I’m just the guy on the motorcycle. You may not be able to tell if I’m a man or a woman, young or old or even how long I’ve been riding, but I’m a motorcyclist nonetheless. Maybe you’ve seen me, maybe not. But I see you. I’m on my way to work just like everyone else, or maybe I’m taking a long weekend ride. We’re a lot alike you and me, but I just choose to travel by two-wheels instead of four. You decided to drive your car today instead of riding your motorcycle. Hey, I’ve done that too. Sometimes the day requires more than my motorcycle can handle. Sometimes you see me and wish you had a motorcycle. You should get one because I know it will change your life, and how you drive that car of yours. Maybe you have an opinion of who I am inside this helmet I’m wearing but I want you to know that not all of us our outlaws. In fact, I waved at you this morning but you didn’t wave back. Maybe you just didn’t see me.
I know you wonder from the comfort of your car how I can ride when it’s cold or raining. You see, that’s how much I want to ride. I know it seems crazy to someone who doesn’t ride a motorcycle, but I have the proper gear to protect me from the elements. When we ride, we are exposed to all kinds of weather and this is all a part of the experience. You could say I’m vulnerable to the weather as it changes. I would say I’m vulnerable to anything outside of my leather jacket.
You could say I’m vulnerable to the weather as it changes. I would say I’m vulnerable, period.
When did you first notice me? Was it the sound my motorcycle makes? My headlight and bright-colored jacket? Or was it after you pulled out halfway into the intersection before slamming on your brakes? I kind of wondered if you were going to stop. Maybe you’re running late, and that’s okay. I run late all the time too. We both have places we need to be with families and jobs that require us to get the most out of our day. It’s okay, and I waved at you anyway.
Think about motorcycles as people – actual people – sharing the road with you and how vulnerable I feel when riding amongst cars and trucks.
Can I ask a favor? Take a second to look and listen for me. Think about motorcycles as people – actual people – sharing the road with you and how vulnerable I feel when riding amongst cars and trucks. I know you’re frustrated with the road construction and the light that won’t turn green quick enough because I am frustrated with it too. And when you do see me, wave at me. And not just because it’s nice to say “hello” but it also tells me that you know I’m here.
I often wonder what really rolls around in this head of mine when I’m on my motorcycle. I do quite a bit of thinking behind my handlebars but to pinpoint one single thing would be difficult. My thoughts bounce around to many different things and sometimes even come back to the beginning of when the ride started. I’ve said I do my best thinking inside my helmet and this still holds true, but some days it’s hard to find clarity even on a perfect ride.
I need to get beyond the familiar 22 mile ride to work. Although this daily ride is good, it has become the source of a mental block that I’m finding hard to get around. Even an additional 10 miles added to the trip or an alternate route might suffice, but I still need to head in a different direction – maybe taking the long way to Clarityville. Fresh scenery and different smells would do my noggin some good. I’ve been to Clarityville before and its a nice place to visit on your motorcycle.
Fresh scenery and different smells would do my noggin some good. I’ve been to Clarityville before and its a nice place to visit on your motorcycle.
With Sturgis right around the corner, plans are being made. As always, I leave the “Last Minute” clause open in case I need to pull the plug. Things can change right up until the night before I leave and you have to be mentally prepared to throw in the towel and admit you’re not going. Fortunately for me, I haven’t had to exercise this clause but that’s not to say I haven’t stood there at the 11th hour (or was it 11 o’clock at night?) the night before staring at the bike loaded down patiently waiting to hit the road thinking I would have to cancel the trip. Bummer.
As it stands now, Sturgis looks like it’s a go. I need a vacation for sure, but I also need to put some miles under me and clean out some cobwebs in my head. What better way than to see some new countryside through these tired old eyes of mine?
For the last couple of weeks I’ve been battling a cold. Headache, coughing and a runny nose, along with the usual achy feeling you get when the crud is winning. That, combined with extremely cold weather, has kept me off my Road King for a few weeks. Now that it appears all that remains is a runny nose and the Kansas temperatures are back to what’s typical in January, I’ve been back to riding to work. This morning as I was getting my leathers on to leave for work, stopping every few minutes to blow my nose, I thought to myself once I get my helmet on I won’t have the chance to blow it again for about 25 minutes. So the helmet goes on as I go out the door.
When its 18 degrees outside before you get on your bike, you know you’ll be in for a cold ride. I’ve been here before and for me it’s more of a mental thing. As long as I’m prepared inside my helmet, I’ll be okay. It only takes a few miles to realize where the short-comings are in your winter riding gear as my fingers start getting cold. The face shield of my helmet is opened slightly to keep it from fogging over so my eyes start watering and of course that runny nose of mine is a bit of a nuisance. As I slow down two miles west of town to make the corner, I raise the face shield and use my gloved thumb to wipe the snot from my nose before it goes any further down my lip. Nobody ever said riding a bike in the winter was glamorous.
Another 5 miles and my nose is needing wiped as I roll down the hill to Skiddy. Again, I raise the face shield of my helmet to use my thumb and another crisis is averted. This allows me to focus on more important things, like I shouldn’t have had that second cup of coffee before leaving the house. It’s still a beautiful morning no matter how cold and it’s seeing the sun shining and the few clouds in the sky that make it all worth the hassle. As I came to a stop at highway 77 for the final leg of my ride, I had a realization; my nose had quit running! It appears that at 18 degrees with a wind chill of who knows what, snot will eventually stop running from your nose. A small victory I know, but I’ll take it. I finally pulled into work and removed my helmet and found a paper towel to blow my nose on. Much like molasses when exposed to this temperature, snot will slow if not stop when placed under harsh conditions such as this. My gear is a pretty good indicator of how cold a temp I will be willing to ride in, but my snot indicator tells me the colder the better.
So a few days ago I see a fellow biker’s helmet resting on his seat as I park next to him. I climbed off mine and glanced over again at his helmet only to see the sticker on the side that read “Ride it like you stole it!” Now, I don’t know if this individual was just making a proclamation about the enthusiastic way he rides, or if he was advertising how he acquired his motorcycle. Either way it made me think about the way we promote ourselves and the sport we love so dearly.
Now I can be as rambunctious as the next person, and I have been known to ride hard and fast, but the reality is when I make a major two-wheeled purchase, to a certain extent I need to take care of it. My motorcycles come with a title and sometimes a payment. I keep the proper insurance and registration within easy reach in case I need it. So when it comes to the “stole it” part, I just don’t fit in. Also with the high cost of getting bikes fixed due to the lack of maturity or some other reckless act, breaking it is not an option. And just my luck, if I “ride it like I stole it”, it would end with me “getting a ticket”.
As I ride off I had to ask myself…what if you “rode it like you financed it”?