Photographers have always loved to pose lovely models with beautiful motorcycles. I contributed photos to Easy Rider Magazine at one point, and that kind of image was their bread and butter.
Of course, the kind of models you see in the biker magazines are usually conventional bikini models, not gorgeous hardbody muscle competitors. But while a lot of motorcyclists are into working out and building muscle, they most often don’t favor this kind of physique for females (although they do nowadays more often than in the past). Lots of bodybuilders, on the other hand, appreciate both powerful two-wheel machines and the kind of women you see on stage at IFBB and NPC events. Stand outside a gym like Gold’s in Venice, CA and you’ll see a parade of different kinds of bikes from Harleys to Triumphs to various models from Japan. I just saw a Hayabusa parked by the curb, and you don’t get much more powerful than that.
I have done a lot of “babes and bikes” photos myself because, as a serious, long-time biker, I always had a variety of motorcycles on hand to use in shoots. I owned everything from Harley dressers, to a BMW touring bike to race and sport bikes like a Ducati SPS. I rode a lot for decades, taking advantage of the fantastic Southern California landscapes and weather. I would sometimes take off at seven in the morning on a Sunday and do hundreds of miles up the coast and through the mountains before coming home in the early afternoon.
But as much as I’ve loved riding, I do not necessarily recommend others do the same – especially muscle competitors, whose careers can be in jeopardy if they become injured. There is a risk/benefit ratio that needs to be observed. Bikes can be dangerous. I rode all the time, so I kept my skills up. My bikes were well-maintained. I didn’t ride very often at night, especially Friday and Saturday nights. I tried to only ride in good weather. And not when I was very tired.
I was never a heavy drinker, but I gave it up altogether in the mid-80s, primarily so I could ride at any time with all my wits about me. I enjoyed riding a motorcycle so much I considered the benefit to outweigh the risk, and I did all I could to reduce the risk.
The thing is, as a writer and photographer, I never depended on my body for my living or career. I once dropped a race bike on a track and because I was wearing full leathers and a helmet, I walked away with no serious injury. But if I’d been an athlete and needed to continue hard training, this might have been a more serious incident.
On my Sunday rides, I would sometimes see Arnold and Franco Columbu out on Harley’s on the Coast Highway or the twisty roads above Malibu. When I discussed motorcycles with Arnold, he told me he has always loved bikes, especially Harley’s – “They are so AMERICAN!” Arnold said – but he stopped riding in the 1970s when he was competing. He just couldn’t risk an injury.
I always caution muscle competitors in bodybuilding, fitness, figure, or any category, to think twice before riding a motorcycle. A sprain or a scrape that would be of little consequence to a “civilian” – somebody with no athletic goals – could mean a wasted competitive season for you. To say nothing of a more serious injury, which is all too much a possibility.
So, motorcycles are exciting, they can be very beautiful, but before you decide to ride one think about the possible downsides, the risk/benefit ratio, and, like Arnold, have the discipline to postpone gratification until a more appropriate time in your life and career.