Do We Ride or Do We Trail?

Some will get kind of mad at me for this piece, but it only reflects the reality of actually being a motorcyclist... which involves riding. Motorcyclists DO ride, and this should say pretty much everything related to the rest of this write-up.
The idea for this editorial came after seeing this innovative bike trailer which added undeniable convenience to loading and unloading the bike, and sparing its owner the trouble of wrecking the bike after a fall from the ramp.

However, needing a trailer haul for a broken bike is logical, but using it to reach bike rallies simply sucks big time. Seriously.

I took some time to think about this affair from as many perspectives as possible and, with some minor exceptions, I still believe that trailing a bike to a rally is wrong. As opposed to my other milder editorials where I refrained myself to judging things in terms of right or wrong, this time I will take sides.

Among the very few decent reasons to trail a bike to say, Sturgis, is the lack of experience. New riders who are still unfamiliar with the way motorcycles work may also have a rough time riding some 500 km (310 miles) or more a day, for several days in a row.

Fatigue could be accentuated by the excessive awareness these fellows usually exercise trying to get along with the traffic. Still, I have some objections. First of all, motorcycle rallies have always been about people RIDING and assembling in a certain place.

The fact that a bunch of lazy-ass Sunday riders are in a way trying to change the meaning of the motorcycle rally notion is just as wrong as it is pathetic. Motorcycles are made for being ridden, across multiple state and country borders, if need be. RIDDEN, right.

A newbie might want to attend Sturgis, but he or she should take some time and think it over. Taking part in such an event involves either being a rider / passenger or being a visitor. Even passengers have to be tough to endure the long trip, and thus prove themselves worthy of sewing the "I rode mine to Sturgis" patch.

So seriously, if you're new to riding, maybe you should stick to events closer to your home. Or think ahead and get to ride as much as possible before the big journey. And get used to ride with experienced friends, learn what riding in a group is like, and thus start becoming a motorcyclist.

It's no shame, and no reasonable rider will ever laugh at you: we all started just the same way, just like everybody else, as no one is born a rider. Those who mock you are not your best riding partners. A good riding partner helps you become a rider like him or her, and supports and teaches you.

Other reasons some trailer-bikers invoke is fatigue over the thousands of miles-long trip. Sorry, fellows, motorcycling was never about being all good and comfy like sitting in your fat leather armchair in the living room, with the AC creating the ideal temperature for you to enjoy the TV shows and your beer.

Riding means you'll have to endure heath and rain, a sour butt, dust mixing with perspiration on the patches of bare skin, waking up in the morning and starting all over again. It sometimes means getting your hands dirty and feet wet (though these can be avoided, altogether) as it also comes with all the teeth grinding and “I swear I'll never do this again” muttering. And all riders DO it all over again.

Yes, you get thirsty, you sweat, your feet and boots may stink in the evening, but there's nothing like a good shower, fresh pair of socks and shoe odor spray can't fix.

I could understand a guy looking ahead to 2000 miles of riding a sportsbike, but seeing a Harley bagger on a trailer to Sturgis makes me sigh. All cruiser manufacturers boast on how comfortable their bikes are, and how good for touring these machines are, just waiting to hit the open road and all.

So it's either them lying and you being tricked into buying a bike that does not do what the book says, or you being unable to act like a motorcyclist and use the machine for the purpose it was built for. Your pick.

Other excuses mention safety. Now, would someone please tell me when riding a motorcycle was “safe”, the way your grandma sees safe? Bikes were never safe, and that's why most of us 24/7 riders got into riding, isn't it?

Lotus founder Colin Chapman used to joke when ranting against bikes “how can you trust a machine that falls over when you walk away from it?”, but between the lines, truth is that bikes do come with a good deal of risks riders must live with. Long trips means you ARE exposed for a longer time, but that comes with the job, so to speak.

Living with bare necessities is another thing some of the “trailies“ speak against. Tough luck, again: motorcycle touring means you have to be smart enough and only pack your essentials.

Leave the ironing board at home, a t-shirt with your fav band or bike is only infinitely better. And you'll very quickly hate riding wearing a shirt in the summer, trust me. The hair drier can also serve you well even if it does not make it to Sturgis.

Smart riders pack their things the smart way, and instead of choosing saddlebags with 200 silly conchos, they'll pick the roomier ones. And that's because space is a premium item on a bike, whereas 25 pounds of useless chrome bling is only impressing the posers. If you want to be a real rider, then learning how to pack and ride is a very smart thing to do.

Among other excuses for trailing a bike to a rally is old age. What's funny is that I see a lot of old fellows in both the US and Europe who are riding their own bikes to these gatherings. Bad hips and ankles, bad wrists and heart conditions, and plenty of the nuisances that usually come with old age, they all seem to be a fair trade for a lifetime of riding.

Remember the old Taiwanese riders back on their bikes? One of them even laughed, “I didn't stop riding because I got old: I got old because I stopped riding!” Chew on these words a bit and you'll hopefully see the truth between the lines...

Most of the “trailer tourers” are strong middle-aged fellows, not old ones. And it looks like for them motorcycles are more of an accessory or “social fashion” statement than a way of life.

Trailing a motorcycle literally kills all the freedom that comes with riding one. Trailer-bikers will seldom venture off the main road to take some hours for a sightseeing detour, and they'll also miss all the true communion with the surrounding nature, whether it’s the desert, the mountains and mighty forests or the vast serene grassy plains. How else could someone still speak about “freedom,” “born to ride”, “ride to live” and all the other things we see proudly displayed at rallies?

Some more radical bikers even claim that rallies should ban trailer-bikers. While such a move would definitely cut the attendance drastically, I will not deny that I would enjoy such a wild scenario.

I can picture a group of dusty, dirty riders with tired faces but with fire burning in their eyes welcomed at a rally and passing the half-open barrier, leaving behind them a sea of SUVs with shiny, clean bikes strapped on the trailers they tow. Priceless!

Get a grip and ride, trailing is just dead effin' wrong!
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