Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Ich bin ein Motorcyclist!

Ok, not a great paraphrasing of the famous line from JFK, however the April 2007 issue of the BMW ON or Owner News magazine that I get as part of my membership to the BMWMOA had this great article by member Dave Webber where he arrives at the distinction between motorcyclists and bikers during a trip to the biker rally at Sturgis.

This article resonated with me and while I can't reproduce the whole article here, I can type in the parts that mattered to me most:

I made a late start and off I went the next day with my new destination being Sturgis. After a return to the park I made it as far east as Gillette. I found a hotel for the night and by this time; there were almost as many motorcycles in the parking lot as there were motorhomes.

There was something odd, however. The great percentage of the motorcycles were being unloaded from trailers with out-of-state license plates. There were mostly cruisers. As I unpacked my gear from my oilhead, I managed some conversation with my fellow riders and learned that many of the participants tow their machines to within a few miles of the rally, and then ride to the rally where they stay for a week to enjoy the camaraderie. I nodded to them in comprehension, I didn't get it really.

I had heard of people from the northeast trailering their motorcycles to North Carolina on their way to Daytona in February but this was August in the West! Anyway, a nice dinner and some sleep sent me on my way to Sturgis the next morning. I stopped for about an hour, bought a hat, and took some pictures and rode to Pierre, my destination for the night.
All in all, it was a well-planned once-in-a-lifetime journey punctuated by a detour to the Sturgis Rally. I had great fun and thousands of memories to show for it. This is all I have to show for it as my camera was lifted somewhere in Pierre, South Dakota! The 20,000 extra kilometers on my BMW were the only proof that I had made the trip.
So here I am removing the coat of wax I had applied to the yellow oilhead and the concept became quite clear. I, as a motorcyclist would gladly spend a week riding to the rally; stay and hour and then ride home again. To ride an hour to the rally and stay a week would not. That to me is more the biker lifestyle and does not define motorcycling which to me is an altogether different lifestyle. For me, motorcycling is its own reward, the journey is the destination.
The bolded line above is what I believe is becoming a philosophy with me as well. Sure there's hopefully thousands more miles ahead of me and I've yet to do overnight trips on a motorcycle so we shall see but so far, it's looking pretty good! Call me a Motorcyclist!

Update: 28FEB09: Found this article via a link on the BMWMOA Website: LINK


Steve Johnson said...

I think the author of the article whom you quoted is mischaracterizing cruiser riders as people who don't "really" ride their motorcycles. What he saw were SOME people trailering their bikes, and he associated that as a weakness of all cruiser riders.

The fact is that there are far more cruiser owners than BMW owners. Therefore, the numbers will certainly find more casual riders in the cruiser category than in the BMW category.

However, I believe that the ratio between casual riders and hardcore riders in the cruiser category is the same as that in the BWM category.

Charlie6 said...


Point taken, however, I don't think the author meant anything derogatory, he was just stating that it was not his "thing" to ride an hr and stay a week, instead prefering to ride a week and stay an hour.

Am sure there's plenty of beemer riders who don't put in many miles on their bikes as you say. Am also sure there's some cruiser riders out there who've covered more distance than the author has done or that I will.

He was just putting his definition on the terms biker and motorcyclist. I was agreeing with his commentary. I had, until I read the article, referred to myself as a I prefer motorcyclist, that's all.

I think if you could have read the whole article, you'd have gotten the full context. That's the danger of just quoting parts of an article it seems. A lesson re-learned for me.

Thanks for your comments and I wish you safe riding...