RoadRUNNER Zen Motorcyclist

Shared Experience

Apr 11, 2012 View Comments by

I’m not sure what it is about group riding that is so desirable, enjoyable and inspiring. Cori and I were talking about it the other day. In most cases there is no communication other than hand signals, so as group activities go, it’s a strange, yet somehow totally fulfilling one. We decided it has something to do with the shared experience.

We’ve run a group in excess of one hundred riders that is in its second full year now, and I’m always happily surprised at how easily complete strangers can feel like old friends. Each rider is alone; yet protected by the group. Each rider makes peace with his own past and plots his future, while sharing an uncertain but completely immersive present. We travel together across whatever threshold we each need to cross. Motorcycles are unique in this respect. I can’t say the same is true for any other mode of transportation.

For me it has something to do with the simple act of heading in the same direction as a group, yet separately. The endpoint is just the conjured up framework we work with, it doesn’t matter where we go really.  It’s always about more than what you see and what you feel anyway. It’s deeper, the kind of deep that’s better shared. Externally each rider accompanies the others, while internally going wherever he or she needs or decides to go. We accompany each other there and take turns guarding each other’s backs.

On a group ride we get a bit of the “tonic of wildness” that Thoreau talks about. When we arrive, we smile that smile that a casual observer might mistake for mere friendship, but in many cases we don’t really know each other; but everyone knows it’s more. No one ever says it aloud and that’s okay. To say it aloud would tarnish it because certain feelings are better unspoken and there’s no need to verbalize it. The smile seems to say “thanks for coming along, for accompanying me on my journey, and allowing me to accompany you on yours”.

Riding is always joyous, even on those rides when I find myself thinking about someone who has passed on and true joy is always better shared.


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About the author

I have been motorcycle commuting since 1998. I created Zen Motorcyclist (formerly Commuting Motorcyclist) in 2011 and work as a motojournalist, software developer, CAD designer and IT/CAD manager in the Surveying and Civil Engineering field.