I make it pretty plain that I'm a biker. I had my first serious crash in, I think, 1965. '75, '85, '95, '05, what is it now, 2012? I've ridden Europe, N. Africa, most of N. America, a hunk of Central America and a gaggle of island states most of them too small to mention. I've owned Triumphs (Bonneville), Nortons (Atlas & Commando), BSA (Lightning & Spitfire), Matchless, Royal Enfield (Interceptor), Hondas and Yamahas. And, yes, I have seen the inside of an emergency operating room or two although most times I was unconscious and saw nothing.
In my geezerdom I ride this, "The Beast." Since 2006 this has been the mechanized love of my life. It has carried me from the island to eastern Ontario, many times alone the Pacific Coast Highway to the desert, through Mexico. I have left a tip for breakfast in Lethbridge, Alberta and ordered supper from the menu in Kenora, Ontario. There's a true Zen state that comes with riding for hours on end at 90 to 110 mph. Your worries disappear, your mind going into a subconscious zone focused solely on keeping you upright.
Good enough for geezers but it can't erase memories of an earlier time, a younger time, in England. Then bikes were simpler and far more dangerous, much less forgiving. Our gods were Mike "the Hammer" Hailwood and Giacomo "Ago" Agostini. We went to places with names like Silverstone and Brands Hatch to see these immortals. But we also went to motorcycle Mecca, the Isle of Man, for the legendary Tourist Trophy, or TT.
I only managed to go once, when I was 20. I almost went back this year but I had to put it off... maybe next year. Here's just about everything you need to understand what is and has always been the greatest street race on Earth.
At times I think we're going to need a new generation of Hailwoods and Agostinis to inspire us to fight our way through the challenges of the 21st century. Truly fearless people who draw others to emulate them. In this century, it won't be recklessness that kills you.