Choosing not to Ride-Have I made the right decision? - Motorcycle Forum
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post #1 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-21-2017, 11:07 PM Thread Starter
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Choosing not to Ride-Have I made the right decision?

Choosing not to Ride-Have I made the right decision?

Hello all,
I am a first time poster (and this may well be my only post for reasons you will read below).
I have joined this forum because I need seasoned riders to assure me that I have made the correct decision concerning taking up motorcycle riding.
I have always loved the idea of riding a motorcycle and I have flirted with the idea of starting to ride for years. However, I have finally found myself in a position where I could afford to purchase a bike and I am pretty sure that I have talked myself out of it. I think I have committed the sin of so many want to be drivers by falling in love with the romance and mystique of the motorcycle rider while overlooking the hard realities of such a hobby/lifestyle. Let me walk through my situation so those who read this post can fully understand my situation.

Experience:
Next to none. I grew around people who were completely opposed to motorcycles so I did not know anyone who could help me learn how to ride a motorcycle, or even a dirt bike. I did try to ride a cousinís dirt bike once when I was 15 but I could never get the bike out of first gear on my first and only ride.
About six years ago I tried to take the Motorcycle Safety course at my local community college but that was a miserable failure. I had never even sat on a motorcycle before. I had trouble releasing the clutch smoothly (I was dumping it). I was terribly out of shape (24 years old, over 300 lbs) on a 5í10 frame so I quickly got winded walking the bike around. (I am in much better shape now if that would help you with your responses.) And, finally, I was so inexperienced that I kept trying to stop the bike by putting my feet down and dragging them on the pavement rather than using the brakes. Like I said, it truly was a disaster. I quite the class because the experience was just so uncomfortable for me. I would also note that I was further embarrassed by the fact that I was the only truly green student in the class. Everyone else had riding experience.
Now, I will say that part of my failure during the class is due to my personality. I am truly a ďtype BĒ individual in the sense that I like to understand the concept as fully as possible before I ever attempt to practice the physical act. I had done research on how to ride a motorcycle but I had never actually been on one before. Now, I would be in a position where I could buy bike, keep it at my house, and practice even the most basic fundamentals in a very safe environment, working at my own pace. This, however, brings me to my concerns.
Concerns:
First, I donít think I am the kind of driver who just naturally takes to motorcycle riding. I have only been in two wrecks. The first, while technically my fault, was really a systemic failure. The second was my fault in the sense that I saw someone in front of me commence a maneuver, I began to execute the same while looking to my left, and ran into the back of the person who had suddenly decided to stop short of what they were doing. However, I also have to admit that I can become easily distracted while driving due to my thoughts, more so than to things such as playing with the radio or talking on the phone. I think with practice I could learn to control this habit and focus my mind, but that is a very big ďifĒ in an environment with a steep learning curve.
Second, I am willing to admit that I am afraid. I am afraid of being injured. I am afraid of being in a wreck. I am currently a poor graduate student and have been in school for almost 10 years at this point. I am especially afraid of suffering some sort of brain damage which would effectively destroy the work I have been dedicated to for the last decade. On top of that, because I am a graduate student and am poor, even though I have health insurance, I am scared that if I was physically injured I would be unable to meet the medical expenses as a result of treatment.
Third, I donít have any support from those close to me. My family, though they do mean well and their hearts are in the right place, are opposed to me riding due to the above mentioned risks. For me, this creates feelings of guilt and anxiety that I think add to my stress levels and which would further distract me when riding.
Final comments:
One thing I will say in my favor is that I am a responsible person. I think that it is this devotion to being responsible that has lent to this serious consideration of my own abilities and made me question if I am meant to ever ride a cycle. What I am not sure of and why I am reaching out to this online community is to ask yíall if the concerns I have mentioned are shared by all novice riders or if they are unique to me and do they actually represent serious impediments to my success and safety when it comes to writing?
I am sorry for the length of this post but I do welcome any advice members of this forum could give me.
Best,
J.
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post #2 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-21-2017, 11:26 PM
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Hiya friend.

I only read the title of your post and a few lines of the actual post. But based on that I would say that, if you question whether you should ride or not, and you decide not to, then you probably shouldn't ride.

And if you need to ask total strangers to make decisions that can involve life or death for you, then you should likely not choose to ride.

On the other hand, if your heart is telling you to ride, then by all means, follow your heart!
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post #3 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-21-2017, 11:39 PM
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Maybe you should try the safety course again. Then see how you feel after it.


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post #4 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-21-2017, 11:44 PM
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In order to ride, you should be willing to accept the risks. Even experienced riders are taking risks every time they get on a motorcycle.

There are many things a rider can do to reduce the amount of risk they are exposed to. It can never be completely eliminated.

The risks in traffic will be higher for someone prone to panic if things go wrong. There's one constant when riding, and that is that things will go wrong. Practice will help with emergency maneuvers and experience will help with identifying and avoiding trouble in the first place. These things take time and patience.
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post #5 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-21-2017, 11:47 PM
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I too only read the title and a few lines at the beginning. No doubt, you shouldn't ride.


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post #6 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-22-2017, 12:06 AM
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Since you have serious doubts about your ability to ride, don't do it. Maybe get a real small scooter and ride in your neighborhood, or somewhere where there's no traffic and see what you think. Every time my son talks about motorcycles, I do my best to change the subject or persuade him not to do it. He's a really smart kid, 26 but he is ADHD and doesn't belong on a motorcycle. You need a lot of focus, awareness of your surroundings, quick reactions and coordination.
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post #7 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-22-2017, 02:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eye_m_no_angel View Post
Hiya friend.

I only read the title of your post and a few lines of the actual post. But based on that I would say that, if you question whether you should ride or not, and you decide not to, then you probably shouldn't ride.

And if you need to ask total strangers to make decisions that can involve life or death for you, then you should likely not choose to ride.

On the other hand, if your heart is telling you to ride, then by all means, follow your heart!
^^ This says it all. ^^

But I would add that your current decision doesn't lock you in for life. If you feel more comfortable with riding in the future, you can revisit your decision.
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post #8 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-22-2017, 04:47 AM
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You have probably made the right choice. I normally would say you don't have all the facts yet but you have taken a class and quit. That right there is telling. You simply can't up and quit on a motorcycle or scooter. I'm not sure you'll get far with that quick to quit attitude either. Quitters just don't go very far. So to me you need to address that first. I'm not a quitter so would keep trying. But even if you got an automatic scooter or motorcycle there are just too many things that happen while riding that would surely overwhelm you to the point of quitting in the absolute worst time. But I think you owe it to yourself to try the safety class again if it's free to you. But see, that's my never give up coming out which by you previous actions prove you don't have. So I think you made the right choice and it's time to think about something else. Maybe skydiving. Not to challenging from a physical ability point of view to step out of an airplane. You then only have one more thing to do and that's to pull the rip-cord. The rest is going to happen one way or the other. You will land.

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post #9 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-22-2017, 04:29 PM
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There is too much I could say about this but my aim is not to over-intellectualize riding a motorcycle as I think you are doing.

First there is the imperative to ride. This "desire or want " that overrides the risks associated with a motorcycle (or anything else) . If you don't feel compelled or pushed to ride, you'll have a hard time justifying the risks involved to yourself or anyone else. If you think too much about this especially in the beginning you probably won't do it.

I am really trying to avoid selling or convincing you to ride. If you do choose to do so reading about the craft, taking MSF classes and falling in with a mentor can mitigate the risks.

One thing I will say is that you can live your life being safe and doing everything right and things may still happen to you outside of your control.


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post #10 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-22-2017, 06:42 PM
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I can honestly say, I have no idea.
BUT: Get a small dirt bike and go off road riding. wear the proper gear. The dirt may be soft, but trees are hard.

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post #11 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-22-2017, 09:55 PM
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I read your entire post and in my opinion (for what it is worth) you are currently not in the proper mind set to ride. Ridding takes total concentration.


If the itch continues and you feel that you really want to try regardless of your concerns - take the course again. Pass or fail you will have a better idea of whether or not it is for you.

Good luck to you what ever you choose to do.


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post #12 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-22-2017, 11:51 PM
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Maybe at some point in the future you can re-visit your dream of riding and approach it in a different way. You might be able to find someone who can give you private lessons and help you build your skills and confidence. Then take the safety course. Then maybe take the advanced safety course. The basic safety course was intense, as it needs to be. I was amazed I got through it. I was 57 (2yrs ago) and hadn't ridden in 40 years. I can't tell you how many times our awesome instructor said "If you do THIS, you will die!" (I needed to hear that!) Riding is FUN and it's also SERIOUS. Good luck in whatever you do!
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post #13 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-23-2017, 05:28 PM
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Great idea, I would only add riding partners.

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post #14 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-24-2017, 12:40 AM
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When one can list multiple detailed reasons not to do something and none to do it, then the answer is pretty clear.

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post #15 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-24-2017, 01:07 AM
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Don't ride, motorcycles are dangerous.

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post #16 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-24-2017, 11:12 AM
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Motorcycles are hazardous. People are dangerous, or not. Hazards can be mitigated and managed, but not totally eliminated. If one is not able to accept the level of hazard then don't do it. Worrying about the risk is just going to increase it substantially.

The biggest thing that jumps out at me here though is just the amount of hand wringing, more so than the details of it. If it causes that much fretting and indecision, don't.

Though the idea of getting a small scooter and riding a little locally, depending on the locale, seems reasonable. Basically anybody who can ride a bicycle should be able to manage a small scooter quickly and then get an idea. If riding a scooter around town at 30 mph is overwhelming, definitely do not go bigger/faster/more complex. OTOH if you find it not so bad after all, the decision can be revisited.
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post #17 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-24-2017, 12:40 PM
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Do you know how to drive stick? (in a car) That knowledge made the clutch/throttle action easier for me.

I would try the dirt bike or a 49cc scooter. You can pick either one up on the cheap, and sell it for not enough of a loss to worry about. Chalk that up to paying for the experience.

If your desire to ride is strong enough, you will learn to ride. If not, you won't. You need to figure out the level of your desire. We can't tell you that.
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post #18 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-24-2017, 01:06 PM
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I would never try to talk someone into riding motorcycles.
What ever you do, please please please start practicing concentration in your automobile.
Best of luck to ya.
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post #19 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-24-2017, 02:34 PM
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something that I have told people that are interested in riding is that you have to take into effect that motorcycles are in all reality machines designed in a way that can kill you. very easily in the fact. it is a machine that allows you to do what god never intended for us to do. but in the same hand, it is this that creates half of the thrill of riding. the other half being just being open to the elements and not being restrained to a box on four wheels.


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post #20 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-25-2017, 07:14 AM
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You need a local mentor. You could then get the very basics ironed out before a course. I have a 250 Enduro as the family starter bike, great for learning.
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post #21 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-25-2017, 09:00 AM
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IMO you've made the right choice not to ride a motorcycle. Being an active motorcyclist for over 20 years now, riding safely on a motorcycle (or any balancing vehicle that is), needs concentration, self-confidence, risk-management and grit. Perhaps a bit of natural ability and "feeling for what's going on between the legs" helps along the way.

I've read your whole post so it's clear you lack concentration and self-confidence. The other two get important when you master the first two.

It has been said earlier, once you are really sure you want to make the decision to introduce yourself to the very basics of motorcycling, take a "absolute beginners course" (riding school?). Maybe train your hand muscles prior to this, as you told us that you had problems releasing it in a controlled way. It starts with control. You must control the bike, not the other way around. Every step is new to you and exiting for sure, but don't be afraid of yourself nor the mechanics of the bike.

Let me tell you my experiences (short versions )...
I did not have had any motorized two-wheeler before, ever, so I was brand new in hand clutch, hand throttle and foot shifter. Registered myself at a riding school and after taking the theory, it took about 3 lessons before I knew how to operate the 30ci motorcycle in a safe and smooth way, then the instructor took me on the public roads for building general riding skills and emergency braking & evasive manoeuvres. I needed close to 40 one hour lessons and two practise exams when I deserved my motorcycle license. But I felt very proud and did it myself. Every time I ride, I learn more automatically and it makes me a better car driver also.

Riding a motorcycle can be scary sometimes (e.g. in heavy rain, strong winds, busy traffic, dirty and slippery road surfaces, cars sticking to your rear wheel,,,), but by far most of the times it's pure fun, I feel free, being exposed to the weather elements (of course I always wear full body protection) and meet similar minded folks. It's nice to know that I easily make new friends, no matter what sort of motorcycle they ride. It's a mind set, it's a way of living, it's your way of living.
I don't ride all year, just when the temperature is roughly between 50 and 80. Anything below make my muscles stiff, anything over results in lack of concentration due to overheating in the suit. Luckily I live in The Netherlands which has a moderate climate. And yes, I went down once at 60mph. It will happen one day. By no means I want to scare you, I'm just being realistic.

Whatever you decide sooner or later, having fun is all that counts.
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post #22 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-25-2017, 02:00 PM
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Has the OP even come back?


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post #23 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-25-2017, 05:39 PM
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He hasn't posted again.
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post #24 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-25-2017, 08:52 PM Thread Starter
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OP still here

Hi, everyone.
I have been following the thread, just not commenting. I figured it was better sit back and listen rather than try and jump into a conversation were I would be the most ignorant member. Thanks to all of your for your advice and wisdom (and by all means keep both coming). I have been reading and considering everything y'all have said.
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post #25 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-25-2017, 09:48 PM
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Quote:
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Hiya friend.

I only read the title of your post and a few lines of the actual post. But based on that I would say that, if you question whether you should ride or not, and you decide not to, then you probably shouldn't ride.
I agree
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post #26 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-26-2017, 07:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UnsureRider View Post
Hi, everyone.
I have been following the thread, just not commenting. I figured it was better sit back and listen rather than try and jump into a conversation were I would be the most ignorant member. Thanks to all of your for your advice and wisdom (and by all means keep both coming). I have been reading and considering everything y'all have said.
Have any additional questions came up for you? I am quite certain that anyone that has posted on this thread has your best interest at heart and are willing to answer any more you may have.
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post #27 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-26-2017, 01:51 PM
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Have any additional questions came up for you? I am quite certain that anyone that has posted on this thread has your best interest at heart and are willing to answer any more you may have.
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post #28 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-26-2017, 01:57 PM Thread Starter
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Some things for me to seriously consider.

Everyone who has contributed to this post and responded to my original post has largely confirmed by suspicions, i.e. that my mind is just not in the right place to begin an activity which has so many very real dangers to it, both to myself and others. I am relieved to hear some posters tell me that just because I am not ready to ride now does not mean that I am prevented from riding at a later date, when I have gained some life experience, found some self-confidence, and worked on my body and mind. I think the next step, sometime in the future, will be to try and take the safety class again. In the meantime I will keep my eye out for someone local who could act as a mentor. I will also keep monitoring this and other online communities, benefitting from a diverse knowledge base of real-world experts. Thanks everyone.
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post #29 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-26-2017, 04:03 PM
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Quote:
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I figured it was better sit back and listen rather than try and jump into a conversation were I would be the most ignorant member.
That doesn't stop anybody else here.
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post #30 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-26-2017, 04:46 PM
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it sounds like with the help of these guys you have it pretty well figured out. I agree that your mind set needs to be a little different. The suggestion of a small scooter may be a good way to start once and if you decide at a later date that you want to ride.
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post #31 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-26-2017, 06:05 PM
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I was going to say take the course again... but after re-reading your first post I would suggest a few things.

Step 1:
Get comfortable riding a bicycle. Dragging your feet to stop is indicative that you haven't really ever been comfortable balancing while doing something else. Learn to stop a bicycle from 30mph without using your feet, come to a complete stop, then go again. Do not touch the ground in between. Then go to step two.

Step 2:
Find access to a small motorcycle with a real gearbox and clutch to figure out how to make it move and toddle around in a circle in a parking lot.

Step 3:
Go back to take the class again. Or, if you really want to learn to master a bike where speeds are lower and the ground isn't as hard ... go to dirt bike school.

Step 4:
If you were smiling after Step 3... you will have a good idea what's next and the confidence to do it. Otherwise... move on to the next item on your bucket list. Life is too short to waste time forcing it. And maybe shorter if you do
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post #32 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-26-2017, 10:25 PM
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Wait....you've been in school for ten years?

Closing in on your doctorate, are you?
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post #33 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-26-2017, 10:50 PM Thread Starter
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Iím afraid so. Well, to a degree. Iím finishing up my second year now, three more to go. And itís a PhD in English Lit. no less. I think that might be part of my problem with motorcycles and considering riding; there is no job or focus (that I know of) which trains you to over-think and over-complicate something like reading lit. does.
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post #34 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-26-2017, 11:23 PM
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Iím afraid so. Well, to a degree. Iím finishing up my second year now, three more to go. And itís a PhD in English Lit. no less. I think that might be part of my problem with motorcycles and considering riding; there is no job or focus (that I know of) which trains you to over-think and over-complicate something like reading lit. does.
I bet a degree in Political Science also does (but I have to object appending "Science" to "Political", since it's quite a contradiction in terms!). 😊
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post #35 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-27-2017, 06:12 AM
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Iím afraid so. Well, to a degree.
Har!
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post #36 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-27-2017, 11:19 AM Thread Starter
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Valid point about political and science going together.
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post #37 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-27-2017, 11:58 AM
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These guys have given great advice, and most have been riding a lot longer than I have. I started about 5 years ago, although I'm around 100k~ miles already, so I'm not what I'd consider "green" anymore either. I've been doing it long enough to necessitate taking action to save my bacon several times now. So really all I can share is my experience, and tell you a story.

Like you, I always loved the idea of riding a motorcycle. When I was in my late teens and early 20s I had friends with bikes, and I always envied them. I was also a broke college kid, so that wasn't going to help a somewhat expensive hobby like this. For nearly 20 years I let the usual "fears" rule the decision. Bikes are dangerous, you're going to die or get severely injured, etc. At the age of 37 I was on the tail end of working a horrible Software Development job (although it was from home at least) that frequently caused me to have to put in close to 80 hours per week. I was burned out, pissed off, and generally depressed and in a bad mood -- all the time.

At the time I lived in Evergreen, Colorado which is a beautiful town up in the mountains near Denver, and as such is a magnet for motorcycle riders. All of the roads leading up there except for the interstate are awesome curvy canyons with awesome scenery in every direction. Starting in the spring of 2012 as I'd frequently traverse these roads to Denver and back, I started watching the numerous motorcyclists passing me in the other direction. Remember, at this time, I was miserable in general. Instead of staring at the bikes, I began to watch the riders. Yes, most "Harley" riders around here ride sans gear, so usually no helmets. Not only did they look cool, but I would watch their faces... all I can say is they generally ranged from obvious contentment, to half smiles with their heads cocked back enjoying the breeze. I would sometimes see ladies on the back with their arms stretched out and faces toward the sky, etc. Often the 2-up's were talking to each other and smiling. They were obviously having the time of their life.

Then it hit me, in a way that it never had before. I was pushing 40, and if I were lucky, MAYBE I was not quite half dead yet. I had a job I hated, and I was generally burned out and stressed to the point of it being a health hazard. What I had going for me, was nearly 20 years in the IT industry and a healthy salary for many years. Also, my wife, who is incredible. Something "clicked" one day in the summer of 2012 on route 74 outside of Evergreen, west of Morrison Colorado as I watched at least 25 bikers pass me on the way up the canyon in the only 5 or 6 miles since I had left home. I remember the moment clearly, and I know exactly what section of road it was... I was alone in the truck, and I suddenly said "f--- it!", surprising even myself. I had decided I was GOING to buy a motorcycle. Call it a midlife crisis if you want, I guess it was in a sense... I was done wishing.

Suddenly all the fears of dying were replaced with fears of not living, and having regrets later. That scared me more than anything. I went home that night and out of the blue declared to my wife that I was going to take a class, and buy a motorcycle. She looked shocked for a moment as in our 12 years together at that time, I had never once mentioned this desire. She paused and said, "Oh wow! That sounds awesome! I wanna go too, and I want my OWN bike!" I told you she was incredible. We attended the class, and both passed. Unlike you, I had no doubt I would be able to operate the machine. It came pretty easily to me, but I also attribute that to driving manual transmission cars my whole life. Still, it is a SKILL, that can be LEARNED, by anyone determined to do it in my opinion.

I now tell people that buying a motorcycle is the best decision I have made in my adult life. I moved on from that job to a far less stressful one that generally only demands about 40 hours per week. Riding is my passion now, and I no longer fear what might happen. I do what I can mitigate risk, I ride within my limits, and I wear gear that makes me comfortable.

The moral to this story? I guess its fairly cliche... Don't let your fears stand in the way of your dreams. Where there is a will, there is a way, and all that.. You can always take a stab at the class again, but this time, chill out. Enjoy it. If you don't pass, you can take it again. It is ok. I am certain that you CAN pass it. And if/when you do, get a small inexpensive bike, and play around on side streets and parking lots for as long as you have to. Wear lots of gear. Try to enjoy it. You can always back out if you decide it is not for you.

Good luck!
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post #38 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-27-2017, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by UnsureRider View Post
Iím afraid so. Well, to a degree. Iím finishing up my second year now, three more to go. And itís a PhD in English Lit. no less. I think that might be part of my problem with motorcycles and considering riding; there is no job or focus (that I know of) which trains you to over-think and over-complicate something like reading lit. does.
Maybe you're reading the wrong stuff.

Pick up a copy of Jupiter's Travels by Ted Simon or Motorcycle Diaries by Che Guevara.

Buy a bike. Pack a bag. Hit the road.

Oz
BMW K1200R Sport
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post #39 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-27-2017, 02:46 PM
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I bet a degree in Political Science also does (but I have to object appending "Science" to "Political", since it's quite a contradiction in terms!). 😊
I don't know about that. I have a degree in History with a minor in Political Science (and a Master's in City Management, so of course I'm a network engineer.) Didn't stop me.
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post #40 of 74 (permalink) Old 04-27-2017, 02:50 PM
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Maybe you're reading the wrong stuff.

Pick up a copy of Jupiter's Travels by Ted Simon or Motorcycle Diaries by Che Guevara.

Buy a bike. Pack a bag. Hit the road.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - a fitting time with the recent death of the author. Great book. Maybe not exactly literature but the travelogue backdrop of the philosophy makes it narrative, at least.
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