, the smell of blooming honeysuckle wafting past your helmet, the rush of a perfectly executed corner initiated by pressure on the inside grip. You become fully present in the moment. That’s the difference between distraction and diversion, routine and ritual. Ritual becomes formative, and before you know it, you’re looking for any excuse to get on your bike and unfold the state map in search of new horizons and further adventures.

The author’s Ducati 899 Panigale parked at “the office,” the organic farm he managed for seven seasons.Seth Richards