Exploring the Unknown

Exploring the Unknown

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Interview With A Biker - Edgar Garcia By Laurie Simard

1983 Honda CBX650
Pic © Edgar Garcia
“Have you ever experienced the feeling of absolute freedom?  Do you know what it is like to fall in love?” This is what Edgar, a twenty-four years old Peruvian student at Bishop’s University in Lennoxville replied to me when I asked him, what is the feeling he has when he rides his bike? He is an immigrant in Canada with his family since the age of eleven. Spending his time in front of computers, his books, studying in the Computer Science program, he has another passion and another thing that fascinates him besides technology; motorcycles. He discovered this little pleasure when he was fourteen years old. He traveled back to Peru to see his family on the holidays and one of his cousins had a motocross bike. He tried it and it was the love at first sight. By the end of his trip, he was able to drive it around town. “Of course, my mother didn’t know about this, if she would, I’d be dead!” he said. He wanted to start with a cheap bike since he did not have a lot of money, as a student, you have other priorities for sure, but he still wanted to buy one. He started with a Honda CBX650 1983, which he rode it for 3 years. Even if it was an old bike, he described it as “the perfect first bike to ride.”


Kawasaki GPZ900R Ninja
 Pic © Quatro Valvole
His second motorcycle was a whole different thing. While he went back home for a long trip in Peru, he bought a Kawasaki GPZ950. “It was very different from the bike I had before; it was like if it was on steroids”. With this bike, he learned how they can be powerful. In some case we often say that speeding kills, but this time Edgar was saved by the power on his motorcycle. While he was passing a car, another one came in the opposite way and he was not paying attention to the road because he was texting. Instinctively, Edgar accelerated and the car missed him by an inch. “I had to stop by the road and take a breath. I didn’t want to go on that bike again. A few days later, I went back on it and I felt that my skills in motorcycle had completely changed. I was better at riding, I felt better with my driving skills.” After he told me that story, I wanted to know what was his greatest experience lived with his motorcycle.  “I was going on a fourteen-day trip around the beaches in northern Peru, on the seventh day I got sick and the nearest hospital was 3 hours away, I had to drive over there myself.” I was pretty much surprise about this answer because I wouldn’t enjoy a trip if I would have been sick during it, I remind him that I asked him his overall best experience of all time. He continued by explaining me that, on his way back, after 10 hours of waiting at the hospital, he found a little hostel which gave access to a private beach. When he got better, he learnt to surf with the locals and spent his days scuba diving. “It was weird because I just realized that, if my family would have stayed in Peru, it would have been my everyday life and I knew I would have not enjoyed it as much as I did.”

The minimal age to drive a motorcycle in Peru is 16 years old. But like Edgar, many teenagers below that age are driving without licenses. “There are always police ready to arrest people, but it’s not like in Canada. Police in Peru are so corrupted that they would tolerate anything if you gave them enough money!” He said. As the opposite, in Canada, especially in Quebec when you can get arrested because you have a motorcycle that makes too much noise. In Peru, most of the teenagers have a motorcycle. They drive them either legally or illegally because they are really cheap compared to cars. It is a good way of saving money at the same time as having a good transportation. Plus, there is no actual winter like ours in Peru, so you can enjoy the lovely feeling of the wind and not worry about winter tires. Regarding this, I asked him if there was a big difference in owning a motorcycle in Peru compared to owning one in Canada. I was a little surprise of the difference. It would cost something like $400 to $800 for the whole year and buy the actual motorcycle would be like $3000 to $4000 to have a good one. Here, buying a common bike can reach easily $7000 for a regular one and, only for the matriculation of a basic motorcycle, according to SAAQ, in Quebec, it ranges it between 650.99 to 1323,99$ for one year.

What about the gangs, the dark side of the motorcycle culture? “I would like to end it for sure.” He said. He explained to me that, at the beginning of the Hells Angel, they were a big movement that spread all over South America. From his point of view, it is wrong to profit on people’s weakness and vices. Violence and threat are by far, the best way to obtain, according to him, respect from others. He added that he thinks that those gangs influenced the perception from others towards motorcycle. It is one of the important factors that made people scared of them and reluctant about what was, at the beginning, only a way of transportation and a sport. That would explain why old people who have an old-school way of thinking are still judging bikers. They are seen as deviant since many criminal associations were associated to this. It is not always a question of fear to fall into drugs and gangs. Fear of motorcycles can also be because it is dangerous. As the mother of Edgar, many other people are seeing motorcycle as, sometimes, even as far as a coffin on wheels. In the news, there are many horror stories since the beginning of the motorcycle about some person who was dead due a hard impact or collision with another vehicle on the road. As Edgar discovered, those machines are powerful and if one is not careful, it can really be fatal and cost many lives.

As the year goes, I see more and more women on a bike and not only small ones; women can also be seen in the big bikes. In Peru, it is not like this. He was pretty surprised that women could ride some enormous bikes because, where he comes from, women are driving scooters because they cost less and they are more easy to handle. Some women would be reckless and go with a bigger motorcycle but often, the few women who drive a motorcycle, stick to the little ones. Nevertheless, he thinks that motorcycles had a big impact on feminism. Before, girls could not even imagine themselves riding a bike alone. They were not allowed to have such thoughts. Thoughts where their husband was included and where women would wear pants because who can ride a motorcycle with a skirt or a dress. “Seeing girls riding bikes now makes me realize that our society has evolved and we are moving towards a more equalitarian era.”

From the fear to the liberation that motorcyclists feel when they ride their bikes, to the dangers on the road they face on a daily basis, these pretty often mistreated vehicles can be fun to ride. Nevertheless, the dangers of having a motorcycle have decreased by almost half in Canada, this is not the case in Peru there are many accidents on the road mainly because people are not very caring about sharing the road, therefore always thinking about themselves and driving aggressively. Furthermore, having a motorcycle in Canada sounds really amusing, maybe one day I could ride my own.

Acknowledgements


I would like to thank Edgar Garcia for taking the time to be interviewed and for letting me have the honour of sharing his story.

About Laurie Simard


Laurie Simard studied at Champlain College Lennoxville located in Quebec, Canada. Interview With A Biker - Edgar Garcia was written as part of a class project for a course titled Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Studies in the Department of Humanities.

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