I am not a biker anymore.
I hang up the gloves, I put away the Belstaff and the Shoei.
After 27 years of smoking and backfiring motorcycles, look back and curtain down on my daily practice of motorized 2 wheels.
The mythical 500 XT, here my 1977 model. The big mono with legendary kick returns...
There was a daring period, when every turn, every traffic circle was a party. A joyful occasion to take a maximum of angle to frantically scrape the footbraces and thus provoke a very enjoyable spray of sparks.
The one in the picture below was mounted on my old Harley 1200 Sportster, whose ground clearance (even if generously increased by me) was definitely too low for our tortuous European roads.
1200 Sportster Harley 2005 (Supertrapp exhausts, EMC shock absorbers, carb + Stage 1 filter, offset and raised swingarm intake, oil-tared fork + springs).
Review of these years, I fell with half of my motorcycles, about twenty, but I liked it, too :-D!
There were obviously a few fractured ribs, a few shreds of damaged skin, several ruined tanks, holes in jeans and great scares for the whole family, but that makes memories...
The truth is that despite these pieces of bravery, I remained what in biker language is called a "leek". That is to say a guy who is not really talented, who often takes the brakes too early, with a very approximate feeling of grip, an unconvincing science of the trajectory and an instinctive bad faith claiming that if I do not drive fast, it is to better enjoy the landscape. My only pride, however, was to ride in all weathers. Whether it's raining, windy or snowing, I've never succumbed to the cowardly solution of the average motorist, hidden warm with his air conditioning and his car radio. I was what bikers call an "forever-rider". This is the only vainglory that linked me to the JoeBarTeamesque term of "pure". For the rest, piloting and mechanics included, I was only motivated if I wasn't really talented. The important thing is that the pleasure has always always been there.
A few years later, having become a responsible dad, the motorcycle was elevated to the rank of art of living, a way of remaining young and free, the time of the journey in any case: one of my old leathers still proudly claims it in the language of Shakespeare (well, of Hemingway in this case).
To be a biker was to buy a slice of rebellious spirit on the cheap. Sweating under the scorching sun, smelling the smell of freshly cut wheat, the stench of diesel, waking up the neighbors in the early morning (that's not true, I never started early enough).
Riding vintage bikes in particular meant acquiring a culture, making the link between generations of riders, learning history, understanding the men who made it, discovering sensations as varied as each bike can be. I loved appropriating the spirit of each cycle part, each engine and this man-machine relationship is ultimately very close to the link that connects an artist to his instrument, even if it were objectively only a piece of inert metal. . But there too, a sound, a character, a defect, a breath and everything comes alive. The old ones, with their whims and their complicated daily stories, really have a crazy charm (I'm talking about motorcycles).
600 Monster Ducati 1994, silencer with rock wool...or not...
At 40, gentrified by the passage of time, I had even become a modest collector, and my students will often have suffered from my old things which did not start at sunrise. My garage will therefore no longer see these multiple companions that have punctuated a quarter of a century of weekly journeys. The "Choulans" climb that brought me to the conservatory for so many years will no longer be the scene of my fierce desire for perfection in search of the ideal trajectory on the 4 bends that make it up.
Z57C Motobécane 1956 / 1100S Multistrada Ducati 2007 / R65 LS BMW 1982 / 175 CT1 Yamaha 1974 / T100T Daytona Triumph 1973
Today I don't feel like it anymore. The legitimate speed limits imposed by the frenzy of transport in the Lyonnaise traffic no longer allow me to roll up with delight. Moped and scooters now overtake me and my old-school biker manhood takes a hit. I spend my time doing gymkhana with warning lights in overloaded traffic and very often, resigned, I finally resolve to drive like a motorist so as not to annoy everyone by claiming fictitious and unjustifiable privileges. It's no longer funny.
Also I must admit that I no longer find myself in the contemporary biker community. I feel very lonely in the winter, and when the good weather arrives, I often feel a sense of shame in front of the noisy behavior of the kékés in T-shirts who no longer even give a sign to the old BM-ist that I have become.
Finally, there is this ecological conscience that torments me more and more and that means that I no longer want/can support the model that I stuffed myself with for 3 decades. My garage will remain orphan of its good smells of gasoline and oil, but I know it, I feel it, a new adventure begins!
F800GS 2011 BMW
So after 27 years of beautiful Italians, solid Germans, docile Japanese and charming English (bikes), I am giving up my arms and officially moving on to ………………. electric bike !!!
Well ok it's not dreaming, but I'm more at an age where you have to think about slimming down your belly than seducing damsels.
It would be even better non electric, of course, but my fifty-year-old physique is starting to show the weight of the years and I no longer have the necessary margin to climb the hill of Fourvière smelling like a rose at the finish. I kind of take care of my students. I also have a feeling that night returns, in the rain with the headwind, will quickly justify the guilty choice of this little engine.
Come on, almost 20 kilometers to reach the conservatoire, as many to come back, it's playable. I must at all costs improve myself on a daily basis to inevitably become an old man without inexorably becoming an old fart.
View from my classroom
This last year will have seen the birth around me of little Warlis, Alice, Margot, Luna, Brin-Pascal, Amadi, Enej and a few others.
In 10 years these kids will be old enough to understand.
In 20 years they will be old enough to judge.
In 30 they will have to choose my epitaph.
Grandpa Michat will have ended his international career and therefore no longer flies to practice his art.1 point.
Tonton Michat, although he always eats organic and local food, has only been strictly vegetarian for 2 years.0.5 points.
Grandfather Michat has always lived without a cell phone.2 points (that they will never understand)
The old man rides a bike every day but owns a diesel van for the holidays.-1 point.
Well, my carbon footprint is reduced but I'm still far from 2 tonnes/year.
950 Adventure KTM 2007 of my brother
I have no illusions about the derisory scope of this micro-change. And to be completely honest, I have very little hope for my descendants.
I am fully aware of the intrinsic contradiction between my wealthy European lifestyle and my planetary ecological aspirations. I know the 8 billion humans, I know their poverty, I know the productivist ogre who drives our delirium of infinite growth in a finite world.
So my ridiculous electric bike assembled in Spain but probably made in China with its lithium battery that comes from I don't know where, pppffff... let's say it's a micro-attempt at transition. A redemption of good conscience too. Like the hummingbird in the Native American fable made popular by Pierre Rhabi, I can just say "I did my part". A little late since I stuffed myself for decades and for not much, but I will have done it. For the time being, my splendid VTCE has been ordered since August, I am patiently waiting for the international situation to deliver all its parts to it and in the meantime, I am starting to lose pounds to anticipate a little...