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The author says: "I do not care for much of any rigid belief about what qualifies a person as a motorcyclist. Don’t work on your own motorcycle? That is fine with me. Do you love working on your motorcycle, or did you build it yourself? Fantastic. People problems begin when we begin segmenting others. Taking the attitude that if you do not ride brand X, you are not a real man or woman, or if you do not wrench on your own motorcycle, you are not a real motorcyclist."

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What is a genuine motorcyclist? It is complicated, subjective and probably controversial. I have met and ridden with people from all walks of life, ethnicity, race, religious affiliation and occupation. I have ridden with BMW people, Harley people, Can-Am people, Gold Wing people and “other brand” people. While they all differ in many ways, they all share the love of being in the wind.

I am not a fan of rigid brand loyalty, or the strict belief that only two wheels define a motorcycle. I do not care for much of any rigid belief about what qualifies a person as a motorcyclist. Don’t work on your own motorcycle? That is fine with me. Do you love working on your motorcycle, or did you build it yourself? Fantastic. People problems begin when we begin segmenting others. Taking the attitude that if you do not ride brand X, you are not a real man or woman, or if you do not wrench on your own motorcycle, you are not a real motorcyclist. I do not often use the term “biker.” I do not know what connotation the biker word has, if any. It seems too casual and flippant to apply to men and women who love riding motorcycles.

I have one issue with a motorcycling term. It is when someone states that they drive their motorcycle. One does not drive a motorcycle as one drives an automobile. A motorcycle is mounted and ridden, as in riding a horse. Once again, that terminology is subjective. I try to refrain from correcting anyone who says they drive a motorcycle. It still annoys me, and I apologize for that. The YouTube guy with a channel known as “Bikes and Beards” is an unapologetic motorcycle driver. He has said it more than once. He loves motorcycling and has every right to say that he drives his motorcycle. I still think he is an idiot. That is my opinion. We are all guilty of some rigid thinking, and that is one that I have to own.

Non-motorcyclists often point out the danger that comes with motorcycling. That is always something to consider, but the risk factor is a component of what makes motorcyclists unique. Approaching a motorcycle with the utmost respect for your own mortality and the machine’s ability to challenge it is always on a motorcyclist’s mind. It is the one factor that concentrates the mind’s focus intensely. It is where we discover the actual Zen of motorcycling. All other brain functions become secondary. Your survival and enjoyment are everything. Your problems, worries and annoyances have no place when you are riding. The singularity of thought to the exclusion of all else is the zone.

Other factors are constantly feeding your senses. Temperature, sound, G-forces, road surface: They must all be dealt with in an ever-changing progression. Traffic requires intense concentration because the consequences of a collision in your relatively unprotected state weigh heavily on your cognitive abilities.

I have heard many motorcyclists talk about how their riding is life-affirming. You also hear the same from skydivers, rock climbers, pilots, and that faction of individuals who do things that require extreme concentration. I think it is important to state here that the risk-taking is not the Zen part of the experience. It is the part that might concentrate the mind, but it is also the factor that motivates motorcyclists to learn more about how to mitigate the dangers.

Serious motorcyclists are men and women whom I respect, I feel comfortable with, and I somewhat understand. That is my definition, but as I stated at the outset, it is all highly subjective.

The Morning Almanac with Arlo Mudgett is heard Monday through Saturday mornings on radio stations Oldies KOOL FM 106.7, 96.3, and 106.5 and over Peak-FM 101.9 and 100.7.