George Park – Why I Ride
I’ve been riding, like many, for a long time. When I started riding I may not have really given it much thought – I didn’t do it to be ‘cool’ (I’m still not) but because it was exciting, fun and fast. Thinking about it a little more now that I’m a bit older it comes down to, basically, Coexistence, Challenge & Community.
There is simply no better way to see the world than on 2 wheels. You are involved in the environment, can smell things in real time, feel the temperature changes as you go up or down hills or pass a creek, feel the road as you travel. You need to prepare to face the elements – layer up or down to meet the changing day, pack gear before a trip in case it rains – even as far as putting wax or Rain X on glasses or face shield just to be a little extra prepared. You think a little more about the trip before you leave, add more time, think about the stops you need to make – it be-comes a journey, not just a drive. You’ll get to know how well you and your passenger get along, spend a lot of time together in close proximity. Event the elements help create stories that are remembered by passenger or fellow riders forever. In a car you may not recall it even raining on a trip, on a bike facing Irene in Southern Vermont becomes unforgettable and the long trip home as they close weather damaged roads and bridges epic. The trip may be just you, or you and a passenger, but it’s going to be totally unique & un-forgettable every time you hit the road.
First seeing & hearing my neighbor’s Honda Trail, Bultaco dirt bikes I wanted nothing more than to throw a leg over and start riding. For a long time I had to ride what I could, when I could, as infrequently as people would let me. Later when my father let me ride his 2 Hondas – a Rebel 250 & a Hondamatic 450 – I was determined to ride everywhere I could. I still remember riding that Rebel up the PA Turnpike Northeast Extension and not thinking a second about it. Later riding the Hondamatic and ending up under a car I remember how important planning ahead was, how life can change in an instant and how not getting back on a bike was never an option. Later graduating to sport bikes taking the road was hard work, full of risks that make me realize today how lucky I am but stretched my skills to the limit. Even today, on my ‘03 FLHPI (Police Road King), just riding to relax and enjoy I know each ride will present it’s own challenges. As I get older the challenges are differ-ent, but as a MSF Instructor I try and teach others safe & responsible riding – hoping to help, in some small way, the next generation of riders (no matter their age) meet the challenges they will face.
If you need assistance there is no one group better to ask than the biker community. From kids in need to paying respects to our Heroes: no one gives more time, effort, passion, blood, sweat, cash and tears than motorcyclists. Cash might be tight and there may be a fundraising ride every weekend but bikers come out for these events. Some events may ask simply for your time and respect – Rolling Thunder, riders escorting the Drill Team to the Police & Fire Thrill Show or serving as escorts for 9/11 or Memorial Day parades, the daily runs & flag lines to send those serving away or greet them when they re-turn are all significant acts of compassion and commitment – simply giving time. When my Uncle, a WWII combat [wounded] Veteran, passed away 40 people – Veterans and civilian riders & supporters – he had never met stood up for him at his funeral and graveside in 17 degree weather. Two of the riders who escorted him departed in the snow that had started falling as taps ended and his casket was low-ered. They never asked for, expected or accepted a dime, a morsel of food or any attention. To this day it is a singular unforgettable moment, one my family will never forget.
Riding is my way of relaxing, challenging my-self, seeing the world, spending time with family or friends or complete strangers, meeting new people and seeing new places, and giving back to the Com-munity – and I know I’m not alone in that.
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