I’ve owned motorcycles my entire life, beginning by converting a golf cart to a three-wheeled motorcycle at age fifteen. Years later I learned that friends and foes alike laughed at me as I drove my contraption to high school every morning. They probably didn’t laugh at the next one, a 1947 Harley Davidson 74 Pan Head.

Over the decades I’ve bought mostly new bikes, made in Japan, America, Germany, Italy and Great Britain, from small motor scooters to behemoths. My current ride is a Victory Kingpin, made in Spirit Lake, Iowa, and quite possibly the best one of them all.

There is more variation in motorcycles than any other vehicle. You can dial one in with precision to your size, interests, aesthetic taste and intended use. Currently, there are fabulous electric motorcycles on the market as well.

Although we are all brothers and sisters In the Wind, be advised there is a pecking order: HarleyDavidson and their custom derivatives are number one. Everything else is either subtly or not so subtly looked down upon. Then there are motor scooters. They are adored in Europe and third world countries, less so in America. Taking up the rear are the moped people. Mopeds are classified as motor-driven bicycles, although they are actually much more sophisticated. Their owners are regarded by most as - eccentric - to be kind.

I was a victim of this caste system a few years ago while riding on a veteran’s run in the Gold Country of Northern California. At one of the stops, a gray beard on a Harley said he was lost, and could he follow me to the next checkpoint. I said, “Of course, but I’m riding a motor scooter.” I never saw him again.

When the subject comes up, someone will invariably say, wistfully, “I used to have a motorcycle, but then I got married, had a child, bought a house, etc.” This disclosure lasers into my counter transference.

I desperately want to reply, “Oh yeah? I’ve got all of that too, what Zorba the Greek called ‘The full catastrophe,’ and I still ride. What’s the matter with you?” So far I have not said that. Here, I must acknowledge my wife of 46 years, Elba, who has indulged my passion. While she’s only ridden with me three times (messes up her hair) the only thing she has ever said is, “Be careful.” Also, without hesitation, she has allowed me to give rides to our four children and three grandchildren, most of whom instinctively say, “Faster!”

The truth of the matter is my bikes spend most of their time in my garage, with me atop drinking beer and listening to music.

(Safer that way than being out on the highway, although I have failed in the dismount maneuver in the garage a few times. Indoor-outdoor carpet does soften the blow somewhat.)

Most people are afraid of motorcycles: They are dangerous, you know. Or worse, they have contempt for them likely due to bad boy biker images, loud engines, and young riders on sport bikes (crotch rockets) weaving in and out of traffic at high speeds. I alternate engraved license plate frames which read, “Freedom Fighter” and “Organ Donor.”

The joy of riding a motorcycle

It is impossible to describe the joy of riding a motorcycle. Think of a bicycle at 70 miles per hour with a powerful engine below. Both hands and feet are affixed to controls, and all senses are aroused, including olfactory.

One has – necessarily – 360-degree awareness. Ever so subtle body movement changes one’s direction. On mountain roads, it becomes a transcendental experience. You become one with the machine, the road, and nature. It is quite therapeutic really. My daughter sent me a sweatshirt that observes, “You don’t see motorcycles parked in front of a psychiatrist’s office.”

I particularly like to see women on motorcycles, a number that increases every year. A 130-pound lady on an eight hundred pound Harley is not for the faint-hearted.

This meditation is not so much about owning a motorcycle as it is about having what you want. There are only two good reasons for possessing anything: 1. Utility, and 2. You enjoy having it.

For everything else, get rid of it. This is not about materialism either. As Werner Erhard of Erhard Seminars Training (EST) said, “You can never get enough of what you do not really want.”

Values Clarification: Do I know what is important to me?

This is about values clarification: do I know what is important to me? Does my behavior reflect my priorities? Am I allocating the only two things I have in this life, my time and my body, to the right places? Or, have I lost my way? Am I making payments on stuff I really don’t need or want? Am I in a job I don’t like? Am I in a relationship(s) that cause me pain? Is the life I have built the life I want? Is it time for a course correction?

There was a TV series aired in 1969 and 1970 called “Then Came Bronson,” starring Michael Parks.

It was about a vagabond riding a Harley Sportster who would come into town, solve a major problem, then leave. In each opening episode, Bronson rides up to a stoplight in San Francisco, encounters a businessman commuting in his car.* The commuter loosens his tie and says to Bronson, “Takin’ a trip?”

“What’s that?”

“Takin’ a trip?”


“Where to?”

“Oh, I don’t know - wherever I end up I guess.”

“Man, I wish I was you.”



“Well - hang in there.”

*That actor is Stu Klitsner, at the time a high school English teacher at my school, Las Lomas, in Walnut Creek, California. Stu, in his eighties, is still acting.