The Taco Tuesday ride.
The Taco Tuesday ride.
Image: Kojo Baffoe

Someone, obviously a motorcycle rider, once said, “Everything looks better from the inside of a motorcycle helmet.”

The sound of the wind, the world seen through a visor, the vibration between your legs, the smells that whip in and out of your helmet — some pleasant, some not so pleasant — the calm and stillness of the mind, despite your body hurtling through space at the whim of the throttle … these are some of the reasons I ride a motorcycle.

Granted I only discovered these after learning to ride. I couldn’t know these things looking from the pavement or hearing the beautiful roar of a motorcycle in the distance. As with many of life’s more enriching experiences, you actually have to live it to get it. It simply can’t be described.

The one aspect of motorcycle riding that I didn’t need to experience to know I wasn’t interested in it was the motorcycle club. I have shared my thoughts on motorcycle clubs previously as well as my apprehension with group riding, which I won’t go into again. While this has earned me a bit of a reputation for being a lone ranger and while I do enjoy solo rides, there is also something about connecting with other motorcycle enthusiasts and bikers.

A friend of mine recently bought a motorcycle. He owns one in a European country that he rides regularly when there but has never ridden in SA, where he spends most of his time. We went out on an easy Sunday morning ride and he was impressed by how readily motorcycle riders on South African roads will acknowledge other riders, usually with a head nod. It doesn’t matter what creed, religion, race, profession, age, etc. you are, you are a fellow rider and, in that moment, that’s all that is important. You are connected by the desire to “saddle up” and ride somewhere, with or without purpose.

Walk into a place carrying a helmet and those that also ride will often find a way to let you know that they too ride.

Also, in these social media times, we gravitate towards each other in interesting ways, and it can be easy to find those with the same interests using hashtags and the like. We gravitate to each other online and then connect on the road in a way that doesn’t feel forced. There is no pressure or expectation. Someone will say they are going out on such and such a day, and those that are available or interested will join.

In addition, increasingly, there are riding experiences put together by various companies, collectives or groups that, while perhaps sponsored by a motorcycle manufacturer, are open to all bikers, regardless of motorcycle or riding ability. About a month ago, I finally went out for Johannesburg-based Bonafide Moto Co’s Taco Tuesday, which has been running for years.

Open to all, everyone meets up at Munro Drive Viewpoint in Houghton in the early evening, which usually has beautiful views of Joburg and the sunset. We spent an hour chatting before navigating the city to a Mexican restaurant for tacos and conversation. I finally met someone whose motorcycle adventures I have been following for a couple of years now. I also met a young man from my father’s land, Ghana, who is training to be a pilot.

At our table, we talked ice baths and cold showers, parenting, managing temper, and, of course, motorcycles. Two hours later, I rode home with a full stomach and a mind enriched with differing perspectives.

Atul Gawande is quoted as saying, “Human beings are social creatures. We are social not just in the trivial sense that we like company, and not just in the obvious sense that we each depend on others. We are social in a more elemental way: simply to exist as a normal human being requires interaction with other people.”

There is a camaraderie built into the love for living on two wheels. Even for those of us who lean towards solitude.

© Wanted 2024 - If you would like to reproduce this article please email us.