When I ride I am acutely aware of every aspect of my surroundings just as most good riders are. My senses are heightened and I feel as if I have a keenness of perception that often alludes me when I am not straddling my Harley. This sensitivity to everything really assists in one of my favorite pastimes, that of people watching.
I notice how people look at me or the group I am riding with and it is really a mixed bag of reactions. Some wave and smile and you can see almost envy in their eyes as if they were wishing they were riding on the back or could be in my boots. Some little children look wide-eyed at me with my dark glasses and black leather and loud rumbling bike and they can't figure out if I am one of the good guys or the bad guys. That's right, some see me as a misfit and possibly an outlaw ... judging me on appearances only without knowing anything about the man who thrills to the ride and has honor and compassion for all mankind in his heart. It is obvious that others think of me as reckless, a wild one, or a irresponsible free spirit instead of the professional business man I am in my non-riding moments. Some even show outright fear and try not to be caught looking my way as if they were afraid I was going to do something evil by pulling up beside them.
Then I see those that also ride or have ridden in the past. You can see it in their expressions as clear as day. They look at me and the bike and appreciate the oneness they know man and machine shares. They look past me and see themselves there, remembering good times or appreciating the moment knowing the exhilaration I am feeling and sharing that feeling anew in their own minds. They've ridden and know the feeling of freedom and near abandonment yet in total control of not only our machine but of our lives at that moment. They understand the choice to freely ride and enjoy the wind and environment on a whole new level of sensation. The scitillation of danger, being on the edge, the confidence of that choice clear in our hearts.
Those few that see past the stereotype and understand the love of riding don't judge the person sitting in the saddle. They know riders come from all walks of life. We are fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, veterans, firemen, policeman, doctors, lawyers, and every occupation in between. We are all faiths and no faith, and yes, even a few outlaws. However, no matter who we are when we are not in the saddle while we are riding we are all proud members of an elite brother/sisterhood of individuals with the common love of motorcycles, riding and freedom of expression.
If you don't ride you don't know. How true.