Significant Others, Motorcycles and How to Sell Snow to a Polar Bear
As many of us discovered upon reaching adulthood, to include those of us who refuse to grow up, our actions and decisions do not occur in a vacuum. Between our parents, romantic interests and our own offspring, there are myriad concerns to be addressed when considering a potentially dangerous lifestyle change, and for many, motorcycling is right near the top of the list. To my readers, I would like to pass on a few pearls of wisdom based on my own experience that may help you assuage the fears of the important persons in your life and hopefully make your decision to get “in the wind” less of a point of contention.
Caveat: these are not excuses or talking points for you to regurgitate in your own defense, but instead are things I believe to be true, and I sincerely believe you will too after you put a few thousand miles behind yourself.
Continue reading for my advice on assuaging concerns about riding.
The first concern for many whose loved one plans on buying a murdercycle is the danger, and in this they are absolutely correct — it can be, and frequently through no fault of the rider. We face the same situations as the more-protected travelers ensconced in their cages with none of the protections inherent therein. Furthermore, motorcyclists have ever been vulnerable to “distracted driving,” a condition exacerbated recently with the advent of cellphone/mobile device technology, and something that is likely to only get worse, not better.
There is nothing you can do to affect public driving habits, but you can mitigate the risk significantly by taking one of the many rider-safety courses available in the U.S. Do yourself and your loved ones a favor and take one of these courses. You will learn proper riding techniques, with an emphasis on tactics that can help you proactively defend yourself against said dangers. Take a course, and take the lessons to heart. Most of all, make sure your loved ones know you did so, it may take the edge off their not-unfounded fears.
I have, somehow, reached an age at which my testosterone poisoning has declined to a manageable level. Unfortunately, it has taken many years to reach a point where I am aware of my own mortality, and I have no silver bullet for that particular malady. I will, however offer up that displaying a certain amount of maturity will help keep you alive and allay the fears of your loved ones.
No, I’m not suggesting that you merely act mature, but actually BE mature, at least while on your bike. Plus, it will help prevent the folks down at the police department from getting excited as well — a good policy for all concerned. This means no GoPro videos on YouTube of yourself engaging in shenaniganery , or any other such foolishness, because you will lose all credibility at that point.
Gear! It is impossible to overstate the importance of purpose-built riding gear, folks. If you don’t believe me, go watch some MotoGP and get back to me. It seems that one of the requisite skills for this style of racing involves wiping out, collecting yourself and your bike, then getting back into the race. These guys will go down for a tumble-and-slide then fairly trot back to their bikes to continue on. No, they aren’t Superman without the cape, they just have very good gear. You can abandon all hope of such a recovery wearing sneakers and a t-shirt; I don’t care how tough you think you are.
Toward this end, you need to allocate a significant slice of your bike budget to proper protective equipment. To those who will whine about comfort, expense and the hassle involved with significant over-clothes, I would point out that it isn’t about you, we are discussing your loved ones here. Riding gear is the most prominent static displays of your intent to remain intact, and it speaks to your awareness of the dangers, which brings us back to the issue of maturity. For more on this, I invite you to read my article on common riding mistakes I see among both new riders and vets alike.
Bottom line: words can carry your argument only so far, but good gear is a constant reminder that you are aware of the dangers and are taking steps to mitigate them as much as possible. Your loved ones will thank you. Oh, and any who ride with you need gear as well. They should be as well protected as yourself.
This next bit deals directly with spouses and “better halves.” Frequently, motorcycling is a solo activity, especially when your “other” isn’t as enamored with bikes as yourself. Solo- and group-riding activities frequently place riders in, shall we say, fraught situations, where certain opportunities can present themselves with alarming regularity.
To help head off any complications, I would advise using a solo seat for your forays into such environments. It serves as sort of a wedding band for your bike, announcing to the world that you plan on leaving just like you showed up — alone. Not only does this discourage temptation from asking for a ride, but it makes it physically difficult and desperately uncomfortable to accommodate such a request.
Now, this is no substitute for actually possessing fidelity, but it is a visible declaration to any and all familiar with bike culture, and is a way to allay any fears your “other” may have. So, do him/her/it/THE other a favor and let your choice of seating speak for your status. You can always keep a detachable pillion pad at the house for times when two-up seating is absolutely necessary and appropriate.
The Economics of It
Now for the economics of the situation. Bikes are generally cheaper than cars, certain manufacturers notwithstanding, and are cheaper to operate. Fuel prices are fairly reasonable now, but a few years ago when it was 4 to 5 bucks a gallon, my bike saved my bacon. Insurance is much cheaper as well, especially with the cheaper rides, and so a fairly inexpensive bike can literally pay for itself in a few years on fuel and ’surance savings.
It will take a while with current gas prices, but I literally paid for my latest bike in about two years on fuel savings and now I am soaking up the lagniappe, and I submit to you that as fluid as oil prices can be, we are liable to see more spikes and dips in the future. A bike can be an investment toward lessening financial stresses from this quarter in the future.
If my next point has any basis in science or medicine, it is unknown to me at this point. What I am quite positive about is that in my experience, riding has a very salubrious effect on my own mental state, and makes a significant contribution to my ability to manage stress and the symptoms of acute PTSD.
Not only that, but it opens up a number of organizations such as riding clubs, H.O.G and other groups that foster an atmosphere of brotherhood/sisterhood that certain demographics may find comforting, to include our returning veterans. Riding represents one of the most powerful medications I know of, and I highly recommend it for anyone seeking relief from any of a number of mental maladies, or even as just a break from the humdrum of the day-to-day. Be sure to bring this up in your arguments for buying a bike, the people who love you will want you to have every opportunity for happiness.
That’s My Advice
So there you have it folks. This represents the best advice I can give a prospective bike buyer who is facing significant pushback from “people who matter.” While it may not be an instant “I Win” button, their arguments will be based largely on emotion, and you must present logical points to overcome their knee-jerk reactions. Bon chance!