Perhaps Robert Pirsig says it best in his book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: “You’re completely in contact with it all. You’re in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming.”
This is why we travel by motorcycle. In this era of globalization, there are many inexpensive ways to visit our planet and meet our fellow human beings. However, most of them (planes, taxis, trains, ferries, buses, etc.) require reservations and encase you within a contraption – often heated or air-conditioned – with someone at the wheel, so to speak. Plus, the journeys are often on established routes with few forays into places that are truly off the beaten track.
We want to be in control of our own journey and our own destination. We want to live in the midst of new and different cultures. This leaves us with comparatively few options: a vehicle or a motorcycle.
Traveling Africa by vehicle would mean many, many more stops for bribes and a lot more notice at checkpoints and borders. Vehicles encase you in safety… and keep out the smells of marketplaces and the touches of children. On a motorcycle, I was often surrounded by children and curious women. I was able to get past funeral processions, scoot to the front of the line at roadblocks, evade several hair-raising situations, and generally was unnoticed for bribes or police stops. I found that the community was far more welcoming to a person they could see rather than an expensive box on wheels.
As for the question – are motorcycles safe to travel on? I’ll leave you with this: 49 countries (most of them third-world) with zero accidents. It’s easy to get out of the way on a motorcycle!
MotoCulture. Exploring the world by motorcycle.