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    24 Bikes and Counting: Inside Ash Cole’s Passion for Motorcycles

    I’ve got way too many bikes, almost 24 or 25 in all. This is a 2012 or 2013 MV Agusta Brutale 1090 RR. The frame is hand-built, the engine itself is almost blue printed at the factory. 1100 CC or close to it, but after working on it a bunch, it turns about 165 at the wheel. I have two other MV Agustas, I have a 2015 F3 800, that is set up exclusively for race and track right now. I have a 2005 F4 750 SPR, one of only 300 made. It was actually the bike that they used in iRobot that they supposedly destroyed. I have 7 Ducatis, one Aprilia RSV4, a 2003 Honda RC51, a Yamaha R1, couple of Buells, four older British bikes, including a 1958 AJS Model 20 Twin which is I think one of 10 left in the world. I'm restoring a 1961 Manxman from Norton, which was actually the very first 650 SS brought to the United States. I have a 1967 AJS, a Matchless G80CS competition trials bike. And then a 1966 Norton Atlas 750.

    I take pride that I can ride almost any type of bike because I don't need traction control--I don't need any of that stuff. I think that is really when cars and motorcycles are the most fun. What’s more, I think that electronic riding aids, both in motorcycles and in cars, contribute to bad driving and bad riding. When the traction control kicks in at the very last second, you have no idea until it happens and you can't do anything about it. I’ve had four or five people I know die because of something like that. At the same time, the shared sense of danger is what binds us together. There is a bond that unites us in the motorcycle community--knowing that we share that same risks, but still choose to do it anyway. I've had to lay bikes down at close to a hundred miles per hour and it gets in your head, you sort of relive it. It takes a lot to get back back on the bike again. Some people never do and there's nothing wrong with that. There's nothing as viscerally terrifying as getting hit on a motorcycle at speed. You have no protection.

    That said, I'm passionate about teaching women how to ride bikes and getting them out on the track. I just want women to have that sort of confidence, that thrill that comes with the realization that you’re truly so powerful. All across the motorcycle industry right now, the fastest-growing segment is actually women that are riding for the first time. I hope that other women find in motorcycles what I found: a passion that never burns out--it just gets deeper and deeper.