When I was in elementary school, we've had a chance of taking some sort of preliminary driver's exam to qualify us to obtain a driving license for motorcycles of up to 50ccm, probably when we would reach the age of 15 (I don't remember the details). After some persuading (or incessant begging), my mother allowed me to enrol in the program. She probably thought this is a phase I will get over soon as I was always notorious for starting and never finishing things.
However, my zeal for motorcycles didn't let up and it seemed like I was well under way of acing the preliminary tests. When she realised driving was much better of a motivator for me than knowledge in math or physics my mother had to change her initial approval and she simply told me regardless of the license I will never own a motorcycle while living with my parents.
So, years went on and I got my proper driver's license at the age of 18 and spent a few years happily driving family car and enjoying every second of it. Later on I got a car of my own and while the thought of a motorcycle never left me. I was in a way glad I am not riding on two wheels as I was prone to fast driving and had a few accidents by the time I was done with college...no serious injuries though. Just when it started to look like I am destined to remain safely grounded with four wheeled vehicles for the rest of my life, I started working in Dubrovnik's tourism sector and you can't properly do any job in Dubrovnik that takes you out of the office during a summer season without at least a scooter. This city's traffic in the last 10-12 years is so dense during hot summer months it gets impossible to get anywhere in time without planning in advance and giving yourself more time for commuting than good people of New York or Beijing do.
Scooters are the most popular go-to solution for many of us. At the age of 25 I was getting ready to buy one myself, but my regular B category license would allow me only 50cc machines or weaker. For someone standing around 6'6'' with a pretty constant few pounds extra around the waste, these small machines didn't offer much in the way of power or excitement. This lead me to enrol in driving school once more to obtain my motorcycle permit.
I got my first 250cc maxi scooter, enjoyed it thoroughly for 5 years and realised along the way, the old desire was back.
After a while, it became apparent, I will not rest until trying out something more serious. I ended up on a 650cc machine which I still own and might be replacing for something similar or even more powerful these days. My motorcycle is not a racer by any means, more like a commuter and a weekend traveller, but it is perfectly capable of getting my blood pumping on the open road.
The point is, I never got over the idea of riding. It's one of those things in life you are either crazy about or have no interest in at all. As a child the idea of it seemed too bold to be doable, but it was so attractive I had to try. There is a sense of freedom tied to it that is hard to put into words. I love driving cars and am addicted to being on the move. There is something about motorcycles though... some strange attraction that is unique to these machines.
It's all about the movement. About becoming one with a machine. While in cars you have your cockpit, interior, commands, music; on a motorcycle, you have the engine, the handlebars, the seat, wheels and brakes. It's a much more stripped down machine. You have to use your whole body to make it move and turn. You can see the surface of the road under your feet, flying by. You can feel the wind. Physical forces you are playing with are pushing you outwards and pulling you in as you carve the corners and accelerate away.
It's a profound experience that can be meditative, exciting, relaxing, or scary, sometimes all of the above in the span of ten minutes. Yes, it can be dangerous and crashes are a horrible experience, but I love it too much to let that bug me. It is one of the little joys that make life worth living and I'm glad I discovered it.
Bozidar Jukic, AKA The Restless Native, is a Dubrovnik local with too many interests to name them all, with writing being at the very top of the list. He is a lover of good food, music and film, and a firm believer in the healing power of laughter. His professional orientation is towards tourism and travel so it comes as no surprise he spends most of his time alongside Mrs. Jukic running their own local tour company. Their goal is helping travellers from all over the world get a more intimate experience of Dubrovnik and what it has to offer. To find out more about their work, visit their website or Facebook page.