Cycle News has always prided itself on being as apolitical as a wide-reaching platform possibly could be, and I’m not about to use my column to voice opinions on the current administration.
After all, I’m not even a citizen, so it’s not my place to say you’re either wrong or right for voting for this person or that, because this writing isn’t about politics.
The year 2020 really, well, sucks in a lot of ways. I know there’s never been a crazier year since I’ve been on this earth, and it’s made me realize we need motorcycling and everything it stands for now more than ever.
The great thing about riding a motorcycle is you have no idea who is under the helmet. Could be male or female of any race. Doesn’t matter. Nor should it.
I’ve seen a lot of this country in my five and a half years here, probably more than many Americans, I might add. I’ve gone riding with every race of person I can think of in the USA and am pleased when someone from a new country or background comes on a press intro or joins a group ride—because that’s how it was for me when I came here back in 2015. It reinforces what’s so good about bikes—that we’re all equal, we’re all the same—and hammered home what I love so much about this amazing country.
Years ago, I used to DJ in clubs in Sydney’s central business district (CBD). During a typically very late night set I was playing, one shirt that a guy in the crowd was wearing really stuck with me—it was of two skeletons kissing. Both were completely devoid of skin, color, race and gender. Underneath the bodies was the tagline “one and the same.”
No doubt, the shirt was in relation to gay rights, which was on the federal government agenda, as gay marriage still was not yet legal in Australia, but it could just as easily be targeted towards any race of human being on the planet. Some 15 years later, it makes me think when we strap on the helmet, we are absolutely one and the same. We crash the same, we break bones the same, we win and lose the same.
It’s especially true on the racetrack. Racing, indeed, all sport, is a great equalizer and couldn’t give a damn what color your skin is. All that matters is getting to the checkered flag first, and giving a fist bump (and a cheeky wink) to whoever finished behind you.
The hurt and heartache of this year, and especially the last few weeks, is something I’ve never experienced on this level. Internationally, people from every facet of life are disgusted with how something so archaic like racism has been allowed to flourish to the degree it has.
Being a white male, I’ll never know what it’s like to be persecuted for my skin color. I can’t even imagine it. However, I am proud my local race club, the Chuckwalla Valley Motorcycle Association (CVMA), has an extremely diverse pack of riders from every corner of the globe that come together a few weeks a year to share a battle on track and a beer afterwards.
The pain felt the world over in the last few weeks goes together with the horrific Covid-19 situation, and the now normal practice of social distancing in this bastard of a year. However, when you strap on that helmet, you’re doing yourself and society a favor.
A conversation I had with a manufacturer a few hours before writing this gave me some heart, as they told me sales are growing far quicker than expected during the Covid-19 era thanks to what we’ve all known for years—motorcycles are the world’s best social-distancing tool.
Let’s be honest, people are gross, and I can’t think of a place I’d rather not be than on a bus full of people wearing masks and staring at each other like we’ve all got something to hide. Give me the pouring rain and an open-face helmet over that, any day.
Let me go riding with anyone and everyone, or absolutely no one. I don’t care. I’ve got my Snell-approved facemask on. What’s important to me is the road, the ride and the good times, whether I’m going to work, ripping up Palomar Mountain with mates and the odd stranger, or charging around in circles on my Husqvarna FS 450.
Besides, if you’re wearing gear, I wouldn’t know who or what you are, anyway. That’s one of the great things about motorcycling, and why we need motorcycling now more than ever.CN