There’s a guy in my neighborhood who wants to ride my motorcycle. My brand-new motorcycle. Of course, we all want other enthusiasts to look at a bike of ours with aching envy, shuddering with jealousy, gazing at our machine with the begging eyes of a starving dog. But we don’t want a single one of them to ask if they can actually go for a ride. That’s what this guy’s done. I’m sure that, just because he asked, I’m within my rights to shoot him in at least four states.
Sharing is fine and good if it’s French fries, bad advice or the warmth of a fire. But with girlfriends, cigars and motorcycles, no. That’s biker law. Complicating this situation is that if one of us ever did, on his own, decide to offer our bike up for someone to ride, it wouldn’t be to someone who’d asked if he could ride it. That’s an age-old biker rule, too: Having asked automatically excludes a person from ever being considered to ride your bike. That’s because having asked guarantees bad manners all around. Off he’d go, launching into a wobbling wheelie, returning in a sliding stop with the rear brake locked, capping off the ride by staring you in the eye with feigned innocence and a smile. If you’re lucky, he’ll give you this look while handing your bike back to you. If you’re not lucky, he’ll give you the look while sprawled on the pavement at your feet, your bike on top of him.
This isn’t the first time such a thing has happened to me. In my first year as a novice roadracer, a corner worker approached me during a lunch break at a WERA event at Roebling Road, Georgia, asking if he could borrow my bike for a couple of Expert races. Before I could respond, he quickly added that he’d split his winnings with me, even-up, after he won the two races he planned to enter. He assured me that winning was basically a done deal, if someone would just lend him a bike.
Forget that I had a particularly uncompetitive bike, that this guy was easily 6-foot-2 and weighed well over 270 pounds, and that I’d never seen his name listed in racing results. What racer shows up at a track without a bike? And since this guy chose me, in particular, as the dupe who’d hand his bike over to him to race, I was forced to accept that I look way stupider than I’d always hoped.