by Liz Jansen
Have you ever considered what riding a motorcycle says about you? Not to others, but to yourself. We know they can empower, build confidence, and create unbelievable exhilaration. But there’s more to their teachings.
Ask yourself these five questions to learn about yourself from your ride.
Why do you ride?
As an instructor, it’s normal to see students nervous about learning to ride, unless they’re still in their teens. No one, however, is more anxious than the person that doesn’t want to be there and is doing it only to please someone else. Invariably, they don’t pass the course, they crash, or they pass and their motorcycle sits in the garage.
Healthy relationships depend on considering the needs, wants, and interests of others and often that means mutual compromises. Learning to ride a motorcycle isn’t negotiable. There’s too much at stake.
As much as your partner is totally passionate about riding, it doesn’t mean you are, and acquiescing puts you at risk. Have that conversation before you sign up for the course or, as an experienced rider, when you decide you’re no longer interested.
But if you do want to ride, then pull out all the stops to make it happen.
What do you do when your intuition and opinions of others differ?
What input did you have in the selection of your motorcycle?
It’s just like any other personal or professional relationship—you’re the only one that can decide who, or which motorcycle, is right for you. Arranged partnerships don’t work well in our culture.
It’s still wise to seek advice so you can make an informed choice. When I was first married, I purchased a motorcycle for my husband while he was away on the one we shared. We were both experienced riders and I knew what he was interested in. Besides it was time to each have our own bike again. When you’re just starting to ride, it’s hard to know what you’re going to like, and even harder for someone else to predict. Your first motorcycle may only be suitable for your learning period as you get comfortable with your skills and know what kind of riding you enjoy.
How do you make important life choices?
Do you trade safety for group approval?
Motorcycling is both solitary and social. Not everyone enjoys solo riding and most people ride in groups, i.e. with at least one other person, some times. The safest groups have a protocol they communicate and adhere to. Even then, you may feel pressured to ride faster than you’re comfortable with, for longer intervals than you want, or through conditions you’re not ready for.
In the end, you’re at the controls and making your riding decisions. While you can get lucky, riding mistakes, either your own or someone else’s, can have devastating consequences.
What are you potentially forfeiting to gain peer approval? And why do you feel it’s necessary?
How do you care for your motorcycle?
Aside from your riding skills, the condition of your motorcycle plays an essential role in keeping you safe on the road. Improperly inflated or worn tires, slack drive chains, burned out bulbs, loose parts, worn brakes, and inadequate levels of engine oil can put your bike, and you, in peril.
While I like to do my own checks, you don’t have to. Just make sure somebody does them on a regular basis. It’s no different from taking control of your health.
How well do you care for the body you depend on to take you through life?
Do you push your comfort zone while riding?
Different than bowing to peer pressure, this speaks to learning new skills from qualified instructors, riding somewhere you’ve never been before, meeting new riding friends, or perhaps taking your first solo overnight ride. If we don’t push our comfort zones, we don’t grow as riders or individuals.
As the saying goes, literally and symbolically, there are so many roads, so little time.
What are you waiting for?
It doesn’t matter what you ride, how far you ride, where you ride, or how long you’ve ridden. Motorcycles are our teachers.
What is yours trying to tell you?