Last night I went to a one night only showing of Why We Ride, a documentary about motorcycling. I got to see some friends there. My friend Kate, who recruited me for her moto team for the Ride to End Alzheimer’s, had posted about it on Facebook, which is how I found out about the showing. She was there, sporting her Isle of Man TT jacket. (Yes, she went there. Yes, I’m envious.) I also saw Dave and Gina for the first time in years. It’s been a while since Dave and I co-drove my Miata for a two day driving school at Lime Rock that he was instructing (I was one of his students), but it’s a great memory of a great time. Since then we’ve all moved onto motorcycles instead.
In case you haven’t seen it, here’s a preview of the movie.
My relatively new girlfriend Ana was bold enough to enter a theater full of bikers to watch this with me. Her experience with motorcycles so far consists of my talking and writing about it, plus a quick fifteen minute cruise on the back of my bike. She thoroughly enjoyed it, but was bored just sitting there on the back, so she’s already planning to get her motorcycle learner’s permit and take the MSF course in the spring so she can ride her own instead. I guess if she’s bold enough to do that, seeing a motorcycle movie with a bunch of bikers isn’t really a stretch, is it? Anyway, one of the main things I was hoping to get out of this movie was to show her what we’re all about – quite literally, why we ride.
Overall, it was pretty good. It hit on the fun, the beauty, the passion, the addiction – all of the aspects we take for granted but might have trouble explaining to someone who simply doesn’t get it. It went into the history of motorcycles, mostly focused on racing. It followed track racing all the way up through motocross, Bonneville, and Daytona to Moto GP. It made no mention of the Isle of Man TT or the Baja 1000, which are even more amazing in their own ways, and a glaring omission in my book.
Another point the movie really hammered home was how bikers come from all walks of life. A warehouse worker could hobnob with a brain surgeon, with neither knowing the other’s career or income level, and it doesn’t matter. What matters is that they’re both bikers. The movie went out of its way to include women as well – not just hopping on the back of their man’s bike, but riding or racing their own as well. Kids, too – they spent a lot of time on how motorcycling is an activity for the entire family – a little too much, I think, but that’s just my biased opinion as a non-kid person.
The entire movie was clips of interviews with many, many bikers – some famous, some not, with fascinating stories from both. It definitely conveyed the idea that just as interesting as the ride itself is the people you meet while riding, and the camaraderie we have among us, the way we wave at each other and stop to check on fellow riders stopped on the side of the road. It talked about Daytona and Sturgis, though surprisingly not Laconia. There were two stories of trips around the world.
Sadly, for me, at least, there were no stories of trips of any other kind, such as the kind that I do. There seemed to be a vast chasm between going out for a quick ride for fun, racing, and going around the world. There was no mention of the sorts of trips I take at all – packing up for a weekend, a week, or more, and boldly going somewhere you’ve never gone before. It doesn’t have to be trip around the world, or even outside your own little part of the world – I’ve only just left New England on a motorcycle for the first time this year. But touring is a huge part of motorcycling, more accessible than racing, and aside from some montage shots of bikes cruising through beautiful scenery, I feel they missed an opportunity by leaving out this part of the lifestyle.
I understand that there isn’t time to go into every single one of the many, many aspects of motorcycling in an 89 minute film. I still walked out of the theater satisfied that my girlfriend had gotten a good, accurate representation of what this motorcycle thing is all about for me, and that, ultimately, was what counted. I’m quite sure this will end up joining my DVD collection when it comes out.