Calling Riding Motorcycles “Wind Therapy” and Needless Guilt for Enjoying Ourselves

Each time I read or hear people refer to riding a motorcycle as “wind therapy” I roll my eyes. Sure, somewhat for the unforgivable corniness (and I’ve got plenty of dad jokes), but it’s more than that.

The thing I find irritating is that we have to brand something as “therapy” in order to legitimize enjoying it. We’re so caught up in both branding and preposterous guilt for enjoying the moments of our lives spent not working that we have justify the simple act of riding a motorcycle as “therapy.” It reminds me of the idea of food as medicine. Sure, some foods have a healing component, but are we really so far from simply enjoying a dish for its own sake that we have to call it medicine to legitimize its existence on our plates?

IMG_8945
Pretty sunrise earlier this week. I’m not going to call it a therapy rise.

I think having so much close technological access to working all the time plays into this. The moments when we’re not on our devices doing some sort of work, when our eyes are watching the curving road, hands busy throttling and braking, feet shifting and leaning, we’re too otherwise absorbed to possibly be working. And for this respite from work, to be in our own heads with our own thoughts, to be providing no financial benefit to anyone (except to the gas and tire and motorcycle companies…) we have to explain away our own enjoyment as “wind therapy.”

In the Midwest, two things we do a lot of is working and apologizing. Beginning a sentence with, “Oh, I’m sorry…” is commonplace. Our culture teaches us to be life-long martyrs for our work and therefore we must apologize for the moments when we’re not working. Calling it therapy is half apology and half hail mary claim that it’s necessary for our health. Nearly every act a person engages in that is enjoyable and not somehow detrimental is therapeutic. We don’t need to brand having a life outside of work as therapy. 

IMG_8605
I enjoy pretty mountain bike trails and don’t need to justify it. Neither should you.

I enjoy skimming the surface in a canoe, ice skating in lieu of cross country ski snow, riding motorcycles and mountain bikes – plenty of activities. Being active is good for my body and brain and soul and I don’t think that makes me unique. I enjoy plenty of sitting still activities too, like writing and reading and sitting in my chair in the dark and thinking, sometimes with jazz on the record player. Bowhunting will always be sitting in the woods listening to birds and hoping to spot a deer. I enjoy those acts simply for being alive and capable enough to do them. Sure, sitting in the woods with your own thoughts can have a healing effect. But I’m not going to start calling the moments I’m simply enjoying my time being alive “therapy.” I just call that having my own life and not being at work all the time – for which none of us should need the justification of a brand or a hashtag or an apology.

The Pinky Fiddy: The Milwaukee moped racing for more than a world record

Milwaukeean Andy Pickett is headed out to the Bonneville Salt Flats in pursuit of a motorcycle world land speed record. But this project is about more than just speed, it’s about honoring and fulfilling a plan between friends. Go here to read my full story for OnMilwaukee. Here he is pictured below during a shakedown run on the “Pinky Fiddy.”

Andy Pickett on the Pinky Fiddy
Andy Pickett on a shakedown run of the “Pinky Fiddy.” photo by Ed Makowski

New outfit for the Bavarian Tractor (my vintage BMW motorcycle)

Now that I’ve graduated college, I have time for fun stuff, like accessorizing my motorcycle with colors. I found this tank on eBay and it’s blue and sparkles. Pretty great, I’m enjoying the splash of color over the standard black tank. Here is my 1976 BMW R75/6 in front of Fuel Cafe in Milwaukee. Swipe to see a close up of the tank.

New work in SIDEBURN Magazine

Pick up your copy of SIDEBURN here, see caption with the picture below for my part in this edition of this beautifully improbable marriage of motorcycle racing and art rendered quarterly on paper.

Film Photographs from Photography Class

I’ve been taking an intro photography class at UW-Milwaukee. Each class in this, my last semester, is an elective. Poetry, drawing, architecture, photography.

Anyhow, the class has so far been taught entirely in black-and-white film. The above are my most recent snaps for an assignment, this time the theme was to capture intersections, in the broad definition of the word.

Below is the first assignment for which I made printed photographs. I’m pretty happy with how the nighttime one turned out.

I wonder, in a few years, looking back at these, what kinds of criticisms I’ll have. For now, I’m enjoying practicing the seeing of a compelling moment and then trying to capture a photograph of it.

Mama Tried Slippery Sunday Ice Racing in Milwaukee

I took a break from homework to swing by the McKinley Marina in Downtown Milwaukee to check out the ice racing for a minute. Got to see the one of many one and only Evel Knievel getting sideways on the ice. The Mama Tried motorcycle show and Flat Out Friday has been taking place this weekend and today is Slippery Sunday.

Riding on the McKinley Marina once Lake Michigan freezes thick enough is a winter tradition in downtown Milwaukee. Drill ice studs into those dirt bike tires and run what you brung. Winter is only so long – get out and enjoy it!

Tiny Poem Thinking About Isadora Duncan

Yesterday I nearly had my own Isadora Duncan moment while riding over the Hoan Bridge in Milwaukee. Two wheels not four.  My immediate thoughts following became this brief poem. If it makes you curious, I’ll leave you to do your own research about Isadora Duncan.

Check out my article in the new SIDEBURN Magazine

I’m excited to have work in the latest edition of SIDEBURN Magazine. The article I wrote and photographed, High School Mechanical, is about the students and mentors of The Iron Angels building and racing a motorcycle. They are the first all-female team participating in the Build Milwaukee Moto Mentor Program. Print and digital copies can be purchased here.

The Iron Angels Complete Their Flat Track Race Motorcycle

Here the @theironangels are putting the final touches on their race bike before the first race this Saturday. They are the first all-female race team to participate in the @buildmoto motorcycle racing program. Logo design by @caro74happy . The tires even have a little bit of practice dirt between the treads. This bike will be raced on a flat dirt track against the other Build Milwaukee bikes for the first time this Saturday. Their garage space is at Harley Davidson University, and the teams currently use Honda CL160 or CL175 bikes. This is the first year that Build is racing flat track instead of road racing. Click the image to see other pictures. Complete story to come…