The Black Tarmac River
Riding a motorcycle on the road can be compared to the flow of a river. The length of the river is equivalent to the amount of time the rider has been riding, and its width is the amount of knowledge and training a rider has gained over a period of time.
There are times when the road is fast flowing or it can almost come to stand still. There are wider sections of the road, like on the motorway and also narrow sections on country roads.
A river takes a similar course, as it starts its journey it is narrow and as it gets towards the sea it is much wider. Through its journey there could be rapids and also deeper slower sections. No two rivers are the same and similarly the same can be said of riders – we are all different.
The start of the journey
Deep down in the depths of the earth the water is bubbling away and has a burning desire to escape and rise up to the surface. It really wants to get outside and start its journey to the coast. Something like the inner drive a rider has, when they can’t wait for the better weather and winter to be over to get out on their motorcycles.
Once the bug has bitten and it’s in your blood, it’s in your blood forever. There is no escaping that feeling.
There is an intense need to be on the bike at every opportunity. That desire is to get out onto the road to experience that much needed adrenalin rush and to breath the fresh air.
There is a sadness and a gloomy feeling when you can’t get out on your bike. It is like you are trapped and you are just waiting to be released. When the warmer weather arrives it’s like the weight has been lifted and you have been unshackled from the chains.
Riding a motorcycle gives you an unrivalled sense of freedom, a sense that only bikers know and enjoy. Until you’ve experienced it, you can’t understand it but that’s the reason so many people do it. It is food for the soul, it makes you feel alive.
A river and road are similar
The black tarmac river (the road) is exactly the same as the small trickle of a stream as it starts its long journey from the spring where it first pops out into the open air, right down to the sea.
There are many twists and turns in store for the water as it constantly changes its course and speed. There are fast flowing sections of the river (like the motorway and dual carriageway). There are quick and exciting sections as the river gains speed twisting and turning through the rocks and into waterfalls.
This is exactly the same as the undulating road in a twisty country lane where the road meanders its way through the countryside. The roads here can be narrow and around every corner could be a surprise (a hazard waiting to catch you out or slow you down).
It’s exhilarating and exciting but it has hidden dangers, like the rocks just under the surface waiting to puncture the bottom of the boat that gets too close!
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From humble beginnings
The stream becomes a brook as it gets wider, it has tributaries along the way as smaller streams feed the main river. This is how it grows on its journey and before its progress reaches the sea the river gets bigger, deeper and wider.
The size of the river in mass is the amount of training and knowledge the rider gains over their lifetime of riding. Some riders have a long journey but never really gain much extra knowledge at all, whereas some riders have a shorter time riding but gain a lot of knowledge and experience.
Towards the end of the journey, the small stream is nowhere to be seen as it has grown in mass and stature. It has morphed into something very different on its growth path. This is exactly the same experience that a rider goes through on their journey. They grow in knowledge, ability and confidence the more they ride.
Becoming well versed in riding comes with experience and ability. It’s the direct result of time in the saddle and crunching in the miles. Riders do not just get better with the click of the fingers, they take time to develop and grow. They are not the same rider that first cocked their leg over the bike for the first time.
Blockages and slower momentum
As the river loses speed it gets deeper and slower. It becomes more sluggish and careful as it continues its journey towards the sea. The movement is hardly noticeable. At times it is slow and almost at a standstill, not unlike riding in congested areas in towns and cities, creeping along with the almost stationary traffic. There are always hazards to consider or perhaps choose an alternative path.
There are locks and areas where the river stops flowing as there are height elevations on the land to negotiate. The water has to divert its course in order to continue (usually a weir). Not dissimilar to the biker whose path is closed because of a roadblock or a diversion sign indicating an alternative route.
There may be fallen trees, shopping trolleys and debris in the river. They all impede the flow and cause problems to the river as it has to change its course. It stops and starts and flows around objects in its way but always with movement and a flow that can’t be stopped. The flow has to adjust because of the immediate conditions.
This is natural for the river but to mimic the perfect journey the rider must know how to read the road. You must make safe decisions that will keep you out of harm’s way and more importantly, show restraint when your flow is, or may be interrupted.
The fast flowing sections on the road are the most exciting but they are not for the whole journey. Reading the road is a skill and is something that you must learn to do.
The final leg
You can try to look into the future as a new rider. You won’t see much except what is immediately in front of you, when you have little or no knowledge it’s hard to imagine what the future looks like.
You don’t know the pitfalls, the problems or the route. But you do know there will be challenges and hard times, along with good times too. Your job as a new rider is to gain experience and knowledge along the way, this will help you navigate the tarmac river.
But without some much needed advice and knowledge, you will be riding blindly. Not knowing what lies beneath the surface of the water is sometimes regarded as being naive, but that could be seen as a good thing as you rely on luck to reach your destination.
Someone who looks back at their riding career will see it as a journey. It has had its pitfalls and excitement but those who have not had a smooth ride through their life would opt to make some changes. If they’ve had close calls or accidents that have caused injury, they would change the past.
The only way to make the route a smooth one is to take further training. Let someone who has sailed down the river lead and guide you. They’ve got the experience and know how to negotiate the faster, more exciting routes. They also know how to deal with situations when the going is slower and boring, they are patient and do not make erratic or fatal decisions.
Just as the small stream eventually makes it to the sea, your aim as a rider is to always make it to your destination safely and in one piece after every ride.