The other day I finally got round to watching Easy Rider, a movie that had thusfar been a gaping hole in my cinematic knowledge. The film, an ode to the freedom of the hippie movement of the late 60’s, depicts a road trip across America by two motorcyclists named Wyatt and Billy. They hang out in hippie communes, take drugs and generally do as they please on their way to New Orleans before the shocking and sudden conclusion.
Easy Rider has gone down as a landmark release, not only for the hippies (who were rarely represented as heroes in films previously), but also for the biker community. The stylish image of lank hair, moustache blowing in the breeze and endless highway lending itself beautifully to the effortless cool of the motorized two-wheeler.
Motorcyclists became the public face of rebellion. They eased through traffic and tore down the fast lane. Gangs of bikers emerged, all somewhat oblivious to the sartorial similarities between their alpha male selves and the hardcore gay scene (see also heavy metal). For a certain type of person, of a certain age, the motorbike is the epitome of cool. Sadly, that certain type of person appears to be a complete prat.
For a start, motorbikes are all unfeasibly and unnecessarily loud. They are the transportation equivalent of someone who obnoxiously shouts all their opinions unbelievably loudly as they are walking down the street, just in case someone is listening… Or Twitter as it is now known.
I live opposite a motorcyclist, who returns without fail every night at 12:30 in a cacophony of combusting petrol and misplaced testosterone. I fantasize about leaving a police ‘stinger’ in the middle of the road one evening and drifting off to the lullaby of screeching tires and the crunch of twisted metal. Fortunately for him, my torpescence exceeds my insomnia.
Generally though, bike owners revel in this “LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME!” state by revving their treasured possessions for an eternity before actually embarking on their journey. Whenever the tranquility of a peaceful street is shattered, it’s rarely a pathetic midlife crisis in a Ferrari, it’s more likely to be some attention-seeking arse riding around on a jumped-up scooter.
The curse of two-wheelers is not only extended to the motorized variety though. One of the most irksome fallouts of last summer’s Olympics and the ensuing “Wiggomania” is that the world and his wife appear to have fallen under the false impression that they are the sideburned superstar. Wherever you go in London (and indeed the countryside), people seem to don the sort of equipment designed for the Alpine stage of the Tour de France for their short amble to work in the morning.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s no bad thing that people have been inspired to take up exercise. God knows in this age of rocketing obesity and high cholesterol, it should be applauded that so many have found a way to cut down both their waistlines and their commute, but they really must learn their limitations. As a car driver, there is nothing more frustrating than when you get to the front of a traffic light, seeking a fast getaway, only to be boxed in by a herd of spandex-clad posers with all the acceleration of Lisa Riley.
Back to the petrol-power noise machines though. A retort that is often fired back by the motorbiking community is that ‘haters’, and I’d firmly stick myself in that camp, are just jealous. They are “too chicken” to ride a bike and as such resent the freedom and mobility of the two-wheeled mavericks. This is frankly ridiculous and just goes to show the narcissistic insanity of bikers. Sure, my ideal start to the day doesn’t involve risking my life, but that’s not why I don’t do it. I mean if I wanted to live on the edge, I’d eat chicken tartare and toadstools for lunch and smoke 60 Gauloises a day. The bravery is not really something that crosses my mind.
No, the reason I don’t ride a motorbike is that, while motorcyclists might feel like the heroes of Easy Rider, the reality is that the rest of the world views them more like the Crazy Frog: They’re loud, annoying and perpetually compensating for their tiny penis.
That shouldn’t be something to be proud of.
by Harry Harland