A Rider's Journal
photo of the author reflected in mirror mosaic
Putting the pieces together.

How I became a rider

Sometime in early 2003, I was flying home to Memphis from Washington D.C. Sitting next to me was a younger (30-ish) guy who was a pilot for a commuter airline.

As we came in for a landing, we saw a group of kids ripping around an empty field on dirt bikes.  It was a sunny, warm winter day and they seemed to be having a great time.

We were both leaning over, looking out the window.  My seatmate said he wished he knew how to ride a motorcycle; he'd been on one a couple times, but didn't know how to get started.

I was surprised that this guy, who had acquired the skills needed to take an airplane into the sky and safely return it to the ground several times a day, sounded so defeated and wistful about learning to ride a motorcycle.

To me, his problem had a completely obvious solution.  In my typical point-blank manner I said, "You can take lessons.  You can pay people to teach you."

I told that story to a few people because I thought it was sort of ironic.  And then one day I realized my words to that young pilot were advice to myself.  And then I realized I wanted to learn to ride a motorcycle, although I didn't know if I wanted to own one.

I had always assumed I would one day learn to ride.  Growing up, I had been around motorcycles on-and-off, but I never had friends with motorcycles.  (It's always easier to develop an interest in something when you know other people who share that interest.)  So I never got around to it.

I began telling friends I was considering learning to ride, although I had already made up my mind.  They gave the same advice I had given:  Pay someone to teach you.

Within a couple months, I had taken a class and bought my first motorcycle.  (I say "first" because I have plans to join the ranks of those with "multiple bike disorder".)  It was a life-changing event.

Why this "Rider's Journal"?

As I went about building my competence on that bike I went through the phases everyone experiences when trying to master new skills.  I read as many books and magazines as I could, but I kept finding that none of them really got down to the specific things I was thinking and experiencing.

I was experiencing new places, meeting people different from the ones I already knew, and seeing familiar places and things in a new light.  My thinking was changing; the things I was interested in were changing; I was changing.  I kept finding myself wanting to record it all and to share it all with other people.

I began keeping photo albums with detailed journal entries, but they quickly became voluminous and I couldn't carry them everywhere I went.  I needed another solution that would allow me to share my experiences with more people.

I also wanted to develop my minimal website design skills and continually sharpen my writing skills, and documenting my experiences as a motorcycle rider gave me a reason to do so.

And so "A Rider's Journal" was born.  Version 0.1 was a good first effort, but used hand-coded inline HTML rather than style sheets.  Version 1.0 used CSS to control most formatting, and this new version 2.0 uses strict compliance with CSS and XHMTL standards.

Still creating each page is slow since the photos are edited and placed by hand.  This site does not use a content management application, so each page is built using a template.  In some regards, using CSS is slower than controlling display elements with inline code, but the CSS does ensure that everything looks the same from page to page.

As I have time, I will move content from the previous version of "A Rider's Journal" and add content from my original photo albums and scrapbooks.

I hope you will enjoy reading my adventures and seeing my photos.  If you are a rider, I hope you will learn something here and there, and find you have had some of the same experiences.

There is an expression, "ride your own ride."  It means that even when you are riding with other motorcyclists, you are responsible for your own safety, your own decisions, your own experience.

Motorcycling is a lot like life itself; you must ride your own ride.  This website is my attempt to share my ride with you.


Please send me your feedback about this site. If anything here strikes a chord with you, or your spot an egregious error, I'd like to know. You can email me at elbandido @ bellsouth.net.