“Why We Ride” is a Must Watch

'Why We Ride' Movie Poster

‘Why We Ride’ Movie Poster

Why We Ride: A Documentary For Motorcyclists

It’s a challenge to explain to people why we choose to ride motorcycles. How can you possibly put into words the excitement and fulfillment that comes from riding without sounding crazy to someone who’s never ridden? The Why We Ride documentary did just that in a way that left chills on my skin and tears in my eyes.

During the movie, we meet racers, war veterans, mothers, stunt riders, bike builders, kids, grand parents and authors. They each have their own reason for riding but the most important theme throughout the movie is that riding a motorcycle levels out the playing field for humanity. When it comes to riding a motorcycle, we are all part of one creed, one family, one way of life regardless of disability, background, age, race, sex, occupation or beliefs. It makes me realize if everyone in the world rode a motorcycle, there would be no war. Or at least the wars would stop long enough to go for a ride together. This movie is the perfect portrayal of what riding is all about.

A motorcycle is a vessel for freedom, a means to bind a family together, a way to bring a lost soul into light through challenges, lessons, direction and most importantly, fun. Motorcycles can be motivation for a better life. You can teach a child discipline and follow through by teaching them to ride a motorcycle. You can make a disabled person a hero and a role model by building a bike to their needs so their disabilities are no longer handicaps. You can help a cancer survivor to fight the effects of chemo by providing a will to live through riding. And finally, you can teach a little girl that she is only bound by the limits she makes for herself – limits that can be beaten if she believes in herself.

This documentary is a classic depiction of the motorcycling way of life and anyone who sees it is bound to learn something about themselves, whether they ride or not. Beautifully filmed at several locations, this film also discusses the history of motorcycling and how it’s closely linked to bicycling. This is important to highlight considering how bicyclists and motorcyclists share the same roads and often ride alongside each other. Sometimes we complain about each other, but this film shows how our roots stem from the same place.

But one reason this film really got to me, especially because of MotoInked, is that it explained how motorcycling, like tattoos, is an art form, a lifestyle, a form of self expression and a means for healing. It’s a way to pull a complacent population away from their computers and phones so they can experience the open air. Rather than going through the motions, a motorcycle can pull back the curtains of a dormant existence and show anyone with a need for adventure the advantage of going outside.

The only downside of the film was how the genre of freestyle riding we left out. Freestyle stunt riding has acquired such a huge following. The riders who participate in the sport spend hours a day practicing and lose sleep most nights fixing their bikes to so they can do it all again the next day. Still, stunt riders are a breed all their own, worthy of their own documentary.

Why We Ride is a documentary for the every-day rider, the people who’d be otherwise average if not for two wheels, which is why riding is so extremely important. People can find greatness through riding, a greatness they may not have known without it.

What I loved most about this video was that it showed how all riders throughout all genres of motorcycling are family. Whether you’re broke down on the side of the road or waving to another rider in passing, you’ll meet “some of the friendliest people” on motorcycles and “make friends for life.” People who ride can “restore your faith in humanity.” And that is why this documentary hits the nail on the head.

Favorite Quotes from the movie:

About teaching kids to ride

“I took her for her first ride. Hopefully she’ll take me for my last.”

About the value of training:

“I thought I had 26 years of riding experience. But I just had one year of riding that I experienced 26 times.”

About making it possible, regardless of background:

“It’s not about strength or even bravery. It’s about determination.”

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“You only get one lap in this life, make it count.” by Jen Dunstan

Jen with her SV, Angie, in Virginia

Jen with her SV, Angie, in Virginia

Jen Dunstan, formerly Jen Ross, has been around the motorcycle industry for several years. She has road raced in the vintage class back east and is currently #70 with CVMA. She also contributes articles and test rides for MotorcycleUSA.com. As she plays such an integral part in this recovering industry, it adds so much weight to what you’re about to read. 

I have always respected Jen as a rider and racer. Her words below remind me so much of me and the emotions I’ve felt over the years after losing so many of my friends to motorcycle accidents. But she sees a bright side to it all and it’s that bright side that drives us as riders to see past the danger and go on living our lives as best we know how. Thank you for these words Jen. Cheers.

 

321328_705865378135_440170260_nBy Jen Dunstan via Facebook:

“Yesterday there was a motorcycle fatality on the I-15 freeway. My co-worker saw the wreckage, and our printer knew the lady rider well. Her name was Wendy. Wendy was riding her Harley during her morning commute to work. It just another regular day, but then a pick-up truck on the opposite side of the freeway punched through the cement jersey barrier. The force of the flying cement fragments tore Wendy off her motorcycle (which continued riderless for many feet) and into traffic, where she met her end. Wendy’s fiancee was also commuting to work, and drove by the wreckage, not realizing his whole world had changed until he spotted her crashed motorcycle.

Jen with husband, Alex

Jen with husband, Alex

I cleaned my street bike today. It was covered in dust. The last time I rode it was nearly seven months ago on a quick jaunt around the neighborhood to make sure she still runs. I crashed on a California freeway last year, I had a bruise or two and some cosmetic damage to the bike. I wiped the rag across the scraped paint, over the hole where a blinker should be. I thought about my husband finding me dead, I thought about me finding him dead. My heart tumbled and ached for Wendy’s fiancee. I admired the shiny clean side of my gleaming silver SV, I frowned at the marred fairing on the other side.

The two sides of the coin. Metallic beauty on one side, and mangled, scarred plastic on the other. Heads or tails. Life or death. More than ever, I reconsidered keeping my street bike. I reconsidered the dangers of racing. More than ever, I counted all the lucky stars for my husband, my friends, my family, my life.

But I can’t live in fear because life is too short. Eventually we will all meet an end. We do not get to choose when, we do not get to choose where, or how. But we can choose how we live. Hug your loved ones, live for each moment of each day, live with no regrets. You only get one lap in this life, make it count.”

Five Questions with Tina Sulano

“I think riding and tattoos are similar because like a tattoo, your bike is an expression of who you are.” 

Tina with her Ninja 250R

Tina with her Ninja 250R

 

Tina dressed in 50's style

Tina dressed in 50’s style

Tina is a tattoo artist and motorcycle rider who lives in Roxbury, New Jersey. Here are some of her thoughts about riding and tattooing.

What is it about body ink that fascinates you and how does it inspire you as an artist?

Tattoos are fascinating because it’s something that is forever (well almost). People can express themselves through tattoos as well as remember a certain time or honor a certain person in their life. Everyone seems to have a story for their tattoos, more so now that it has gone so main stream. I like being a part of their story. My customers inspire me, and my main goal is to make them happy. I want to make sure I can create the image they have in their head. When I see their eyes light up when they see the final result, I’m happy.

Do you prefer to do color or black and grey tattoos? Why?

Me, personally, I like both. I have mostly black and grey for the soul purpose that it matches everything you wear. I enjoy doing color tattoos because you can really make things “pop,” especially if the tattoo is a decent size and the customer is willing to let me do my thing and add my touch. They still get what they want, but there are some things that can be done to make color look so much better. I enjoy doing black and grey tattoos because I know even after baking in the sun for a couple years it will still look pretty good. Just remember, sun block is your friend people!

What’s the most fascinating story you’ve heard about a tattoo so far?

I have heard so many stories I can’t pick just one off the top of my head. I have tattooed a whole family because they lost someone close to them – a 24-year-old that died of lung cancer. Most of the stories I remember are the ones about loosing a family member because they touch my heart more than anything

With tattoos being more accepted, do you think it is more difficult for artists to continue to create something unique? 

The creation comes from the clients head, I help elaborate but it’s pretty much their idea. There is still people that come in and pick a picture off the wall, but now it’s searching google and printing a tattoo that is already on someone else’s body. I try to draw something original for each person and I toss my drawings when I’m done. I don’t want anyone to copy something I already did. Even though I know how easy it is for people to print a picture of one of my tattoos and bring it somewhere, I would just hope the artist is kind enough to draw their own version of it. I don’t think it’s difficult to make something unique because each customer has their own image, as long as their not “picking off the wall”.

It is definitely more competitive now than when I started over 12 years ago.  There was three local shops back then, and now there is at least 12 shops in a 20-mile radius. With the way the economy is right now it’s tough for people to spend their money on something like a tattoo because it’s not something you need to have, it’s something you want. Some people make the mistake of shopping around for the cheapest price. About one percent of the customers that walk in the door ask to see my portfolio. I know some of them searched for the shop online and saw my work on the website, but that’s usually just the younger crowd. If customers went by what’s in your portfolio there wouldn’t be any competition, especially in my area.

Why do you love riding and why do you love tattoos? 

I love riding for the freedom. It’s like an escape from reality. I love tattoos because it makes me money and I make people happy. I think riding and tattoos are similar because like a tattoo, your bike is an expression of who you are. They both make people happy.