Riding a motorcycle is one of the supreme pleasures in life, and like any hobby, even more so when done as part of a like minded mob. Your typical weekend biker will parttake in an outride, sometimes called a breakfast run, which basically allows bunches of timid middle aged people to dress up in tough-looking leathers, ride out to some neighboring town and have breakfast at a scenic cafe, hoping to attract nervous glances from the locals. After a hearty breakfast of Chelsey buns and diet Sprites, the squad then returns to its home turf, where everyone again disperses into suburbia, with a feeling of disproportionate accomplishment. If you saw the movie Wild Hogs, you’ll get the idea. Anyway, its all quite wonderful.
So when I came across an advertisement a few months ago for a ride organised by one of the local Christian motorcycle clubs I couldn’t resist joining the gang on their outing.
To my relief, the religious side of things was rather low-key, and except for an initial pre-ride prayer, my secret and somewhat irrational fear that we would be expected to stop underneath a highway bridge and deliver some en route testimony was never realized, and the rest of the run was completed in a comparatively secular manner.
It is common knowledge that a motorcycle, while posessing remarkable dynamic safety, is still inherently dangerous. In other words, even at high speeds it is difficult to fall off, but when you do, frankly, you’ve had it. Now I’m no slouch myself, but I just can’t come to terms with the insane speeds that some of these modern motorcycles are capable of. Its just too blindingly fast. Call me a wuss, but I think some things should be left to the professionals. I’ve just seen to many gory easter-weekend pictures.
So I was a bit alarmed when during the return ride, at the end of a long highway straight, I saw a headlight in my rear view mirror approaching at a speed high enough for the Doppler effect to apply. And I’m not talking about noise pitch. I’m talking blue-shift. As the bike screamed passed, I could only make out a plait of blurry blonde hair flapping wildly over the back of an embroidered denim jacket that may or may not have read Riding 4 Jesus. Already leaning hard into the bend, she still managed a friendly nod in my direction before dissapearing around the corner. I suddenly went rather cold. But fortunately, when I came around the same bend an eternity later, I did not encounter her lifeless body and wrecked bike as I half expected I would. She could ride, I’ll give her that.
Now in addition to confirming for me the relativity theory, this episode sent me thinking about bravery and whether it has any correlation with religion. Would you be less reckless if you have afterlife doubts?
That old addage “There are no atheists in foxholes” also came to mind. According to the Wiki, this is meant to suggest that during adverse conditions, even atheists will put some faith in a supreme being for divine assistance. But there is another less flattering interpretation, and the one I always imagined it refers to, namely that atheists are either unpatriotic or not as brave as the religious. Maybe it takes nothing more than a liter superbike to separate the sheep from the goats.