Photo by Ally Griffith
Junior Alex Holladay whips into the senior lot, makes a sharp turn and with a screeching halt, parks his motorcycle, a red Kawasaki Ninja sports bike, in his designated spot near the front of the staff parking zone. He does this every day, regardless of the weather, even if he has marching band practice at 7 am.
Holladay has been around motorcycles his whole life, having grown up with a father and brother who both ride. His dad got his first bike when he was 16, his brother at 17, and now, at 16, Alex has his. In a way, it has become a family tradition.
He got his motorcycle in April of 2016. It sat in his garage, waiting for the day when he could get his motorcycle endorsement, which is similar to a driver’s license, and ride it on his own. And that May, when that day finally came, he marched home from the DMV and put on the helmet that he had been waiting three weeks to wear.
Driving his very own motorcycle for the first time was a completely new experience for Holladay. It was a rush of total freedom when he pulled out of his driveway and rode all by himself that day.
“It’s not like anything I’ve ever tried. I’ve been driving ATV’s and dirt bikes since I was a kid,” Holladay said. “But driving a motorcycle is something totally different.”
Holladay has been chasing that feeling ever since. He rides his motorcycle every day of the week– to and from school, and anywhere else he can. It’s never just a nice day outside to him– it’s just ‘good riding weather’. For Holladay, riding has become not just a hobby, but the way he spends every moment of his free time.
“I think it’s a fun thing. It’s cool. And then there’s the ‘motorcycle wave’- I get to wave at the other bikers on the street,” Holladay said. “It’s sort of like we’re a family.”
Motorcycles are not only “more fun” than cars, according to Holladay– they get better gas mileage, too. His sports bike, which is a larger type of motorcycle, gets 50 miles per gallon, and his tank only costs $10 to fill up. Additionally, parking spots are always easy to find– if other bikers are willing to share.
“I mean if everybody feels like sharing, you can fit like 4 plus bikes in one car parking spot,” Holladay said. “So finding a spot is certainly easier.”
Despite all of these positive aspects, there is one thing about motorcycles that tends to scare his friends and family: the risk. Motorcycles don’t have the outer protection that cars do, Holladay says, so if accidents happen, they are more likely to be fatal. In 2014, the number of deaths on motorcycles was about 27 times the number in cars per mile, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. But Holladay believes that these accidents are caused by a lack of attention on the part of the motorcyclist– which he doesn’t feel is a problem for him.
“When you’re riding a motorcycle, you just have to watch for other people, not just yourself,” Holladay said. “There’s a lot more room for error, so it makes me even more careful.”
Junior Alec Schlote, a friend of Holladay’s, is less confident in the safety of motorcycles, regardless of Holladay’s driving abilities.
“He takes friends riding with him sometimes, but for me, personally? I would definitely not ride with him,” Schlote said. “I just don’t trust motorcycles in general.”
This sentiment is something Holladay hears a lot– and keeps in mind– but has never agreed with. Motorcycles have been a part of his life for so long that he has never had the thought of not trusting them occur to him. His trust in the safety of motorcycles is also based largely on the fact that he’s never been in an accident– and for however long he continues to ride, he plans to keep it that way.
But for now, Holladay will continue to treasure his spot at the front of the senior lot, and that feeling he gets every time he hops onto his motorcycle to ride.