During an interview with The Pace Podcast conducted by the hosts James and Chris, I had an emotional moment when trying to communicate how I wanted to share my love of riding with my girlfriend Jenny. My voice shook as I tried to find the words to express the joy I experience when on a bike and I leaned on the old surfer’s cliché, “If I have to explain it, you’ll never understand.” Chris responded that he hated when motorcyclists use that saying, but softened his criticism by admitting the adage pretty much holds true.
I overthink everything. As days went by after the interview, I thought about the position Chris first stated about the old saying. I now agree – I hate it too. It’s a cop out. When I use it, I am basically insulting the person that is asking a valid question.
I’ll never forget the time my band played a well attended show at The State Theater in Saint Petersburg Florida. A young fan approached me and said, “That was the most awesome show I’ve ever seen!” In an attempt to appear humble I responded, “Nah, that was crap, we sucked.” The kid hung his head and uncomfortably shuffled off back into the crowd. My bass player Martin came up to me right after the exchange and scolded me. “Why did you say that? You just insulted that kid’s musical taste! He’s a fan! Next time can you just say ‘Thank you!?!'”
Martin was right. I had a beautiful chance to share this fan’s excitement and I deflated the moment by telling him he was wrong – that he didn’t understand.
Thinking about Chris saying how he hated the cliché, I came up with a new tactic when asked about why I ride. No longer will I go for the default “If I have to explain it…” bit. Now my response will be more in this vein:
Q: “Why do you ride that silly motorcycle? You are going to kill yourself?”
A: “I realize it is an activity with a high risk of injury, but let me try and explain the joy I get from riding. Motorcycling is the closest thing I imagine to flying in an open-cockpit biplane. I suffer from high anxiety and the feeling of the wind rushing past me provides a sense of calm I can find in no other activity. The g-force I feel when I take off from a stop is similar to being pinned back in the seat of a dragster. I really enjoy that sense of acceleration. Dipping into the curves is a direct parallel to riding the Cyclone at Coney Island where I have spent many a summer introducing friends to the adrenaline the wooden beast serves up by the plateful. Does this help shed a little light on why I ride?”
With this new mindset I smash another old cliché – “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Sure you can, if the dog is willing to listen. So a big thanks to Chris for his honestly and making me rethink a stock answer that I’ve used infinitely too many times. I’ve got a new answer now, and hopefully the effect will attract more people to motorcycling instead of pushing them away.