July 25, 2003

From Gerald R. Lucas

Riding Rules

I rode the R80/7 to work today, but I can’t shake this nervous feeling that I have had about the bike since my trip last weekend. I’m not sure what it is, exactly, but I feel like a novice doing something I shouldn’t be doing. I’ve been feeling a bit off today, so maybe I can attribute it to this weird feeling. However, my ride both to and from the college was not pleasurable, just anxiety-ridden, kind of like SCUBA diving for the first time. I’m hoping this will pass. Maybe tomorrow’s ride will help boost my confidence. I know it doesn’t help that the bike is old, and that I have had trouble getting into gear a few times. I just picture myself in the middle of a crowded road not being able to go, or worse, dropping the thing.

I remember reading a beginner’s book that said “you will drop your first bike several times; that’s why it’s better to practice in a parking lot.” Having this prediction hanging over me does not help my confidence. Also, after gassing up this afternoon, I was riding behind the station when a truck passed right in front of me going the wrong way. A few more seconds, and I would have been a big bug in his big grill. Sheesh. Thanks, buddy.

I remember talking to a couple of Harley riders at a local motel once. They were on their way back from Florida to Minnesota. The older of the two guys gave me some golden rules – rules I had heard before, but I liked the way he put them:

  1. Every ride is special. Keeping this in mind helps you mentally prepare to ride. This assumes that when driving to work and such, our minds think about work and not about riding. Therefore, don’t ride the bike to work, just on the weekends when you can devote the time and effort to riding. Makes sense.
  2. There’s nothing to see at night. Don’t ride in the evening or at night: not only is there nothing to see, drivers can’t see the motorcycle. Stick to day riding.
  3. Be a G-rated rider. That is, no skin should be showing. Wear a helmet and safety gear at all times. This is a law in Georgia, anyway.

Maybe breaking this first rule was not such a good idea today. Maybe I need a nap?