Guest Column: Together in Motion
March 13, 2012
Understanding The Ego Of The Motorcyclist
By Jeffrey Rumminger
My motorcycle idles high as it warms up, and my riding gear is coming on. As the engine speed decreases, I begin to feel anticipation of the ride. My eyes trace the shapes of metallic art that are part of my machine. I feel a slight warming near my leg as the engine heat radiates.
I check zippers and snaps—secure. My helmet is on and cinched. The gloves come on and I once again appreciate that comforting feeling of those perfectly shaped and worn-in gloves. My leg swings over the bike, and I feel a tingle of joy that slowly makes its way through my body.
I throttle up and ease out the clutch. That first moment of motion overtakes me with a soothing rush. That moment—that same moment every time—is both mysterious and familiar. It is in that moment that all non-riding things fall away and I recapture the freedom to focus again. It is in that moment, that very real moment of motion, I am connected.
As most motorcyclists do, I often get the question, “Why do you ride a motorcycle?” For me, first and foremost, riding my motorcycle is about making a connection to motion. Riding is the absence of all non-riding thought and in that absence a connection to motion is formed. No other motorized machine designed to transport a human being provides that same connection. Planes can’t. Trains can’t. Automobiles can’t. Boats can’t.
The essence of my motorcycle ride is not just saddling the machine and transporting myself upon it. Rather, it’s how I command it by becoming part of it. The strife, struggle, and challenge to become “one” in motion with my motorcycle are part of that essence.
When I’m riding my motorcycle, I become part of the environment. The aromas, temperatures, shifts from wet to dry, the earthy grime, and shades of an infinite color palette all slam together in my senses, building not only a recognition of the scene I’m passing through, but a comprehension that allows me to feel connected to it. Riding my motorcycle brings a more focused and involved existence to my psyche and the elements of that awareness seem to overflow in other aspects of my life.
The risk of riding, while controlled, serves to sharpen my senses to a high level. Whether whizzing past a scene at high speed or experiencing it with a slow speed crawl, riding, and the act of my motorcycle in motion, connects me to those scenes unlike anything else, and my mind becomes tattooed.
Despite the seemingly chaotic activity of machinery in my motorcycle and the confinement of my riding gear, I feel an unmatched, unrivaled, calm and eerie freedom when I ride.
Almost surreal, those feelings are the same each and every ride, yet seemingly forgotten through planting the kick stand at rides’ end as testament to the renewed excitement I feel each time I ride.
I seek to ride my motorcycle again, then again, to repeat and recapture scenery in motion, and go beyond seeing.
While the physics of a motorcycle in motion and the science behind it have always interested me, what truly intrigues me as a motorcycle rider is how those principles keep my ego in check and provide balance in my life. My riding ego is the internal driving force and dialogue that tells me all things seem possible when I am riding my motorcycle. This is far different than what I feel off the bike, and also the mental state that encourages me to push myself when I’m on it.
To push harder along that twisting mountain road, to push harder over and through those jagged rocks on a mountain pass, to push longer, just one more hour, going for a new long-distance personal best, then realizing—as with a hypnotist’s pendulum—the motion of my motorcycle has once again transformed me.
My answer to why I ride? I ride to be connected to motion, to “become” my scenery rather than just see it, to understand the constant necessity to control my ego in all aspects of my life, and to revel in knowing that I am a motorcyclist.
Jeffrey Rumminger is an AMA member from Wichita Falls, Texas.