Perhaps you’ve seen the phrase “Live to Ride—Ride to Live” on a T-shirt or bumper sticker somewhere. It has been on my belt buckle for about 30 years. Motorcycling has been a passion of mine pretty much from the day I got my driver’s license. The activity of being in the wind, leaning into corners, the sight of a bike, and the very simplistic nature of the machine, all bring joy.
Some understand, most don’t—my mother being one of the latter. It is a hard thing to explain. Consider the machine itself. Think of it as having the performance of a Corvette but with the fuel economy and space savings of a Smart Car. You can park them practically anywhere, though I’d be the first to admit that practicality wasn’t my first draw.
Piano Man Billy Joel once said he rides to clear the cobwebs out of his head. That’s pretty accurate. Unlike a car, riding a motorcycle requires your immediate full attention. Bad things can happen in a hurry otherwise. No cell phones and few even have radios to distract you from the primary job of riding. You could say motorcyclists are the few people who are actually trying to drive, as opposed to the greater masses out there. One needs to ride as if other drivers are trying to kill you. Once you’ve got that down, you’re pretty much ahead in the game.
Also unlike a car, you experience more sensations and a greater feel for your surroundings—like the smell of the air and the 360-degree panorama that unfolds before you. It’s no wonder people often describe riding as being free, or they comment about the freedom of the wind. Note how a bird banks through its turns -- this is the same feeling one gets when making turns on a bike. When I leave work on my bike, I’m immediately not at work. As soon as I thumb the starter, my mind is on the ride.
Some may still question the sanity of riding in South Florida with our straight-as-an-arrow roads, gridlock, heat, and the not-so-attentive drivers out there. Certainly we’re not like most of the U.S. with wide open, winding, country roads.
But then again, we do have warm temperatures year round, we don’t have to deal with ice and snow and we do have a crown jewel in the Florida Keys. If you haven’t done it on a bike, you haven’t really experienced it. Nothing compares to riding over those emerald waters.
I might ask, from my point of view, why would anyone want to drive a car?
Bill Andrews is a lifetime motorcyclist and photojournalist. He has worked for the Miami Herald and wrote the column "On Two Wheels." He has also worked for the American Motorcyclist Association. He calls Hollywood home and has been a resident of South Florida for most of his life.