Motorcycles Making Memories With Strangers

Motorcycles Making Memories With Strangers

While rolling through my Feedly today I saw a post from Alastair Humphreys called Memories of People from the Briefest Connections.

These scenarios are something that I think about a lot. When I’m on my motorcycle and dressed in my road-dirty gear, in spite of all the bad press and “biker stereotypes” it seems that people tend to find me approachable and will regularly strike up conversations. Far more so than when I’m walking around in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt.

Over the years there have been countless numbers of people who I’ve shared passing pleasantries with. There have been a million quick chats while standing on lines, at gas pumps, in parking lots. Sometimes there are exchanged glances from the side of the road or with a driver in traffic. No words were spoken but there was something, some human interaction that passed between our eyes.

Sometimes a complete stranger will gravitate to you and feel safe enough to share their tale. It can take you by surprise. Their candidness, joy and yes, sometimes sorrow rises to the surface and you become a vessel to take in their story as it pours out.

Why did they pick you? What let them know that you would listen to their dream, to their grief? And why, in my case, is it only when I’m out on my motorcycle? Perhaps that is when I am most relaxed and open and universe is picking up on that.

Years later I will recall a moment out of the blue, a phrase or sentence uttered by a stranger. Sometimes I wonder if there are people out there in the world that remember me too.

What mark do we leave in the mind of a stranger? Let’s try to make it a good one, okay?

10 Replies to “Motorcycles Making Memories With Strangers”

  1. I love it when strangers come up to me to ask about the bike or where I have been on the bike. A lot of bikers give the biker waive, but I even got it from a guy in a car today.

  2. I’ve had both good and bad experiences with strangers. I meet strangers all the time at work and they don’t know I ride a motorcycle. As non-moto me, if the motorcycling topic happens to comes up, their stories are usually doom and gloom and motorcycles are soo dangerous…blah blah blah.
    When moto-me is out and about, the people who approach me usually have good stuff to say and the conversations start and end on a good note. When I’m doing something I enjoy I give off a different vibe than when I’m doing something I enjoy less like work. (much, much, much less) 😉
    So I’d have to agree with you and say YES!, the universe does pick up on that. 🙂

  3. I suspect that it may be that you look more approachable than most motorcyclists. The light colored gear maybe (not black leather). On the Ural, everyone and their brother stops and chats.

    1. I never thought about the color of my gear. Maybe aside from looking like a filthy dirtbag all the time, it sends a signal that I’m harmless?

      Yea, the Ural is a people magnet!

  4. Well-said, Fuzz, and what a timely blog post: Yesterday I was riding back from a moto-camping weekend in eastern Nevada. As my remote dirt road approached a T-junction for a spell of pavement before more remote dirt, I caught up with a fellow dual-sporter. (A side note: For as popular as dual-sports are, I rarely see any off road… What the hell’s up with that?!) He said that he was headed to a nearby, middle-of-nowhere truck stop for fuel and a late lunch. I said I was headed there as well. “Then let’s do lunch,” he replied before we rode off.

    For over two hours I sat in that nowhere truck stop restaurant having incredible moto-conversation with a fellow dual-sporter: We told of our rides, shared the tales of our ridiculous mishaps, laughed at blasted absurdities, and realized how similar our experiences have been. This isn’t like me, to lunch with a stranger and share great conversation, and but for motorcycling, I’d have never done it.

    Now I have a new friend who lives (and owns an auto shop) in one of my favorite little towns in eastern Nevada. He told me to drop him a line when I’m again in that neck of the woods and we’ll hit some of his favorite dirt.

    Motorcycling did this–motorcycling is one of the few activities that can do this.

    1. This is a great story, Ry.

      Do you think other sports or activities solicit this type of connection? Do cyclists, hikers or mountain bikers make friends in this way?

      What is it? What is the link?!

      I keep thinking that as the world becomes smaller and smaller though technology, we are becoming more and more hungry for human connection.

  5. I think you’re spot on about technology, Fuzzy: Gadgets and them there interwebs seem finally to be proving, though indirectly, that they are not viable alternatives to live, human interaction, reminding us that the need for face-to-face time with our own kind is hardwired within. Indeed, maybe we’re finally realizing that technology cannot be a replacement for–but is a supplement to, an accessory to–the ways human beings have interacted since our species emerged. After all, reading a blog about another’s riding experiences–enjoyable as that is–isn’t nearly as thrilling as living one’s own riding experiences.

    Oh, how truly mystifying is the riders’ rapport…

    I grew up doing a lot of hiking, backpacking, and mountain biking, and sure, I’d briefly chat with fellow hikers and riders, but exchanges usually were limited to “Good hike?”, “Good ride?”, or rarely “Where’d you go?” Never were there deeper discussions about equipment or locations, or–especially–philosophical discussions about the experiences, and never would I have sat down for lunch and an hours-long chat with one of those random cyclists or hikers—it simply wouldn’t have been a natural impulse.

    Maybe it’s that there is more at stake with motorcycling: One can travel farther from home faster; it’s a very risky activity; it requires a well-developed set of complex skills and greater problem solving–say, if you end up with a flat in the middle of nowhere; but… That’s no explanation, it’s just self-evident observations.

    Maybe it’s the motorcycles themselves: Every rider knows that a bike is more than just an assemblage of nuts and bolts and rubber and vital fluids, is—indeed—greater than the sum of its parts, possesses a soul, but… Again, that’s no explanation, it’s just perceptions.

    Maybe this is one reason moto-blogs exist: like-minded folks just trying to understand and define yet another enigma. And maybe therein lies an answer, the only one currently available: that motorcyclists reach out to each other, seek an exchange, because they’re trying to better understand the draw… Your fellow rider wants to know why, and believes that you might have an answer.

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