I got my motorcycle license before my car license. What you experience is a visceral thing – a freedom that’s not unlike the freedom when you first ride a bicycle down a hill without pedaling. Riding a motorcycle is like riding a bike downhill all the time.
Five years ago, my older brother, Bob, and I drove across the United States, like a “Route 66” trip. We’ve said we need to do that again, on our motorcycles, with the goal of never riding on interstates. That’s the nice thing about Iowa – there are lots of places you can ride without lots of traffic.
I’ve owned most types of bikes. I had a Harley for a while, so I got to experience that culture. The mystique is that Harley riders represent the lone wolf, but they’re all dressed the same. That’s not bad, it’s just interesting. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve looked for more comfortable, lighter bikes. A 700-pound Harley is hard to move.
I always wear a helmet. Back in New Jersey when I was 17, the state didn’t have a helmet law. I was riding one night and hit a beetle with my forehead. It almost knocked me off the bike.
I guess it’s like [Robert Pirsig’s book] Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, something to just get lost in for a while. I can hold on to the experience of being 17, riding the motorcycle.
I can’t recapture that running the 100-meter dash. If I tried to do that, I’d mostly just feel hurt.
Richard Belloff, D.B.A., FACHE-designate, is an assistant professor in DMU’s College of Health Sciences. His current motorcycle is a 2009 Suzuki Gladius.