While I was outside doing some yard work, some motorcycles rode through town. There seem to be more formations of bikes on the road now. Most of the bikes are what I used to call fully dressed.

The bikers got me thinking (a dangerous activity at times).

I used to ride. It was back in the day when you kick started, shifted with the right foot and braked with the left (before the powers to be thought it would be too difficult for us to shift with a car’s braking foot). (I shifted one up and the rest down. The change to one down the rest up was a good one. There were times it was difficult to push down when everything was being forced back.)

Also, when I started, the government hadn’t yet said helmets were mandatory (although I usually wore one, it was great to ride bare headed now and then and listen to how the bike was actually running. Unfortunately, wind in the ears and hair blowing back is a distant but fond memory.

Back to the title. In ‘69, I saw Easy Rider in a decent theatre (good sound big picture). I can’t remember much about the film, but do remember knowing immediately that the photographer (at least the one who filmed the ride through the Louisiana swamp) had ridden. There was a short bit where the camera locked onto a stump and swung, keeping it in view, as they passed. It fit what I observed when riding. When not enclosed in the glass and metal cage of a car, you notice things. When you noticed something of interest, you could actually look at longer than when driving a car

On rides down roads (especially) rural roads, I would spot something and watch it as I passed. This wasn’t inattention. It was just part of being aware of your surroundings. In a car, the front windshield seems to establish a cone of view. In a car, if it isn’t in front of you (the rear view mirrors are in front of you) you probably won’t notice it. This cone doesn’t exist on a bike. That’s why the stump scene had to be filmed (or at least conceived) by a biker.

The thought triggered the bikes that came through? When the bike has a windscreen, big seat back (with woofers mounted at the corners), helmet sound systems etc, do today’s riders still have the old feel of the open road, or are they just driving?

I don’t ride now, my knee gave out and I couldn’t kick my beast, but I miss it and that freedom of the road.