The Thrilling, Sensual, Restorative Power of Motorcycle Riding
As pandemic weeks turn into months and the self-isolation becomes unbearable, Biker Opening Day quickly approaches with engines silent and eyeballs ablaze with visions of the open road and destinations yet traveled. There may be nothing you can legally do with your body more exciting than grabbing your partner and jumping on a motorcycle. No other human experience heightens senses and ignites instincts like climbing atop a great chuffing beast and hurling your body through space.
Stubborn Hollywood stereotypes depict enthusiasts as apelike hooligans, wiling away their aimless lives playing psycho knife games, drinking themselves senseless and, on occasional Sundays, hiding behind old billboards on lonely desert roads waiting to ambush the next church-going family in a wood-paneled station wagon, going Mad Max on their sweater-vest wearing, smiley asses—or otherwise marauding, pillaging and spreading general mischief and mayhem. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
The Wild Ones Undone
Although some enthusiasts embrace the bad-boy image, wearing it on weekends like a familiar coat, most cringe when we’re portrayed as furry, raw-meat-eating Neanderthals. When Peter Fonda says to the local police chief in the pre-Easy Rider biker flick The Wild Angels: “We want the right to get loaded, ride our ’cycles and not get hassled by The Man,” it was a nice sentiment, but it made real motorcyclists guffaw.
We hardly ever plunder, and I personally haven’t had a good maraud in months. Contrary to colorful fictions, motorcyclists are more prone to be math teachers (Ted) than pelt-clad Huns. Well yes, we do wear leather, but in a good way. There’s a primal sensuality to animal hides pressing against naked flesh.
Motorcyclists are romantic as hell. We ride, not to fulfill a death wish, but to feel more alive. Flying through the wind is wild fun, and fun is arousing. Often expressive, sometimes poetic, motorcyclists see life differently. There is a rapture to the road, a street spirituality that makes bikers feel more connected to their surroundings, and each other. Passion is our copilot; it rides with us, pushing us to the next intense, freeing moment.
Girls on Wheels
Once almost exclusively the domain of men, the motorcycle world is populated by a quickly growing number of women, independent and with great ardor for lusty adventure. Endless social isolation has created a suppressed desire to explode on the road. But there is something else. That passion, combined with the stay-at-home anchor we’ve been living with, may have conspired to create the next baby boom, right now, as this is written, word by word.
Taj, 40, a former international fashion model and relative newcomer, has embraced the new social order. “I enjoy a heightened and constant state of arousal,” she says. “Biking is a very sexy experience, rolling down the road with all that power between your legs and each other’s pheromones blowing through your hair, looking for a colder beer, a hotter dance floor, a spot on the river to skinny dip.”
Women now comprise the largest segment of new bike owners, accounting for about 25 percent of sales. Add a bottled up riding season and the naturally amorous thoughts of springtime, and motorcycling turns irrepressibly seductive.
Two for the Road
But motorcycles can do more than fire up the spirit; they can inspire new romance and help long-time partners reconnect, allowing struggling couples to scrub off petty differences, uncovering what they love and respect in one another. Biking can even save your marriage.
Tom, 52, credits a long bike trip for salvaging his relationship with his wife, Linda. Their 12-year marriage was on the rocks until they rediscovered the road, and each other. “I hadn’t owned a bike in years,” Tom recalls,” but a smoking deal fell into my lap I couldn’t ignore. Only thing, I live in Pennsylvania and the bike was on the West Coast… I thought this could be exactly what we need, a road trip together, a chance to get to know each other in a way we never have.”
So, the couple flew out and rode home, encountering pelting rain, high winds and some “damn miserable freezing cold” along the way. “I have to give Linda credit,” Tom admits. “She really hung in there. What a trooper. You can know someone for years and still not know their mettle. We worked a lot out on that trip; it was a breakthrough. That bike has brought us closer together, it’s changed us.” It worked so well the first time, Tom and Linda are planning to repeat the ride this summer once the all clear is given. “Things are opening up slowly, but hopefully in another month or two we’ll be good to go,” adds Tom.
The Sensual Zen of Horsepower
Sandy, 57, said since taking up the sport only a year ago, she gets a lot more attention—which led to a dating surge, which led to several spontaneous marriage proposals. “Funny things happen when you’re not looking,” she says. “Suddenly, I was more popular than ever. It was a very pleasant surprise, and I’m just rolling with it, having a blast.”
Bob, 54 and looking more like 34, has been riding since he was 16. “I thought the zing had left, I think because I pretty much stopped riding for a long time. When I got back into it about six months ago, I wondered why the hell I wasted so much of my life off two wheels. It gave me a better attitude and more self-confidence; otherwise, I don’t know if things would have gone so well with my new wife, Jeanne. She loves the lifestyle.”
Says Phoenix, AZ-based relationship therapist, Felice Goff, MSW/LCSW, “One of the essential tasks of creating a healthy relationship is building togetherness and autonomy. This means putting together a shared vision of how the couple wants to spend their lives together, constructing the psychological identity of the marriage as an entity in itself. There needs to a sense of ‘we-ness’ and also room for autonomy of the ‘I.’ Struggling couples often are missing the intimacy of the ‘we.’ Motorcycling is one shared vision that can help the couple strengthen the marital identity.”
Goff suggests that motorcycling can improve a couple’s sense of identity by providing a feeling of belonging. “Belonging is necessary for self-esteem,” she explains, “and the partnership will fare better with high self-esteem.”
“Motorcyclists have their own subculture, including language, history, traditions, social behavior and skills,” she continues. “While in our society there are many social groups for singles, there are few for couples. If you join a motorcycle club you have an immediate sense of belonging… biking provides a common focus. It’s something the couple can talk about, plan and do together that is pleasurable, reasonable in cost and readily available. It takes [them] away from daily stressors, work and chores. Motorcycling together is what therapists term ‘quality time—an activity that requires interaction, as opposed to something passive.”
Being on a bike together requires “trust, communication, cooperation and negotiation whether the couple rides together or separately,” Goff notes. “Hopefully, these skills will transfer in other settings. While riding together and physically touching might be more sensual, riding separately might support sometimes-needed separateness.”
But What Does Sex Have To Do With It?
“What could be more exciting and sensual than the freedom of the road, an outdoor environment or travel to unexplored places?” Goff posits. “Roles are more fluid while traveling than at home, and the couple can be who they want to be.”
For couples, the ride represents a special partnership, a bond that often brings them closer in ways nothing else can. It’s facing death and sharing adventure together, finding fun places, prevailing over the elements, exploring the wide-open road, and sharing something that goes far above and beyond quiet little dinners and watching streaming channels.
“Give a couple a bike and it becomes a power threesome,” says Nita, 36. “Really, why do you think I ride? The sun, the wind on my bare skin, the adrenalin rush and that sweet engine vibration—it gets me off. Yes, it’s true, on some bikes, Harleys mostly, I can literally have an orgasm. I love it.”
Motorcycle riding, individually and as a couple, is thrilling, sensual, restorative, healing. So as the world slowly begins to open back up, let’s take advantage and take a ride. It will do us much good- body, mind, and spirit.
J. Joshua Placa