The film Why We Ride is like an extended and illustrated version of the motorcycle handshake – that momentary gesture of camaraderie that every rider on the road experiences when he or she extends a hand to greet a two-wheeled comrade.
Director Bryan H. Carrol and cinematographers Andrew Waruszewski and Douglas Cheney extend their hand to motorcyclists everywhere by featuring moving and beautifully shot motorcycle imagery and passionate accounts from a wide array of motorcycle enthusiasts. Patriarchs of motorcycling like Keith Code, Ted Simon and Arlen Ness share the spotlight with pint-sized riders just entering their first mini-bike or motor-cross events. Dave Barr, the double amputee who circumnavigated the globe on his modified Harley, delivers such a powerful account of his adventures, one of which includes going for a short ride with his toddler grand-daughter, that it would stir a stone to proclaim itself a biker.
While Why We Ride finds myriads of ways to stroke the strings of riders’ hearts, it is missing a backbone of a cohesive story. Thus, despite the stunning high definition photography and compelling, passionate and personable testimonials, after a while the film begins to feel a bit like a very well-produced infomercial.
Still, it is refreshing to see a production from an accomplished Hollywood director that explores the history of motorcycling and portrays it as passionate and liberating family activity. For once there is a film about motorcyclists that is both heartwarming and inspiring!
Unfortunately, as was evident at the sold-out screening in Philadelphia, the vast majority of the film’s audience consists of die-hard enthusiasts. Because of its limited release and grassroots, enthusiast-centered distribution, it is unlikely that this film will do much to change the general public’s perception of motorcyclists as inconsiderate thrill junkies or thuggish outlaws. And, that is truly unfortunate, because Why We Ride attempts to provide an answer to the question that so many non-riders are afraid to ask.
In the end, Why We Ride is like a motorcycle handshake – an acknowledgment of shared passion by those who get it for those who do as well. If only those who do not ride could experience all the joy, camaraderie and fulfillment that is contained in this handshake, then they too would know, why we ride!
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About the author: Henry Yampolsky is a new rider and writer who finds motorcycling to be an extension of his meditation. When not riding, writing, meditating or contemplating doing one of the three, Henry spends time with his wife, Juliya, and works as a lawyer in Philadelphia.