Born To Ride: Hogs, Highways, and the Great American Roadtrip
[quote]“When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.”[/quote]
— William Least Heat-Moon, Blue Highways
When I was 12 years old, my mom and I accidentally attended the the Sturgis motorcycle rally. We’d decided to take a road trip to South Dakota (the Black Hills, Mount Rushmore, Wall Drug!), which seemed innocent enough – until we realized the rural highway was occupied by our lone station wagon and thousands of motorcycles. There was a woman with a jungle tattoo on her leg (her jeans strategically ripped to proudly display the scene) and a man pressing a “show us your tits” sign up to our car window (“Don’t look at him!” my mom exclaimed in horror). But there was also grandma and grandpa in their sidecars, and every other variety of diverse bike enthusiast you can imagine – all of whom shared one common interest: taking to the open road.
So why do they do it? For many it’s about riding free in the wind and seeing the country in close proximity to nature. It’s also about the camaraderie they experience – amongst their fellow riders they meet along the way, as well with the local cultures they encounter. There’s even a biker creed dedicated to expressing this collective ethos.
Not all riders go the festival route. Some more daring motorcyclists venture onto the Trans-America Trail. Starting in Tennessee and ending in Oregon, the trail includes dirt and gravel roads, and often dips into creek beds and over railroad grades. It’s not for the novice rider.
Whether feeling the wind on two wheels or cruising along in a car, what is about a road trip that has such timeless appeal? Journey vs. destination, right? And part of that journey includes collecting memories, bonding with your travel companion, and – of course – creating the perfect road trip soundtrack. Road trips offer a sort of displaced time-out-of-time experience that clears our schedules and minds and gives us an endless stretch of open road to contemplate life’s bigger questions – not just the tedium of everyday life.
Maybe, in the words of The Boss, we are actually “born to run”:In the day we sweat it out on the streets of a runaway American dream At night we ride through mansions of glory on suicide machines Sprung from cages out on highway 9, Chrome wheeled, fuel injected and steppin’ out over the line…. …baby I’m just a scared and lonely rider But I gotta find out how it feels
Ready to take to the highway? Grab your chrome wheels and follow these tips:
Watch: Check out The Outcasts, an old BBC documentary that will leave you appreciating both the biker lifestyle and the documentary stylings of the 80’s, or tune into Sons of Anarchy for a more modern-day depiction.
Wear: If you can’t get away, capture the spirit of the journey by absorbing these road trip lessons and then infuse some “biker chic” into your wardrobe: