Forming opinions and making judgment calls is all a part of growing up – it’s what makes us who we are. Some of us tend to be a good judge of character, the rest of us like to think we are – but we really aren’t. One opinion that we all had in common at some stage or another is that bikers were (and probably still are) pretty damn cool. That idea stuck with me long enough to tempt me into the world of two wheels but I was never prepared for these 5 lessons only a biker would understand.
Ever wondered how some people happen to be able to command the wind and the water as though they were some kind of prophet? Here’s the thing – they don’t really have any magic abilities or future telling powers, they’re probably a motorcycle rider. If there’s one thing a motorcycle rider is more cognizant of than bad drivers on the road, it’s the weather.
You’ll find yourself analysing cloud formations as though you worked with Ron Burgundy and the Channel Four News Team. Asking yourself ridiculously questions will become the norm.
Can I outpace the eye of the storm on the freeway or should I play it safe and loop around town on the back roads?
Will the temperature drop low enough that I need to pack my heated motorcycle gloves? – What about the heated sock liners?
Now I mentioned earlier that a motorcyclist despises bad weather. Not too far behind this item on the list of disapproval come bad road conditions. As a general rule in life, I was always taught to look where I’m going, not where I’m at – the same couldn’t be truer while riding a motorcycle. Knowing what’s coming up ahead could make a life and death difference. You’ll learn to analyse the traffic lights, timing the orange and the red to perfection. Making judgment calls on road conditions become second nature – avoiding wet spots and objects in the road are crucial to a smooth ride and a happy ending.
Perhaps the toughest calls to make are differentiating between potholes, road markings and shadows. Neither of the first are a pretty sight when your hawk eyes are laser focused at tunnel vision speeds. The shadows on the other hand will drive you crazy as you mistake them for the first two warning signs, forcing you to loosen your grip on the throttle and break your rhythm.
Cars – For Better and For Worse
I’ve already highlighted two pains you can expect to face, but perhaps the biggest worry of them all is the other vehicles you share the tar with. As a motorcycle rider your peripheral vision will be sharper, your field of view wider and your reaction speeds electric.
Have you ever noticed the “Think Bike” sticker on the back of some cars? You will now. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 60% of fatal motorcyclist accidents involved another vehicle. This means you best believe your attention to the road will be heightened like never before.
The positive side to this sad statistic is that not only will you be more alert riding your bike, but you’ll be more alert while driving your car too. More importantly, you’ll continuously be on the lookout for other motorcyclists when changing lanes or turning corners, thus playing your role as a respectable human in today’s society.
All The Gear, All The Time
Besides for the feeling you get when your soft hands slide into those warm leather gloves, the invincible feeling that overwhelms your senses when that sleek helmet snuggles your cheeks, and not to mention the robotic limbs that feel capable of walking 1000 miles in those high performance motorcycle shoes – safety comes first.
With the overwhelming statistics provided by groups such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a motorcyclist simple cannot ignore the risks associated with the lifestyle. An age old saying exists in the two wheeled world – All the gear, all the time – learn it and live by it.
Man vs Machine
It’s time to stop worrying – about your bike at least. You’ll soon realize that in the war of man vs machine, man will usually come off second best. Your motorcycle is far tougher than you think. It’s built for speed and power. Over-revving your noble steed won’t make her bleed. Your low energy levels will play a bigger role than your low tire pressure and your bike certainly won’t melt in the rain.
1 Last Thing You Should Know
Even after taking into consideration all the risks involved, the magnificent machine – the motorcycle – will instil in you, feelings of freedom so great that you won’t look back. There will be no more man vs machine, but rather man AND machine.
Author: Wesley Pestana
About the Author: Wesley is the passionate rider, face and founder of Firstcheckpoint.com which serves as a go to source for motorcycle enthusiasts from all walks of life.