Why I Ride

Story by Gustav Verderber// Photos by Gustav Verderber
December 12 2023

Don’t overthink it, just do it because it’s what you enjoy.

Not too long ago, we were limited to travelling only as far as a horse or the wind on a sail could take us. Along came steam powered ships and trains, and then planes, and we could travel…well, anywhere we wished. Provided we could afford it.

Remember the “jet set?” I’m 69 and I recall my parents using that phrase to refer to those fortunate few who could afford to fly to places most could only read about in books and magazines like National Geographic. Now, the cost of flying somewhere is accessible to almost all of us and we take air travel for granted. Yet, given the gauntlet of travails just to get on a plane and the tortures that await us in flight, the novelty of flying has waned. Air travel is at best a hassle; at worst, a nightmare.

It wasn’t until about the middle of the 20th century that an extensive network of paved roads began to spider web itself across the U.S. and southern Canada, and made it possible — even easy — to take a road trip to visit grandma, even if she lived a few provinces or states away.

I Ride Because I Can

When I first got my driver’s licence and I was pumping gas at the service station on the corner, even though my father worked as a clerk at the local Ford Assembly plant, you wouldn’t find me fawning over the new Mustangs that pulled in or engaging the drivers with questions about where they were headed. But a biker? While he or she carefully pumped the gas into their gleaming tanks, I was gushing with questions, leading with: “Where are you headed?”

Certainly, Stingrays and Mustangs were impressive, but they didn’t transfix me like a motorcycle. Besides, most 16-year-olds can’t afford a Stingray. But a BSA 650 Lightning? I was riding that by the time I was a freshman in college. A motorcycle is the most affordable personal conveyance that will handily take us to places and adventures near or far, whether we have a couple hours, a weekend, or a couple of weeks. No multiple security screenings. No monthly payments.

I picked up my mint condition 2006 Triumph Bonneville with 6,000 miles on the odometer in 2019 for $3,500. Try to get a running car for that price. No meeting other people unless we choose to. Just go to the garage, the shed, the carport, or uncover your bike, do the T-CLOCS inspection, and go. At an average of 55 mpg, I’ll be out of the state before I need to top off my tank which, even when I’m on reserve, still comes in at well under $20.

Form Follows Function

I have developed and honed the skills necessary to safely ride a motorcycle and am physically able to operate the machine. And life is about discovering what we’re capable of, and is too short not to indulge our talents and…


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