Cuddles. That was her name. She was 7 years old when I was 10. And she used to glare at me, even at that age. Sometimes, she would bark too. Yes, cuddles was a Lhasa Apso. Tiny, compared to the street dogs I used to chase around my neighbourhood and more annoying than the aunty who’d shout at us for sending a cricket ball landing into her balcony dutifully once every half hour.

I hated Cuddles. Not least because she’d get pampered by her ‘mom’ more than I could expect from mine. Actually, I hated Cuddles only because the 10 year old me was thoroughly jealous of her thrice-a-day combing routine, twice-a-day walks and god only knows how many meals. Me ? I was expected to start learning how to iron my own school uniform.

I hated that tiny, shrieky, white ball of prime football substitute more than anything. And by extension, I hated all pet dogs. Pet dogs, to me, were nothing but an annoying, useless, utterly pointless pursuit of perfecting your pampering skills. I held that opinion all the way until I turned 14, which is when I met Comet.

Comet loved me. He was only 10 months old, yet he was as huge as a fully grown up member of his family. Lush, golden coat, cheery nature and a penchant of knocking over anything and anyone he’d run into. Golden Retrievers are known to be that way. But none of Comet’s qualities is what endeared him to me.

It was the pampering attention that Comet did without. His masters were least bothered in ‘babying’ him around. Comet could go out in the evening and come back the next day for all they cared. As long as his basic necessities of food and hygiene were met, they couldn’t care more.

What Comet meant to them was as a companion and a playmate. To everyone in the building, actually. Comet was not subjected to Cuddles’ thrice-a-day combing routine or the insane amount of meals. A pat down and some rice/chicken was all he ever needed. He was, in all essence, a working dog away from a farm. Earthy, grounded, minimal fuss and incredible amount of fun. Isn’t that what a pet is meant to be ?

But how are Cuddles and Comet, dogs from my childhood, relevant in an article on a motorcycling portal ?

You see, there are two ways we go about with our motorcycles. We either pamper it. Or we don’t.

I have known, seen, heard of, met and avoided people who have gone to quite some lengths to pamper their rides no end. Some fancy polish bought off the net. Another sourced from the other end of the country. Some decorative bike cover flown in from abroad and some decidedly questionable mods shipped over from god only knows where. Everything and anything under the sun that can make their experience of owning a motorcycle of their dreams even more enriching.

You know what else can make that experience truly amazing ? Actually using the motorcycle.

No. Going to a commercialized, overpriced and under-impressive coffee outlets at every sixth milestone along the arrow straight, butter smooth ‘highways’ all the time, and by that I mean seriously every weekend, does not count.

Remember why you got the motorcycle in the first place ? Because of what she can do for you, to you. It wasn’t meant for it to be the other way, or was it ? If the only reason you bought that exquisite piece of human engineering was for the pride of owning it, please, might I interest you in a million dollar painting ? The painting was never meant to be anything to you. It was always and always a decorative reminder of your taste in art. A motorcycle ? Was that manufactured so you could park it safely, and nicely, in your garage ?

No. You see, a motorcycle comes with wheels. And wheels are meant to roll. Your motorcycle was designed to take on bad roads, some better at it than others, but each one of them can. They won’t fall to pieces just because you took yours out of your comfort zone. They are okay with slides too. Try cornering hard and see. They’ll probably scrape their tanks and fairings, crack open their headlight casings and rupture their indicator stalks, but they’ll still work ! Unless you’ve been a complete idiot in trying to write it off entirely !

Does your motorcycle decide where you can venture or do you ? The choice is upto you. Me ? I ride the way I want to. Good roads, bad roads, no roads. If I want to go, my motorcycle is more than ready to come along. She hasn’t been pampered, you see. She has had just enough to keep her in good shape. She hasn’t lived a good life. She’s lived a happy one.

So who are the two types of motorcyclists, you ask ?

The ones that let their motorcycles decide their motorcycling. I’m sure you already know the second one.

Ride safe. Ride hard. Just ride.