I’ve been riding motorcycles for about 30 years. It’s really hard to believe I’ve been doing anything that long; playing guitar is about the only thing other thing that has stirred my soul for anywhere near as long.
I quit playing live music about 15 years ago but riding a motorcycle is still very much a part of my life. Why? I don’t really know. Talking with my riding buddies, we all have so many anecdotes, so much information we’ve gathered from all those miles. So many great memories. There’s a clarity in the experience, a richness that accumulates that’s difficult to put into words; at least for me.
The best, most experienced riders I know don’t really think about it that much, they just do it, and their riding seems effortless. Kind of like a musician who just knows the song. But I guess we’re all striving for that and I suppose the 30 year mark just got me thinking about riding more than I normally do. So here’s a bit of what I have learned over 30 years of twisting the throttle. I doubt everyone will agree with all of it but hopefully you’ll recognize some of it from your own experiences.
If you’re meant to ride a motorcycle, nothing will stop you: not lack of money, nor discouragement from friends and loved ones. Call it love, a malady, an obsession, some of us have riding in our bones. Do you?
Even after 30 years of riding, I learn something about myself and/or the machine every time I get on the bike.
I was never a fast rider, but I eventually became a smooth rider. I think that may have something to do with why I still ride.
You need to be aware not only of what’s happening in front of you when riding, but behind and to the sides. It’s better to predict than react. And if you believe that everyone eventually crashes, then you should believe it most when you’re getting your gear on for the day’s ride.
At 14, I had a pretty gnarly bicycle crash. While I sat in the emergency room having gravel scrubbed out of my palms with a wire brush, screaming, I decided to always wear gloves when riding. This is even more important on a motorcycle.
Riding off-road makes you a better rider on road, because you learn how to handle situations where traction is lacking and not panic when obstacles come out of nowhere.
The earlier you get up to ride, the better your ride will be.
The hardest days you have on your bike will be the ones you remember most. Hailstorms, hurricanes, and breakdowns test you, and often require you to seek the assistance of others. We’ve always found that people go out of their way to help, especially in remote areas. These experiences have always given me a renewed belief in the inherent goodness of man.
Living in the moment; there are books published about it, classes taught and lectures given. All of that is commentary to a motorcyclist because riding a bike is about as pure an exercise in “present moment living” as you can have. Our bodies and minds meld with the motorcycle, the controls an extension of our thoughts. When we ride well, there is little conscious thought involved, it’s just being and doing. People who don’t ride will never understand this.
Being biased for or against a particular brand or type of bike is foolish pride. Regardless if it’s a Harley, Ducati, Honda, BMW, Triumph, Kawasaki, Moto Guzzi or KTM. Over time you eventually understand that nearly every motorcycle has something worthy about it, and being prejudiced against any of them limits the quality of your life.
Through riding, I’ve made some lifelong friends. Friends that I would have never had met if I wasn’t involved with motorcycling.
Every day spent above ground is good. Every day spent on two wheels twisting the throttle is even better.