Life on two wheels is better than life on four wheels, or no wheels at all and it might just be better than life any other way. At least that is what people who live life on two wheels tell me. To that end, I’ve heard Brent say that it doesn’t matter what you ride as long as you ride. Just ride. Period. I think that he speaks with some authority, since he has been living on two wheels almost as long as he’s been living on two legs.
I would certainly ride anything that has two wheels and an engine. I’m almost forty now and I seem to remember saying something similar when I was sixteen and looking forward to my first car. Anxious to start riding, I’ve been looking at bikes and have quickly discovered that there are multitudes of options out there. And I’ve also discovered that while I would truly and happily ride anything, there are some things that I definitely like.
British bikes, for instance. Now, it may be my years spent studying English literature, but there is something about British bikes that just look classic and respectable while still maintaining a certain rebellious chivalry. Nortons have a great vintage appeal, although my affinity may also stem from the fact that Norton shares its name with what is probably the most well-known anthology in English literature-a big book that weighs as much as the motorcycle. Then there are Royal Enfields, which look just as sharp as the Royal Air Force pilots who rode them. Sounds better when you say it out loud, too: “Royal Enfield.” Just the right blend of well-bred manners and rugged good looks. And, of course, the Triumph: Steve McQueen, The Great Escape. Did anyone else want a bike after watching that movie when they were twelve?
One of the challenges for me, however, is finding something that’s reasonably reliable. It’s easy enough to track down some bikes that I like and that fall within my own budget, but it’s something else again to feel confident that I’m making a wise purchase. I don’t know how many emails I have sent Brent with pictures and links to possible bikes. Probably enough to clog up his inbox and certainly enough for me to avoid making some mistakes. Casual remarks in an email become gems for me: “That one sounds like it might be a scam…Those ones are usually safe bet….These are heavy and have a ton of electrical problems.” Having someone you trust in your corner is invaluable, especially when that person is passionate about riding.
I suspect that when someone loves riding, simply riding is probably always enough. Nonetheless, I have also heard Brent say that he wants people to smile when they ride. It’s like a bit of magic that happens when someone finds the right bike. After all, riding can’t simply be about getting from point A to point B - that’s why we have a minivans. Besides, I’ve heard riders sharing some of their early experiences: sitting a little taller and a little more confidently after coming through a chaotic snarl of traffic when one has taken a wrong turn; or a surge of speed rolling over a hill while the warm Okanagan air laden with the aroma of orchards and vineyards spills over you. How suddenly a quick ride is transformed into something bigger and fuller.
And perhaps it’s in this fullness that riding becomes something more. Perhaps it is in these moments that the riding experience is transformed; and while it always remains fun, it unexpectedly becomes joy. Consequently, if you happen to find yourself among a group of people who love their bikes and indisputably love riding you are likely to find that this kind of joy is contagious. And when you are fortunate enough to find yourself riding in a community like this you start experiencing life…life on two wheels.
David Balfour was born in Regina, Saskatchewan and has since lived in Edmonton, Alberta, as well as British Columbia’s Cariboo and Kootenay regions before settling in the Okanagan. David has had a variety of career tangents through the years: he was a roadie for a rock band in the 1990s, he worked on a mushroom farm, completed a Bachelor of Arts degree, owned a small business and is currently completing his Education degree at the University of British Columbia.
David is new to the world of motorcycles in general and MotoVida in particular. However, a love found later in life is better than a love never found at all. He lives in Kelowna, BC with his wife, Lindsay and their four children, Emma, Annie, Aidan and Cordelia, and the Radian, his motorcycle.