Freedom is the absence of what if

summerI wonder if it is a German thing or if it is a general attitude?

I do not know. But I know that the concept of freedom seems to scare people more than it seems to make them happy. Most people don’t want it, some even shirk it. Why does freedom scare them so much?

The bike is my idea of freedom in perfection, no matter where I am, no matter which bike I take, no matter where I go.

Most German bikers seem differ.

Last summer I walked into one of the big motorcycle shops, I had to work round the corner and had half an hour to waste and money to spend so I decided to have a look at half lids, I fancied a new one, the strap on my old one had come a bit lose.

While I perused the helmets on display I couldn’t help but overhear a German biker giving advice to his son who obviously bought his first bike and needed a lid. And took his dad along to the shop, maybe his dad took him…

See son, the guy said, this has EU norm …. and a safety badge from ….. and it has been tested by ….

He went on and on and on discussing the security aspects of just one helmet.

Better be safe than sorry, son!

Better grow up soon, son, I thought.

Then I spotted my favourite one, a US police helmet remake, Electra Glide in Blue style that would go nicely with my blue sunglasses. I put it on and (since I had come in the company car I had a handbag with me) checked what it looked like with my make-up mirror, looked great from the back as well, so I bought it.

I can still feel the German father’s shocked eyes upon me as I walked away, completely flabbergasted because I had never even checked the security features once.

How could I be so free?

 

Just because I can, man! I want wind in my face!

 

But I have another story to prove my point.

 

It has been rather hot here lately, often way over 30° Celcius. If you wear black leather in this heat, you are more likely to faint at the next set of lights than arrive safely at your destination of choice. I set off on a trip (200 km, minor roads) with denims, trainers and a T-shirt. How great to feel the wind caressing my skin and the sun shining on my face, no heavy gear to restrict my movements, nothing to make me sweat more that necessary, it still felt more than riding through the desert but that was ok. It felt right, it felt Californian.

When I arrived at work my colleagues looked at me with reproachful expressions because I didn’t wear any protective clothing. They (no bikers) felt the need to point out the dangers you face when you are riding a bike without a jacket.

Why do these people always assume they know more about the danger of riding a bike that the biker. I have been on one for more than 25 years now. Believe me guys, I have seen dangerous moments aplenty.

And then they said….. But what, if you have an accident???

What if?

Forget you “what ifs”!

This is what freedom is about. It knows no restrictions. Freedom is the absence of worries, it starts in the head and it makes your heart burst with joy. Freedom is happiness and it is the choice you make despite the danger that comes with it.

All things come at a price. Of course they do.

Why do you car drivers think we do not know that?

We do know and we choose to do what we think is right for us because we want freedom. We know what it feels like.

You can have all the “what ifs” and keep them!

Scotland the brave

 

Suzuki Intruder VS 1400The Scottish Highlands can be ferocious, relentless and dangerous even on a bike. Storms are battering the West coast of this Northern beauty, heavy rainfall and flooding block roads, low temperatures make you freeze even in summer.

Scotland’s for the brave indeed.

But on a day like this it is just breathtakingly beautiful.

Castle Tioram, Highlands, Scotland

Is there a better country to ride a bike in?

Isle of Skye, ScotlandScotland asks you to be brave, you need to be prepared to fight: the roads, the climate, the tourists. Bikers are getting killed every week here in summer and still they come here like hordes seeking the enemy, from England, Germany, France, Holland and Norway, drawn by a magnet of incredible magnitude: the beauty of the wilderness and the strength you draw out of coping with its adversities.

Scotland is a county for heroes, always has been and still is, on the bike.

In a way it is like one of these adventure holidays people book to get the thrill of their live.

On a bike you don’t need to book anything, adventure follows you wherever you go.

When I come back home from a drive through this magnificent part of the world I do feel different, stronger, braver, more self-assured. And any time I am more in love with this country.

Scotland the brave indeed.

Castle Tioram. Highlands, Scotland

 

amazing encounters

Funny, how a motorcycle can form an immediate bond between perfect strangers, I have encountered that a number of times lately.

Kirschblüten Ortenau (7)I work for television and have taken up writing as well. My next book, a travel guide for bikers to the Black Forest (Southern Germany), is due to be published in autumn and I am in the middle of research and photo shoots. On the Harley of course.

Seelbach (13)The more people I meet, the more I am fascinated by the power of my bike as a common denominator; it immediately establishes trust because you know, you share an experience, a dream even.

Even in places that have absolutely nothing to do with bikes or bikers, I find them, those who have the same passion.

Seelbach (15)

In a pottery in Seelbach I met a wonderful guy called Georg the other day. Turns out he used to have a bike as well. And his bike (him being German it was of course a BMW) was the reason why he was able to train as a potter all those years ago.

He took his future boss out on a ride, who enjoyed the run so much, he gave George the apprenticeship. Now he runs his own beautiful pottery. Thanks to his BMW.

Do we not all know stories like this, where the bike has really made a difference and has even changed the course our life was taking?

Seelbach (19)I guess this is what I love most about this book project – meeting people, hearing their stories, taking pictures of their work and finding out more about the power of  riding a bike.

What absolutely and utterly amazes me is the fact, that even though you seem to have nothing whatsoever in common with some people: you have, the minute you start talking bike.

when the season ends

20141101_151243newThe autumn sun had sent rays of intense golden light and the vibrant forest colours just seemed to wait to be enjoyed.

An unusual warm spell and the even more unusual event of a Saturday free of work coincided.

I just couldn’t help it.

I needed to take the Harley for a run.

20141101_141039

20141101_151348Lucky bikers who live where winter never hits. I don’t and I know, on this very spot, there will be snow soon, maybe in a few days. It is always early up on the mountains.

20141101_150343I wasn’t the only one today who felt compelled to ride since it could just be the last day of the year you could. Bikers were everywhere and so were tourists; complete and utter mayhem.

Guess I wasn’t the only one who felt it might be the last chance today.

The last ride of the season always feels very different from the first. Now the bike is a long and trusted friend moving smoothly in the rhythm you want.

In spring it will feel like meeting your lover after you have been apart for a long time. You need to overcome a certain shyness and restraint first.

But now, at the end of the season, the closeness is complete and you don’t want it to end.

Why is it that we always want the things we can’t have most?

20141101_151332I just know I will think about my bike all winter, counting the days until spring.

The motorcycle cycle is cruel to addicts like me.

Age starts in the head

on the roadFor a biker age is always the enemy, no matter what age he or she is.

Just think back on the time when you were a teenager and just could not wait until you were of age and finally allowed to ride.

How can you passionately wait? Who can count the endless nights you lay in bed dreaming of your future bike?

Age is agony when you don’t have it.

Things get better in your twenties. With a driving license and a passion for bikes, you are as close to heaven as you ever will be. You take on the most impossible trips, ride in the most impossible conditions and simply believe it is absolutely and utterly impossible that you will ever get old.

You do and you do realize that in your thirties, but nor because you feel any less about riding or ceased dreaming about it. No. You cherish and polish but underneath the sparkly surface you begin to feel the pain. After you have lost the first friend on the road, you see that age is: age is what some people never have.

Which then, in your forties, makes you wonder about the things you don’t have but always wanted. This is, where the Harley kicks in, at least it was in my case. And you fulfill that dream because now, you can. Now you must, because if you don’t, it might be too late.

HD Sportster 48 edition

rainy driveWith a lot of people I know, age becomes awareness of being old when you have turned fifty. Some never stop talking about it. Others try to hide it by dressing like they did thirty years ago. Most just don’t ride anymore because they feel old: their eyes find it difficult to focus at close range, their backs hurt after two hours straight riding and cold, rainy weather makes their bones sore. Age kills will.

I talked to the guy today. He used to own my other bike, the customized Suzuki Intruder.

I sold her because I found her just too difficult to handle and I never did more than two, three hundred miles a year on her.  I am 62 now I am too old for this so I bought a BMW. he said.

Suzuki VS 1400

I am determined never to get that old!

In my head I never want to be as old as that. I shall never resign to a BMW.

A bike is not for comfort, it is an expression of who you are. I thought so In my twenties and I do think so still.

And I am NOT a BMW!