It seems ridiculous to compare riding a motorcycle through a corner to hitting a golf ball, right? Kenny Roberts doesn’t think so. I’ve become fairly used to people who don’t understand sport riding calling me an adrenaline junkie, but to me, riding a motorcycle fast is much more than just a cheap thrill.
Still, even after explaining in detail what it’s really like to drag a knee, most people can’t get past their own opinions of what it would be like. Fear, danger and excitement are the feeling that most people conjure up, but those just are not things you think about when your puck touches down.
Until you’ve done it for yourself, though, it’s hard to imagine that riding a bike at its limits is anything else.If you hop on a superbike with no technical skills, whack the throttle open and manage to hold on, you’re going to be in for one hell of a ride. Same goes for riding as a passenger on said bike. Sheer terror and excitement. You see these guys running around in shorts, flip-flops, a vest and usually the flashiest race-replica helmet they can find. It’s just never occurred to them that motorcycling can also be a sport that requires physical ability, skill, thought and careful planning.
What it’s all about for me is achievement, success and reward. There is no room for opinions, taste, style or attention whoring in motorcycle racing. Hell, you can’t even cheat once you’re on the track. It’s a test of both how well you can decide what the motorcycle should do and your execution of that. If you’re right and you win, it means that you’re the best. No one else could do it better than you on that equipment, on that race track, under those conditions. It sounds like a long list of qualifiers, but it’s hard to get a much more simple definition. The satisfaction of knowing that you’ve done something very hard, and done it well, is like nothing else. It breaks my heart when people reduce that to a base craving for fear, danger and excitement.
What it comes down to is that riding a motorcycle is sport of careful planning and skill, just like Kenny Roberts explains: “Taking a corner on a racing machine is like playing golf. You are always taught to see the shot and then hit it. If you can’t picture the shot and see what you are going to do then you will never make it. The same applies to riding a bike. You have to be able to see the line you want to follow through the corner—picture it in your mind, where you want to brake, and turn and come out.”