Feb 24, 2014

#45 Want to Race?

All Rights Reserved © 2005 Thomas W. Day

In my 40 years of motorcycling, the title of this column reflects what is probably the most common reaction my motorcycles get from guys and, lately, girls in expensive “sport” cages. Corvettes, Porches, BMWs, TransAMs, and assorted wannabe sports-car-crap owners want to prove the financial and macho rational for their expensive vehicle by blowing off a motorcycle. Racing cars isn’t my idea of a fair fight, for a zillion reasons.

First, I don’t want to be in the lead on a public roadway because I don’t have what it takes to do a bumper-to-rear-tire competition with a hormone-crazed and untalented driver of a 4,000 pound lump of bad-handling iron. Getting passed by one of these idiots in moronic race-face-mode is scary enough. Re-passing them and counting on road and traffic conditions, skill, and light timing is an act of extreme faith/stupidity. I have absolutely no faith in any of the critical elements required to play this game. I may be dumb, but I’m not that dumb.

Even more cowardly, I don’t have the financial fortitude to get snagged at 100+ mph in a speed trap while fleeing a nutball cager. “Discretion is the better part of valor,” sayeth me and Falstaff. I am very discrete when it comes to attracting the attention of public serpents. If I could manage to pass through my whole life without ever, once, talking to an “officer of the law” about any aspect of my public life, I’d die a happy guy.

Finally, bikes racing cars is like inciting an intellectual debate with a Republicrat or getting into a gunfight with an unarmed man; and I mean a man without arms or weapons. Even in that rare situation where the car has some advantage, the biker is still having more fun. The best day spent in a cage is still a day in a cage. You just have to feel sorry for anyone so incompetent that he (or she) needs those two unnecessary wheels to stay upright. I suppose unicycle pilots feel this way about the unnecessary second wheel that bikers need for stability?

On a closed course, it might be fun to test the capabilities of these totally different vehicle designs. Paris-to-Dakar, Barstow-to-Vegas, and the Baja 500 make that comparison every year. When the bikes beat the cages, I think the world is spinning in the right direction. When they don’t, I figure the cagers cheated.

Not that I’m biased or anything. I just don’t like cars, even the astoundingly cool cars one of my old heroes, Parnelli Jones, used to build. Cars are like handicapped parking at racquetball courts, they just don't make a lot of sense as a transportation system. Buses are badly considered trains and cars are really poorly thought-out buses. Cars are public transportation for folks who don’t have the capacity to think ahead more than one business day. Cars need a massive corporate welfare system to support all the crap that goes with incompetent drivers, greedy politicians, redundant bureaucrats, pathetic vehicle manufacturers, and general physical sloth.

Motorcycles only need a little space between the fence lines. We don’t need the space plowed, paved, or partitioned. We don’t need no stinkin’ badges, handicapped parking spaces, double-yellow lines, highway medians, or traffic planners. Motorcycling is about the law of the fittest in action. Caging is about creating a planet packed with inept, timid, and helpless people who want to feel independent but need a lot of help to manage it. Those are exactly the people for whom mass transportation is designed. I say, “Bring on light rail and plow up the roads.”

Until the perfect world arrives at my doorstep my reply will continue to be, "No, I don’t want to race." I’m perfectly happy to let you run the radar gauntlet while I follow, comfortably, in the laser and RF wake of your macho-insecurity-craziness. I’m satisfied knowing that, without breaking a mechanical sweat, my $3,000 rat bike can keep up with your $40,000-$100,000 hunk of junk. I especially like creeping up on you, when you're really pushing your limits, just to let you know that you’re slowing me down. Then, I back off, to watch you wallow through curves, screaming tires and clinging to the steering wheel like it will be your last tactile sensation on earth. If cagers weren't entertaining, they wouldn't have any social value. Nope, I don’t feel the need to seriously compete in your race to the death. "I just like to watch."

Of course, I would never do such a terrible thing to my fellow imbecilic human. I just think it really loud. There are far too few dumb asses on earth for me to want to taunt one into any sort of suicidal activity. I obey all traffic laws to the absolute exclusion of common sense, a reasonable and safe speed, and my personal freedom.

May 2005

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