7 Checks to Make Sure You’re Ready to Ride

by Liz Jansen

Ready to RideMore than half the riders killed on Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) patrolled roads in 2015 died through no fault of their own. It’s a staggering number and one we can change.

We can’t control the actions of others with whom we share the road. However, we can do everything in our power to make sure we’re alert, skilled, visible, and in control of our motorcycles.

Previous posts covered making sure your motorcycle and your gear are ready for the ride. Here we’ll look at the self-check—making sure YOU are ready to ride.

Do an honest self-assessment before each ride, considering:

  1. Intuition. What is it telling you about the ride you’re about to embark on and the others you’ll be riding with? Listen and follow its guidance.
  2. Skills. Do you have the skills for where you’re headed? If you’re not comfortable riding on freeways, heavy traffic times are not the times to learn. Wait until there are fewer cars on the road before venturing out. Skills take time and practice to develop so they become automatic. New riders may have all the confidence in the world, but they’re not ready to take on the Tail of the Dragon until they’ve accumulated experience.
  3. Emotional state. A motorcycle ride to cool down from a blow up with your partner is foolish. Careers, finances, family issues, and relationships can all create stress, which in turn can affect our ability to stay focused on the ride. Settle down before heading out. Even then, find a quiet place to stop, reflect, and think things through. Often times if we get out and clear our heads, ideas and perspectives fall into place as if by magic.
  4. Physical state. Don’t ride if you’re not feeling well. Headaches, colds, or digestive upsets are miserable and take energy and focus away from where it’s needed—managing the ride.
  5. Impairment. There’s no room for dulled senses or diminished processing while operating a motorcycle. While a low blood alcohol count may be within legal limits, I would not get on a motorcycle with any alcohol in my blood. According to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF), 46 percent of riders killed in accidents have alcohol in their system at the time of their death. Fatigue, non-prescription, and prescription drugs can all impair your senses.
  6. Distractions. Although many riders appreciate the convenience and ease of chatting with their passenger or others in their group, or listening to music while riding, those are all distractions. There are enough inputs for me to process—drivers, road signs, traffic signals, road conditions, pedestrians, animals, and any warning signs I’m receiving from my motorcycle or body—without adding more. If you choose to use them, plan how you’re going to manage volume, frequency of use, and interruptions.
  7. Peer Pressure. While motorcycling can be a solitary pursuit, it’s also very social. It’s fun to ride with friends but don’t be pressured into riding beyond your skills to keep up with them. Also, if you don’t trust others in the group to ride safely, stay back. Always ride your own ride. Agree on a destination and meet them there. Everyone’s safer.

Ride Safe. Ride Aware. Ride Again.

photo credit: Mae Hong Son Loop via photopin (license)


Healer, author, and motorcycle aficionado Liz Jansen combines her artistic mediums to create stories that inspire readers to embark on their own journey of self-discovery. No helmet or jacket required.

10 Comments on “7 Checks to Make Sure You’re Ready to Ride

    • Thanks Liz, this is a great reminder as the short riding season in Ontario begins. I had a wonderful instructor for my M2 course and one thing I always remember him saying is “ride your own ride”. I ride with a group most of the time and his words often resonate with me when we’re going through high traffic areas or passing slower vehicles.

      • If there’s one phrase to remember, you’ve said it: Ride your own ride!
        Here’s to a safe and enjoyable season for you Helen! Thanks.

  1. I used to teach Scuba Diving and basically used all of these “Checks” to teach my students the same thing.
    These basic checks work well in so many different ways. We use the phrase “Plan your dive and dive your plan”. I use it also for riding. “Plan my ride and ride my plan”. If I am not comfortable and confident it is time for me to make a decision based on where I need to be or not be.
    Blue skies and safe riding!

  2. After 15 years and 63K miles of riding the old motorcycle, I bought a new one that I am struggling a little to adapt to. More than ever I need to make sure I am truly ready to ride before I hop on. Thank you for the reminder Liz.

    • Good point. And that little voice is never wrong! Keep at it and you’ll soon be as comfortable together as you were with the old one.
      Safe travels.


  3. Excellent points! Many times I’ve decided not to ride, even on short rides, if I’m not up to it, either physically or mentally. It’s always best to listen to your intuition, regarding your capability to ride safely, or when deciding to ride with others.

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