Radical Recreation: Life in the fast lane

Salina Harwood sits at a stoplight during a ride through Anchorage. Harwood is eager to get back on the road with her motorcycle this summer. Photo credit: Cyrus Powers

The combination of sunny skies and clear roads is the perfect recipe for motorcyclists to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather. Salina Harwood, journalism and public communication major with a concentration on strategic communications, is eager to get out and ride her bike after being cooped up all winter. This June will be Harwood’s fifth year riding motorcycles and she plans on many more years to come.

“I don’t know what there’s not to love about biking honestly, initially it was the adrenaline that I craved, but it turned into a lot more than that. Now it kind of evolved into a stress release,” Harwood said. “Just something about not being inside a car and being outside in the sun on two wheels that makes a really mundane drive seem like an adventure.”

Harwood enjoys the feeling of being exposed to her surroundings when she is on her bike. It has opened her perception on the environment, down to every detail.

“You notice so much more when you’re exposed to everything on the road, every dip and bump, people talking, music playing, smell from a restaurant or bakery and people next to you laughing in their cars,” Harwood said. “You’re closed off from all those things when you’re alone in your car and in your own world. It’s awesome taking it all in. It’s like seeing a town you know every inch of with new eyes or something.”

Riding motorcycles reminds Harwood to appreciate being alive and how precious life is.

“When I’m riding I’m constantly aware that this life is fleeting and that every decision you make could impact the outcome of your life,” Harwood said.

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Although the ratio of men to women that ride motorcycles is higher, Harwood enjoys seeing other women challenging the standards.

“I do wish more women were out there riding, it’s always awesome to see ladies that are doing it for themselves, being independent and adventurous. Besides, why let the guys have all the fun?” Harwood said.

Along with the adrenaline rush and scenic routes, motorcycles require regular maintenance. After Harwood learned how to perform her own tune-ups, it became another part of her love for motorcycles.

“Every little tremor, knock, clicking sound or quirk should be something you can identify whether it’s a problem or not. Familiarizing yourself with your bike in that way I think is crucial,” Harwood said. “Plus, it feels amazing not needing a guy to fix my things for me, to know I’m just as capable at handling my bike as they are. Besides, I would just feel like a fraud if I bought a bike and had someone else put in all the work into it.”

Once spring hits, Harwood takes any chance she can to take her bike out for a ride. Because riding motorcycles has essentially became a part of who she is, Harwood doesn’t plan on quitting, but may lessen the amount of time riding.

“I think riding bikes can shape and change who you are as a person. When it becomes a formative part of your life I think that’s when it changes from a hobby to a lifestyle,” Harwood said. “I don’t have any intentions on stopping, I think maybe some day I might ride less but I don’t think I could ever quit completely.”

Harwood chose to specialize in strategic communications to further her abilities in her current job and to apply it to her future career, whatever it may be.

“My line of work involves a lot of promotions and advertising and I’m utilizing everything I’m learning about communications and media to support what I’m doing now with my job, I find it pretty useful,” Harwood said. “I don’t have a particular job in mind, but I know when I find it my degree will be applicable.”

With all the fun Harwood has with motorcycling, she wants to emphasize the importance of safety for both drivers and motorcycle riders.

“It seems like every year there are a few deaths and accidents in the spring before people wake up and realize its bike season, that goes for riders as well,” Harwood said. “We can get caught up in how much fun we’re having. We stop paying attention to things like how close we’re riding to the car in front of us. [I] just really would love to see less accidents on the road this summer. No accidents would be ideal.”

If you see a biker on the road with long blonde hair, it will most likely be Harwood. As summer approaches, watch for motorcycles and take precautions on the road.